Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
Its that time of year again! Pumpkin season.  The time of year that we all enjoy baking with pumpkin. Nothing says Autumn more than a pumpkin bake, and this simple recipe makes for the best pumpkin bread you could ever want to eat! 

Its an adaptation of a recipe I received from my Canadian Mother in Law back in the 1970's.  It started off pretty plain and basic, but through the years I have gradually fiddled with it to create something of my own.  

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
It was moist and pretty delicious back then, but I have to say it is even more delicious now!  And I don't mean to sound like I am bragging when I say that, but its true.

When I first moved over to the UK tinned pumpkin was a very difficult thing to find in the shops.  I remember the first year I was there I had invited some Missionaries over for Thanksgiving dinner and I wanted to make them a traditional pumpkin pie for dessert.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread

I could not find pumpkin anywhere at all. I ended up roasting sweet potatoes and pureeing them to use for the pie. It worked out well, but it was not really pumpkin pie.

Then when I worked at the Manor I used to use pumpkin which I bought from an American food supply company. It came at a premium price, but was worth every penny to me at the time.  

Gradually pumpkin became more and more available and by the time I left there you could pretty much buy tinned pumpkin most of the time and in many of the shops.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
You can of course make your own pumpkin puree from scratch but it is very labor intensive to get it to the right consistency. You need to first roast your pumpkin.

Then you need to puree it.  Once pureed you then need to strain it and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can. This is where all of the labor comes in.  Tinned pumpkin is very dry and if you don't get your homemade pumpkin puree just as dry, the integrity of your bakes will be ruined.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
It is just so much less work to use the ready tinned pumpkin. Trust me on this.  Tinned pumpkin comes in handy for many things. Pies, cakes, cookies, breads, etc.

My boss at the manor used to ask me to make pumpkin soup with it every American Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 

This pumpkin bread recipe makes the best pumpkin bread ever and that is all down to my mother-in-laws secret ingredient, which is frozen orange juice concentrate.  Yes, frozen orange juice concentrate.  This was not something I could get in the UK either, but it was an ingredient that I learned to adapt.

You can do this either one of two ways. One, you can take fresh orange juice and boil it down to make a very concentrated form ( again, labor intensive) or two, you can take a fresh orange (peeled and segmented) and puree it in a blender until smooth.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
I will choose to puree the fresh fruit over boiling down juice every time. It is just so much easier and quicker.  In any case, don't skip it because it is what makes this an incredibly tasty and moist loaf! 

There is also plenty of spice in the loaf, but not obnoxiously so.  My mother in law used to just add cinnamon to hers. I added some nutmeg and ground cardamom, which we always loved.  I also added some vanilla.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
On a side note, now that the kittens are jumping up onto things they are a bit of a nuisance when it comes to taking my food photos. haha. Not quite the same as Mitzie. She liked to hold onto the edge of the table and watch.

She couldn't actually jump up onto the table. I think I must have had to take this little monkey down a bazillion times while I was taking these photos. I think its time to buy a squirt bottle.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
My mother in law used to add raisins to her pumpkin bread.  I switched them out for dried cranberries a number of years back.  Cranberries are a very autumnal thing and the dried ones work very well in this delicious pumpkin bread!

You can also use dried cherries (chopped) or even toasted walnuts, pecans or yes, even chocolate chips.  Also raisins if you want. I love this with the cranberries.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
I know that everyone thinks their pumpkin bread is the best, but I think mine is the very best and that is for a number of reasons.  One it always turns out. I have never had this fail. 

Two, it is incredibly moist and dense, without being soggy. This means that it cuts into perfect slices every single time. 

Three it is very family friendly, not too spicy and not too sweet.  I know that young mums want to make sure their children are not eating too much of the sweet stuff. This loaf has a perfect balance.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread 
Another reason that I really love this loaf is because it is totally freezable. You can make it ahead, or make several loaves of it when you have the pumpkin and freeze them. 

I like to cut mine into slices and place the loaf, pieced back together with a piece of wax paper in between the slices and the whole thing popped into an airtight freezer container.  That way I can take out a slice as and when I want to indulge myself.

It will keep for several months this way.  I can tell you it is really awfully nice to have this in the freezer ready to take out when a friend stops by unexpectedly.  10 seconds or so in the microwave and you have something incredibly tasty to enjoy with a hot drink.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread  
Or course like any true Nova Scotia gal I enjoy mine sliced and spread with softened butter.  That's how I like all of my quick breads like this one.

