The winter season is synonymous with a few things: cozy sweaters, crackling fires, and delicious baked goods fresh out of the oven. One such treat that deserves its moment in the spotlight is the Cream Cheese Cranberry Loaf. Imagine a moist, velvety slice infused with tangy cranberries and the creaminess of cream cheese. Sounds tempting? Let’s dive in!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Balanced Flavors: The tartness of cranberries perfectly offsets the sweetness of the batter.
- Creamy Texture: Thanks to the cream cheese, each bite is moist and melt-in-the-mouth.
- Perfect for Every Occasion: Be it a family gathering, Christmas breakfast, or just a mid-day snack.
To make your shopping experience a breeze, here’s a concise list to take along:
- Baking & Spices:
- All-purpose flour (2 cups)
- Granulated sugar (1 1/2 cups)
- Vanilla extract (1 1/2 tsp)
- Baking soda (1 1/2 tsp)
- Salt (1/2 tsp)
- Fruits & Veggies:
- Cranberries (2 cups)
- Dairy & Refrigerated:
- Unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- Cream cheese (18 oz. package)
- Eggs (4)
- Measure and Sort: Start by measuring out all the ingredients. Having everything at arm’s reach makes the process smoother.
- Dry and Wet Separation: Keep the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in one area and the wet ingredients (butter, sugar, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla) in another.
- Cranberries: If using frozen cranberries, keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to fold them into the batter.
The Secrets Behind Perfect Cream Cheese Cranberry Loaf
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Using ingredients at room temperature ensures a smooth, lump-free batter. It can make a big difference in the texture.
- Don’t Overmix: Overmixing can lead to a dense loaf. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
- Fresh Cranberries vs Frozen: While both can be used, fresh cranberries might give a slightly juicier result.
- Test for Doneness: Ovens vary, so always use the toothpick test to ensure your loaf is perfectly baked.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 80 minutes
- Servings: 10 slices
Ingredients You’ll Need
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups cranberries (either fresh or frozen will do)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 18 oz. package of cream cheese, also at room temperature
- 4 eggs, preferably at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat Your Oven: Start by heating your oven to 350°F (175°C). As it warms, grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- Whisk Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. This ensures an even distribution of the baking soda.
- Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. This process should take around 4-5 minutes.
- Introduce Cream Cheese: Add the cream cheese to the butter mixture and continue beating until smooth and creamy.
- Eggs and Vanilla: One at a time, add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Add Dry Ingredients: Gradually fold in the flour mixture, ensuring not to overmix.
- The Star Ingredient: Gently fold in the cranberries.
- Pour and Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cooling Time: Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- If using frozen cranberries, don’t thaw them; add them directly from the freezer.
- Always store your loaf in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
- Iced Latte: The richness of the loaf pairs wonderfully with a chilled iced latte on a sunny day.
- Fresh Berry Compote: A side of berry compote can enhance the fruity flavor of the loaf.
- Cream Cheese Glaze: Mix some powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and milk for a creamy glaze to drizzle on top.
How To Store Leftovers
- Room Temperature: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Refrigerator: For longer freshness, refrigerate the loaf in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Freezing: As mentioned earlier, tightly wrap and freeze the loaf for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Hints & Hacks
- No Fresh Cranberries?: Dried cranberries can be used as a substitute, but soak them in warm water for 10 minutes before using.
- Avoid Sinking Cranberries: Toss cranberries in a tablespoon of flour before folding them into the batter. This helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom.
- Loaf Pan Size: If you’re using a different size pan, adjust the baking time accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Can I use dried cranberries?
Yes, you can, but it will alter the texture and flavor slightly.
- How long does the loaf stay fresh?
Stored in an airtight container, it should last up to 5 days at room temperature.
- Can I freeze the Cream Cheese Cranberry Loaf?
Absolutely! Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
here you have it, folks! A perfectly baked Cream Cheese Cranberry Loaf that’s bound to be the star of your winter get-togethers. It’s a symphony of flavors, a dance of textures, and the perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of coffee. Happy baking!
Do you have any variations of this recipe or baking anecdotes? Share them in the comments below! And if you found this recipe helpful, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family.
📌 Love this recipe? Don’t forget to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board! Let’s spread the joy of baking together.
Credit: Easy Instant Recipes