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This Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread recipe brings together the tartness of fresh cranberries and the indulgent smoothness of cream cheese, creating a comforting, yet elegant, addition to any table. Trust me, this is the loaf that will turn your every breakfast, brunch, or snack into a festive occasion!
The Best Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread – Completely From Scratch
This Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread is my little twist on holiday magic; each bite weaves the sharp zest of cranberries with sumptuous cream cheese, all nestled in a tender, homemade dough. It’s a crowd-pleaser that’s as delightful to look at as it is to devour, turning each slice into a conversation starter. And believe me, after one taste, your friends and family will be hankering for the recipe!
- Active Dry Yeast: Kickstarts the dough’s rising process; substitute with instant yeast, no need to activate it though.
- Sugar: Adds sweetness and helps in caramelization; try honey or maple syrup for a twist.
- Milk: Hydrates and enriches the dough; almond or soy milk can be used for a dairy-free option.
- Eggs: Bind and give structure to both dough and filling; flaxseed meal mixed with water is a great vegan binder.
- Butter: Provides moisture and tenderness; coconut oil or vegan margarine are solid alternatives.
- Salt: Enhances overall flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour: The structural backbone of the bread; gluten-free all-purpose flour blend works for gluten sensitivities.
- Cream Cheese: Adds creaminess to the filling; ricotta or mascarpone are possible substitutes.
- Vanilla Extract: Infuses the filling with a sweet aroma; bourbon or almond extract can be used for a different flavor profile.
- Cranberries: Offer a tart punch to balance the sweet; dried cherries or raspberries make good stand-ins.
- Lemon Juice: Brightens the cranberry filling; orange juice can substitute for a sweeter citrus note.
- Cornstarch: Thickens the cranberry mixture; arrowroot powder or tapioca starch can also do the job.
- Egg Wash: Gives the bread a glossy, golden finish; milk or cream can be brushed on for a similar effect.
Start by awakening the active dry yeast in warm milk with a whisper of sugar, waiting for it to bubble with life. Then, in a melody of mixing, combine the yeast mixture with sugar, melted butter, eggs, and salt, gradually introducing flour until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms. Knead it with love until it’s elastic, then let it rise patiently.
While you wait, whip up the cream cheese filling with sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth, and cook the cranberries with sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch until they thicken into a tangy jam. Roll out your risen dough and layer it with the fillings, braid with care, and let it rest until it puffs slightly. Finally, anoint it with egg wash before baking to a golden brown, creating a loaf that’s as enchanting to the eyes as it is to the palate.
- Yeast Proofing: Ensure your milk is warm, not hot, to activate the yeast without killing it; around 105-110°F (40-43°C) is ideal. A good proof is characterized by a foamy and bubbly surface.
- Dough Texture: If the dough is too sticky to handle after adding the initial flour amount, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. The final dough should be tacky to the touch but not so sticky that it’s unmanageable.
- Filling Consistency: After cooking the cranberry filling, let it cool before spreading. A warm filling can make the dough soggy and harder to shape.
- Rolling Out Dough: Keep the dough chilled for easier handling. If it begins to spring back while rolling, let it rest for a few minutes to relax the gluten before continuing.
- Baking to Perfection: To avoid over-browning, check the bread at the 25-minute mark. If it’s browning too quickly, tent it loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
- Slicing for Success: Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing to prevent the fillings from oozing out and to get clean cuts. A serrated knife works best to cut through without squishing the bread.
Once the Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread has completely cooled, wrap it snugly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep it fresh. It will happily sit on your counter for up to 2 days or in the fridge for a week, maintaining its moist texture.
If you’re thinking long-term, this bread freezes like a dream! Wrap individual slices or the whole loaf in plastic, followed by a layer of foil, and tuck it into the freezer. It’ll be your delicious little secret, good for up to 3 months. Just remember to thaw it in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before serving; it’s as if you baked it fresh that day!
More Delicious Recipes To Try
- Sweet Cheese Buns
- Cinnamon Bread
- Poppy Seed Roll
- Raisin Bread
- Peaches And Cream Strudel
- New York Cheesecake
- Apple Cranberry Crisp
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- In a medium bowl, mix the warm milk, yeast, and that 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whisk in 2 cups of flour until you've got a smooth mixture. Let this little potion sit in a warm spot for about 30 minutes or until it doubles in size.
- Once the starter is puffy and ready, add it to your mixer. Toss in the eggs, salt, the rest of the sugar, and the melted butter. Mix on medium for a minute—just until they're all mingling together. Gradually add in the remaining flour until the dough is soft and a tad sticky. Use the dough hook attachment for a 5-minute knead.
- Shape your dough into a cozy ball and let it rise in the same bowl (covered with plastic wrap) until it's doubled in size, which will take about 2 hours.
- While the dough is rising, beat together the cream cheese filling ingredients until smooth as silk.
- In a saucepan, combine all the cranberry filling ingredients. Cook this over medium heat, stirring like you mean it, until it thickens up.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Split the dough into two. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Imagine the dough is divided lengthwise into thirds. Cut slits along the outer thirds.
- Spread half the cream cheese filling and half the cranberry filling down the center. Fold the strips over the fillings, alternating sides and stretching a bit to cover. Repeat with the other piece of dough and remaining cream cheese and cranberry filling.
- Transfer these beauties to a baking sheet and let them rest for 30 minutes. They'll puff up a bit more.
- Brush the loaves with the beaten egg for that perfect shine. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until they’re golden and singing with color.
- Recipe yields 2 breads.
- Dough Rising Tip: For an ideal rising environment, place the dough in a warm, draft-free spot. A turned-off oven with the light on or on top of a refrigerator can provide just the right amount of warmth.
- Filling Variation: Feel adventurous by adding orange zest to the cranberry mixture for an extra burst of citrus, or sprinkle a handful of chopped nuts for a delightful crunch.
- Serving Suggestion: Serve slices of this bread warm to maximize the flavors and textures. A light toasting brings out a lovely contrast between the crisp exterior and the soft, rich interior.
- Make-Ahead: Prepare the dough the night before and let it rise slowly in the refrigerator for the first rise. The next day, proceed with the filling and second rise to save time and enhance the flavor.
- Freezing Advice: If freezing, slice the bread beforehand for easy single servings. Reheat slices in the oven or toaster for a quick, like-fresh treat.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.