Banana bread, date and nut loaf, even lemon loaf.  I know it is a bit hedonistic, but you only live once.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread

I really hope that you will bake this loaf and that you will enjoy it as much as I do.  To me, its quite simply, the Best Pumpkin Bread ever invented.  

Its even better on the second day. In fact I usually bake it on one day and leave it to ripen overnight before cutting into it.  It always cuts into beautiful slices and the flavor is even better on the second day.  Trust me however, first day, second day, even third day, you are going to love this delicious pumpkin bread! 

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread

Yield: 8
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 60 MinTotal time: 1 H & 4 M
This easy and delicious loaf is an annual autumn favorite. I got the recipe from my mother in law many years ago. It’s the best pumpkin bread recipe!


  • 1 cup (250g) pumpkin puree (from the tin, not pie filling)
  • 2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) soft light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 TBS frozen orange juice concentrate, undiluted (see note)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup (245g) plain all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (75g) dried cranberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F/180*C/gas mark 4. Butter an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf tin and line with baking paper, leaving an overhang to lift the finished loaf out with when done.
  2. Whisk the eggs, sugars, oil, orange juice concentrate, pumpkin puree and vanilla together in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder, spices and salt until combined. Add all at once to the wet ingredients. Stir everything together just to combine and no dry streaks remain. Stir in the cranberries.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking tin, smoothing over the top.
  5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until risen and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before lifting out to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into slices to serve.


If you cannot get orange juice concentrate. Peel and segment a large orange. Puree the orange in a food processor until smooth and measure out three TBS.

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Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread
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  1. Oh I loved seeing kittens in the food photos! It just gives it that real look of home. You are right though that dogs are a little easier - they just sit and beg with their eyes.

    This sounds quite delicious with all those wonderful warm, autumn spices. We can get tinned pumpkin here from an American food supplier. And yes, at a premium price, but then I face that with things I want from home (eg Vegemite) and just accept that I have to pay and am at least grateful that I can get these niche imported foods.

    What a clever tip for the orange juice concentrate. Luckily we can get that here as well, but it is always nice to know a quick substitute should the need arise. I keep a notebook of all of your handy tips - you really should have been a teacher as I learn so much from you.

    1. Thanks very much Marie! They are at that into everything stage. Even when I scoop their litter box, Nutmeg is in there trying to help! Thanks so much for your comment! Maybe I need to do a document filled with hints and tips? xoxo

  2. Thanks for this one, Marie. My go-to pumpkin bread has been another you posted a year or two ago but I'll give this one a go, too. It sounds delicious. I go on bread-making tears in the fall and freeze it. We'll often have a piece or two as dessert or a snack or in the morning.

    As for the photos -- I would much prefer a photo like the one with your adorable kitten than just plain food photos. It's very real, warm, delightful. And if it's good enough for the cat to sniff out, it is more than good enough for me!

    1. You can never have enough pumpkin bread recipes Jeanie! Variety is the spice of life! Love your thoughts on cats and photos! Xoxo

  3. There is so much to love about this recipe! And so many helpful tips if we can't find all the ingredients. I have saved so many of your recipes to try....I really do need to make this one!

    I will add, if you buy the right kind of pumpkin to roast it's not as difficult. Most will be super watery but sugar pie pumpkins are very good for roasting then using for baking. If it is too watery you can place it in a colander line with coffee filters or cheesecloth, set it over a bowl & in the fridge overnight. It will have drained very well.

    1. Thanks very much Jenny! That is very handy to know! Thank you so much for sharing! In the UK, they really only have one kind of pumpkin (that I saw) which was the jack o lantern kinds. Not really pie pumpkins, although they generally called any kind of winter squash a pumpkin or a marrow, which used to drive me to distraction! haha xoxo

  4. I'm going to make this cake as soon as I buy some pumpkin puree. I'm also on the lookout for jars of mincemeat for Christmas pies as it was nowhere to be found last year. I'm going to check out your Earl Grey Tealoaf, too. I love Earl Gray tea or Lady Gray tea. Your method for freezing the loaf is ingenous. Thanks for the tip. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. That’s a lovely loaf Elaine! I am going to make my own mincemeat this year and soon. I didn’t like the stuff I bought last year. It wasn’t very good! I have a really good recipe! Love and hugs, xoxo

  5. Be careful with some foods around your sweet kittens. Cranberries, raisins, grapes, onions,garlic,etc,are poisonous to them. I'm sure you know this!

    1. Don’t worry! They are not getting any human food at all! I am super careful with them! But thank you so much for the information! Many house plants are poisonous as well. I put my geranium outdoors! Xoxo


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