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Cranberry Orange Braided Bread


I love making these kinds of breakfast breads, leaving them on the kitchen counter and letting everyone nibble on them for a couple of days.  These breads really are not hard to make - this kind of sweet dough is very easy to work with and you can make the fillings with lots of different things to suit your own taste. This version is with dried cranberries, walnuts and some orange zest. 


This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour and if you have never been to their site, you should check it out. It's full of great recipes and baking tips.  There is an unusual ingredient in this recipe - Fiori di Sicilia - which they sell.  It is a combination of vanilla extract and citrus and it's awesome!  It smells wonderful and adds a little more citrus kick to whatever you're baking.  If you don't want to buy this ingredient, just use regular vanilla extract in the recipe but if you do want to try it, I highly recommend it. 

Don't be intimidated by the fact that this recipe uses a "starter".  It's just a little dough that you make up ahead of time and let sit and it builds flavor for the main dough.  It's worth doing and it's super easy.  

After the dough has risen, you divide it into thirds and roll out the pieces into rectangles.  You spread the filling on each rectangle, roll it up like a log and then just braid them together. I guarantee this bread will be a hit when you serve it!

Cranberry Orange Braided Bread

for a printable recipe, click here

The recipe calls for you to make the starter and leave it to sit overnight.  That develops more flavor. However, if you can't do this (or forget to do this) you can indeed make the starter and just let it sit for as long as you possibly can (at least an hour at the minimum).  

Feel free to swap out the filling ingredients for other fruits and nuts that you like. 


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cool water
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast


  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
  • ¼ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia flavor*
  • grated peel (zested) of 1 large orange


  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup brown sugar





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 (I did this in my KitchenAid mixer bowl with a dough hook). 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) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Starting with a long edge, roll each rectangle into a log. Braid the logs together on the parchment paper. 

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.

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

Yield: one 12" to 14" loaf.

* if you don't have this ingredient, replace it with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

from King Arthur Flour

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Reader Comments (11)

Absolutely delicious looking, and so perfect for this time of the year! One question though, I am used to using fresh yeast only, is the process for making a starter the same if I use fresh yeast?

December 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBianca

From The Italian Dish:

Bianca: I would love to know why you are using fresh yeast - if it's just out of habit, please try using instant yeast. It's much more reliable, there is no flavor difference and it is super convenient. I wrote about using instant yeast in this post, if it will convince you!

December 2, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

The bread sounds marvelous. I can certainly attest to the fiori di sicilia flavoring. I've been using it for years the breads have such a rich marvelous flavor and aroma.

I used instant yeast a few times and for some reason failed miserably; the dough didn't rise as well as with the fresh yeast or not at all, and also I find there a difference in taste when using fresh?
I'm not sure but I guess since I haven't had success with instant yeast I just gave up on it, and stuck to the fresh which is widely available where I live. Thank you for adding the link, I will check it out and perhaps muster up the courage to give instant yeast another tr!y!

December 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBianca

From The Italian Dish:

Bianca: Read through my post on yeast and you will see there is no difference in taste, especially if you give your dough a long time to rise and develop flavor. Instant yeast is extremely reliable - in fact, in all my years of baking I have never once not had it rise. If yours did not rise, it is possible you added too hot of water. That will kill yeast. Read through the post and you will understand all about yeast. Cold water will not kill yeast, but water above a certain temp will. So it's best just to add lukewarm water. Give it a chance again! Instant yeast is easy to store and use and lasts a long time.

December 3, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Very creative bread recipe.. I love to make one of those great sharing!

~ Digital Kitchen Scale! Check this out

December 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSpiral Slicer

Dear Elaine, after reading your blog post on yeast several times I decided to give instant yeast another chance:) Well, I had to come back and say thank you (!), I successfully baked your Cranberry orange bread and it turned out great! This delicious bread was a huge Christmas breakfast success in our home. More importantly I no longer fear instant yeast and though I may still use fresh yeast from time to time you're simply right to say when it comes to convenience instant yeast always wins. Thank you!

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBianca

Oh my word! This bread is delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe and your beautiful photographs and easy to follow instructions. I have been patting myself on the back all week at my success in first try ever making a yeast bread.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Where do you find Fiorni de Sicilian flavouring?

January 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

From The Italian DIsh:

Michelle: I have linked to it a couple of places in the post. When you see a word that is in blue type, it is a link that takes you to that item. Hope this helps.

January 24, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

My uncle from Italy makes bread and Panini all the time, once he forms the dough, puts into a big stainless bowl and covers with a clean kitchen towel of course, takes it to a warm room in the house....makes a difference, and the dough rises very nicely. Rises beautifully.... Warm up your bathroom perhaps, put the covered bowl with dough inside and check in an hour, you will see that it rises up quite nicely... also, don't knead and overwork the dough either

March 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDall

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