Cranberry Orange Braided Bread

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Yield: one 12" to 14" loaf.

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This holiday sweet bread is great for gifting, or for sharing at a festive breakfast or brunch. Its subtle orange flavor; soft, tender crumb, and surprise sweet fruit and nut filling are sure to please gift recipients and guests alike.

Cranberry Orange Braided Bread

star rating (22) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: one 12" to 14" loaf.
Published: 09/23/2013






  • pearl sugar or sparkling sugar, for decorating

Tips from our bakers

  • If you don't have Fiori di Sicilia, replace it with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange oil (or 1 tablespoon grated orange rind).
  • If you don't have Sticky Bun Sugar, replace it with brown sugar; the filling may seep out of the loaf a bit as it bakes.
  • SAF Gold instant yeast is specially formulated for sweet dough; but use SAF Red if that's what you have, understanding that your dough will take longer to rise, both the first and second times.


1) To make the starter: Combine the starter ingredients, cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.

2) To make the dough: Mix the starter with the dough ingredients, kneading until elastic and satiny. Let the dough rise in a greased, covered bowl for 1 to 2 hours, until puffy.

3) Divide the dough into three pieces. Flatten each piece into a 6" x 12" rectangle.

4) Mix the filling ingredients together, and spread each rectangle with some of the filling.

5) Starting with a long edge, roll each rectangle into a log. Braid the logs together.

6) Cover the braid, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until puffy.

7) Preheat the oven to 350°F.

8) Combine the egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush onto the braid. Sprinkle with pearl or sparkling sugar.

9) Bake the braid for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; a digital thermometer inserted into the center should register 190°F.

10) Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.

Yield: one 12" to 14" loaf.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 piece (71g) Servings Per Batch: 14 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240 Calories from Fat: 80 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 50mg Sodium: 220mg Total Carbohydrate: 35g Dietary Fiber: 2g Sugars: 11g Protein: 6g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


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  • star rating 04/19/2015
  • Nikki from Chicago, IL
  • This is an awesome bread! It takes a bit of extra time to assemble, but the flavors (you must use Fiori di Sicilia, it is incredible!) and presentation are perfect for impressing people. I've made this several times and it always comes out great. The dough can be crumbly before kneading, and I find I have to roll pretty aggressively to get the dough to flatten (and stay flat). Also, be sure to use a thermometer to check doneness... the braid form looks beautiful, but I find it causes uneven baking.. the ends and top of the braid get very done while the crevices where the braid segments are interlocking are the last to bake through.
  • star rating 02/26/2015
  • from
  • star rating 02/08/2015
  • from Warren, ri
  • star rating 12/20/2014
  • Terri from North Carolina
  • Tried this recipe for the first time today. The dough is very tender and fragrant and easy to work with. The loaf came together easily and baked beautifully. The bread itself is very soft and has a wonderful flavor. On the whole, the loaf is delicious and not too sweet. Although the walnut/cranberry filling is very good, I would love to try adding some chopped apples, but I'm concerned that they may make the filling too wet. Any advice about how to do this? You could finely dice an apple and add it to the filling. Granny Smiths tend to be less juicy and would be a nice acid balance in this. Laurie@KAF
  • star rating 12/01/2014
  • Addie from St Paul, MN
  • This bread was a big hit on Thanksgiving morning! It looked beautiful and tasted great! I prepared the braid the night before and refrigerated it and took it out in the morning. I put it in the oven after the oven came to temp (350 degrees) - I did check the oven with an oven thermometer. My only difficulty was bringing the bread to an internal temp anywhere near 190-200 degrees within the specified baking time. At the end of the baking time, it was already golden brown, but only about 140 degrees internally. I ended up having to cover it with foil and leave it in the oven with the temp turned down for about another 20 minutes. I'm not sure if this had anything to do with having refrigerated the dough, but it did take longer to finally get the bread to where I was comfortable that it was thoroughly cooked through.
  • star rating 08/14/2014
  • Nika G from KAF Community
  • I made this braid for Thanksgiving and then got multiple requests for if for Christmas. It's easy to make and looks stunning when you slice into it. I used the juice from half of the orange I zested and mixed it with the filling while I was waiting for the dough to rise. It re-hydrated the cranberries a bit and added a nice extra kick of orange flavor to the filling.
  • star rating 03/01/2014
  • Robin from Mandan, ND
  • The dough was easy to roll out after making the dough in the breadmaker. The braid rope filling didn't seep out in that each rope sealed nicely and stayed sealed while baking. It looked pretty and tasted wonderful.
  • star rating 02/26/2014
  • jarobo from KAF Community
  • Prepared this bread for a brunch this past weekend. After speaking with Amy at the baker's hotline I prepared the dough in my bread machine (perfect texture following the recipe as written), let it rise (doubled in about an hour), rolled and shaped the loaf, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. As suggested I left it at room temperature a little over and hour (it still felt cold), the baked as directed. It rose more than expected, expanding at the seams like a challah, but tasted extraordinary. Next time I might try baking it right from the refrigerator as I do with overnight sticky buns.
  • star rating 02/03/2014
  • Rosie from North Ridgeville, Ohio
  • Just had a piece of this bread.................delicious!! The only complaint I have with it is that the dough is very crumbly at first and takes a lot of kneading time. To speed up both risings I put the covered dough and braid in a very warm oven. I used KAF cinnamon filling mixed with the cranberries and walnuts. I also used a thin icing of cream, confectioner's icing 1/4 tsp of KAF Buttered Rum flavoring. The 30 minute time bakes the loaf a dark, golden brown color. More time to bake it is not needed.
    I am pleased you enjoyed this recipe! Add more liquid if the dough seems too dry by just a 1 t. at a time until you arrive at the correct consistency. I hope you will try again sometime! Elisabeth@KAF
  • star rating 01/24/2014
  • Susan from Upstate NY
  • Very nice bread. I followed exactly. Nice texture and very attractive. A little time consuming, but not really labor intensive. If you haven't tried it yet, buy the Fiori di Sicilia. I love this flavoring. I have used it in angelfood cake, and ricotta cookies. It adds a unique and distinctive flavor.
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