Gluten-Free Orange Cranberry Cake – This gluten-free orange cranberry loaf cake is full of bright citrus flavor and tangy fresh cranberries. We love the soft texture!
Back today with another cranberry recipe for the season, and it’s a GREAT one.
This gluten-free orange cranberry cake is exactly what you want it to be, and lovely for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Like most quick breads, it blurs the line between bread and cake–sweet, fluffy and soft, with vibrant orange flavor and plenty of sweet, tart cranberries in every slice. It took a few tries to get it just right, but I’m SO happy with the final recipe.
The big trick is layering the citrus flavor in the cake. We use an easy trick with the orange zest to infuse the orange quick bread with big flavor, then brush the warm cake with an orange syrup before finishing the cake with an easy orange glaze.
But don’t worry! Even with the three layers of flavor, it’s not fussy. Here’s what you need to make this delicious gluten-free orange cranberry loaf cake recipe…
Gluten-Free Orange Cranberry Bread Recipe, At A Glance:
Here’s What You Need To Make This Gluten-Free Orange Loaf Cake:
- Orange Zest. Fresh orange zest adds vibrant, fresh orange flavor to orange cranberry bread. Make sure you measure the zest so you’re sure to get enough.
- Sugar. Next, you’ll rub the orange zest into the sugar. It distributes the orange essential oils throughout all the granules of sugar, which means more flavor in every bite of this cake.
- Full-Fat Yogurt. This adds moisture and tanginess, which really plays up the fresh orange flavor and the brightness of the cranberries.
- Oil. Neutral-flavored oil (like canola, avocado, or sunflower) keeps this gluten-free orange cake ultra moist.
- Eggs. I love pasture-raised eggs, which have more orange yolks and give the cake a more orange color.
- Vanilla & Almond Extract. This combo gives major creamsicle vibes! Almond extract might sound out of place, but it’s a trick that makes a HUGE difference in the potency of the citrus flavor. (We use this same trick in our lemon poppy seed muffins!)
- Gluten-Free Flour. Keeping things simple with a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend. This one from King Arthur Baking is our ultimate fave. (Using another blend? Be sure it has xanthan gum!)
- Baking Powder. This helps neutralize the acidity of the citrus and helps the orange cranberry bread rise properly.
- Kosher Salt. To wake up and balance all the other flavors.
- Fresh Cranberries + Cornstarch. Coating the cranberries with cornstarch helps prevent them from all sinking to the bottom.
- Orange Syrup. Made from a little sugar and orange juice, this locks in moisture and infuses even more orange flavor into the cake.
- Orange Glaze. One final flourish of citrus! Our simple orange glaze has both orange zest and orange juice for extra flavor.
What’s A Standard-Sized Loaf Pan? In the United States, the standard-size loaf pan is 8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.5″ inches. We love and recommend this loaf pan for most bakes!
How To Make Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Bread, Step By Step
Start By Making The Cake
- Preheat The Oven & Prep Your Pan. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard-size loaf pan (8 1/4 x 3.5 inch loaf pan) with parchment paper. Set prepared loaf pan aside.
- Combine The Dry Ingredients. In a medium or small mixing bowl, combine gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Rub Orange Zest Into The Sugar. In a large bowl, combine 3 Tablespoons fresh orange zest with granulated sugar. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar. This releases the essential oils in the zest and distributes them into the sugar, which gives a more vibrant citrus flavor.
- Stir In The Oil & Yogurt. Next, pour in the oil and stir to combine. Add the yogurt and mix until the mixture is cohesive and well-blended.
- Beat In The Eggs. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
- Add Vanilla And Almond Extract and stir to blend in.
- Stir In The Dry Ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just a few powdery sections are left.
- Coat The Cranberries. In the bowl you used for the dry ingredients, toss the cranberries with cornstarch and stir to coat.
- Fold In The Cranberries. Add the cornstarch-coated cranberries to the cake batter and fold in gently until just blended and the cranberries are well distributed. Try not to over-mix.
- Bake The Cake. Pour the cake into your prepared loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 70-75 minutes, or until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with perhaps just a few small moist crumbs. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and brush with the orange syrup before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
WHILE THE CAKE IS BAKING, Make The Orange Syrup
- Melt The Sugar & Orange Juice Together. When the cake is almost done, combine the sugar and orange juice in a microwave-safe bowl (I use a glass liquid measuring cup). Microwave 30-60 seconds, or until the sugar is dissolved. Alternatively, you can use a small saucepan on the stove)
- Brush Syrup On The Warm Cake. When the cake is cooling in the pan and still very warm, brush with the orange syrup. (It may feel like a lot, but it’ll keep the cake ultra-moist and play up the orange flavors in the cake.)
Finish With The Orange Glaze
- Cool The Cake & Mix Up The Glaze. When the cake has cooled completely, make the glaze. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla, and orange zest. Whisk until smooth, adding more cream, as needed (I usually need 2 Tablespoons).
- Glaze The Cake. Pour or drizzle the orange glaze over the cooled cake. (Do NOT try to glaze a warm cake, or the glaze will simply melt off of the cake.)
- Let The Glaze Set Before Slicing. Let the cake sit for 30 minutes or so, until the glaze has set before cutting into slices. Store cake covered at room temperature 2 days or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Gluten-Free Orange Cranberry Loaf Cake:
Can You Freeze Orange Loaf Cake? Yes! I recommend freezing the orange cranberry cake after brushing it with the syrup but WITHOUT glazing it. (The glaze can sometimes separate a bit when thawed, so it’s best to wait to glaze it until you’ve thawed it completely.) Bake the bread and brush with the orange syrup, then cool, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and store in a bag in the freezer
How Many Orange Do You Need For 1 Tablespoon Orange Zest? As a general rule, 1 large orange is enough for 1 Tablespoon of orange zest. 3 oranges is usually enough for us to get 3 Tablespoons of zest for the cake, but if your oranges are small, you may want to get another 1-2 to help you along!
Use A Light-Colored Metal Loaf Pan. For the most even bake, we highly recommend a light-colored metal loaf pan. Dark pans can scorch the outside of your loaf before the center is done, while glass will take longer and can impact the way the loaf rises.
Can I Bake This In Another Size Pan? Maybe! I recommend this guide for converting cake recipes to different sizes to guide you. If you use another loaf pan size, be aware that your cake will bake differently than directed. We recommend sticking with a standard loaf pan.
More GLuten-Free Quick Bread Recipes To Try: