This tart and moist cranberry lemon bread is the perfect recipe for the festive season! It’s topped with a dreamy white chocolate cream cheese frosting and sugared cranberries. This cranberry lemon loaf cake is made in a food processor and takes just 18 minutes to prepare.
This recipe was originally published in December 2020. It has since been updated with an improved recipe and new pictures.
This extra moist and rich cranberry lemon bread is based off of my popular blackberry lemon bread recipe! The loaf cake is made in a food processor, where the sugar is blended with the lemon zest to create an even more lemony flavor.
I also love topping this cranberry loaf cake with homemade sugared cranberries. It is so easy to make these but makes your loaf cake a showstopper for Christmas!
Why you’ll love this cranberry lemon bread!
- This cranberry bread is super moist thanks to the addition of sour cream!
- The sugar is put in the food processor with the lemon zest, this allows the oils of the lemon zest to be released. This is how you make lemon sugar, and will give you a sweet lemony bread, which pairs perfectly with the cranberries!
- You don’t need to cream butter for this recipe as we’re using melted butter.
- The cranberry loaf cake is topped with the best white chocolate cream cheese frosting!
- I’ll show you how you can easily make homemade sugared cranberries.
- Cranberries: I used fresh cranberries as they’re in season right now, but you can also use the same weight of frozen cranberries!
- Flour: I have only tested this recipe with all purpose flour.
- Sour Cream: this is going to make the loaf cake extra moist. You could swap it out for full fat yogurt if you prefer.
- Lemon Zest: the zest of one whole lemon is added into the batter to add even more tang, but you could sub this for orange zest
- White Chocolate: make sure the white chocolate you use has cocoa butter in it. I recommend melting it and letting it cool slightly before making the frosting!
Step by Step Process
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 340°Fahrenheit/170°Celsius. Cut your cranberries in half and toss with 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
Step 2: Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Step 3: In a food processor, blend together the lemon zest and sugars. Blend until the zest releases oil, giving the sugar a light yellow appearance.
Step 4: Add the eggs, melted butter, sour cream, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Turn the food processor on and blend.
Step 5: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, using a rubber spatula to fold everything together. Fold until there are no more streaks of flour. Stir in the cranberries.
Step 6: Pour the batter into a greased and lined 8.5×4.5 loaf pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 80-90 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out clean or just a few crumbs.
Step 7: while the loaf is baking, prepare your sugared cranberries! In a small saucepan, heat up sugar with water over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and add in your cranberries. Stir them so they’re evenly covered in this sugar syrup. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out and let them dry on parchment paper for 1 hour.
Step 8: After 1 hour, toss the cranberries in granulated sugar.
Step 9: In a large bowl with a handheld mixer, or in a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese with the sour cream and butter until smooth. Pour in the (cooled!) melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. This frosting isn’t super firm so I suggest placing it in the fridge until ready to use.
Step 10: Once the loaf has completely cooled, top with the chilled frosting and sugared cranberries. Enjoy!
Baking Tips & Tricks
- Measuring – I highly recommend using a weighing scale and measuring out your ingredients the metric way. It makes a huge difference to your baking and is the most accurate way to bake!
- Fluff and Sprinkle Flour – if you aren’t weighing your ingredients and are using a measuring cup, then use the fluff and sprinkle method to measure your flour. Go to this link here to find out how to do that. It’s important to have the right amount of flour in this recipe as we don’t want a dry loaf.
- Chill the Frosting – this frosting is quite runny because it hasn’t got any powdered sugar in it, so I recommend letting it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before placing on top of the loaf cake.
- Prepping the Cranberries – I suggest slicing up the cranberries into halves or quarters, depending on how large they are! Then toss them with a bit of flour. This is going to help them not sink to the bottom of the bread when they are baking.
Frequently Asked Questions
My favourite type of pan for pound cakes is a loaf pan or a pullman loaf pan. I make sure to use pans that are a lighter metal, as darker metals will cook the sides and bottom faster, making them darker than the rest of your loaf. If you only have a 9×5 pan, you can bake it in there but you might need slightly less baking time.
This frosting isn’t super thick and doesn’t have any confectioners’ sugar in it to stabilize it, so I suggest placing it in the fridge for 30 minutes before decorating the loaf cake.
Make sure you are slicing up the cranberries and tossing them in flour before adding to the cake batter. If you leave them whole they will most likely sink because of gravity.
Try these recipes next!
Cranberry Lemon Bread
- 8.5"x 4.5" loaf pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup sour cream room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup cranberries washed and dried
- 1 tablespoon flour for tossing the cranberries
- ¾ cup cream cheese room temperature
- ½ stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon sour cream room temperature
- 5 oz white chocolate melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup cranberries washed and dried
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
Cranberry Lemon Loaf
- Preheat your oven to 325°F/170°C. Grease and line a 8.5×4.5" loaf pan.
- Cut your cranberries. If they're small cranberries, cut into quarters, and if they're large cut into eighths. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons of flour in a small bowl and set aside.
- Melt your butter in a microwave or in a small saucepan. Once melted, set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a food processor or large blender, blend together your sugar and lemon zest. Do this for about 20-30 seconds, or until the lemon zest releases their oils and your sugar takes on more of a yellow color.
- Stop the food processor and pour in your wet ingredients – melted butter, vanilla extract, fresh lemon juice, 3 eggs and sour cream. Blend together for 20 seconds.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold everything together with a rubber spatula. Fold until there are no more streaks of flour. Add in your chopped cranberries and fold those into the batter.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and tape it on your counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 80-90 minutes, a tester should come out clean. After 10 minutes, take it out of the pan and let it cool completely. If your loaf is turning too brown in the oven, cover it with aluminium foil.
- In a small saucepan, dissolve 50g/¼ cup of the sugar and water over a medium heat. Using a silicone spatula, you can stir occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Once all the sugar is dissolved take it off the heat.
- Add the cranberries to this syrup and make sure the cranberries are evenly coated. Place a piece of parchment paper on your counter and use a slotted spoon to take the cranberries out and place on the paper. Let them sit for about an hour.
- Put the remaining sugar in a medium bowl and add the cranberries, making sure they're all coated.
White Chocolate Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and butter together until smooth.
- Pour in the melted white chocolate and vanilla and beat until completely combined. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
White chocolate frosting with lemon & cranberries is divine. One of my favorites to make. Good easy to follow recipe.
My favorite! The white chocolate with the lemon & cranberries is amazing.
There are never any leftovers!
Great easy to follow recipe. Thank you.
How much is half a stick of butter?
Half a stick of butter is 1/4 cup!
This is a fantastic recipe. The white chocolate cream cheese icing is indulgent and is nicely balanced by the tart lemon and cranberries. Having the whole frosted cranberries on top is also a nice treat that you don’t see very often. Could hardly stop from finishing this loaf….