These sweet gluten-free bread loaves have a hint of saltiness and smokiness from the bacon pieces added. The small bread loaves are an interesting addition to a Thanksgiving bread basket assortment. I remember coming across sweet & salty cranberry muffins amongst the bread offered at several Thanksgiving spreads and I am basing my recipe on that “memory flavour”, plus converting it to a gluten-free option.

I have created mini loaves using my mini loaf tin, but feel free to make mini muffins instead. The only difference is that the loaves can also be sliced and toasted.

How to eat cranberry bread:

There are two ways to serve these cranberry mini loaves, either warm straight from the oven or sliced thickly and toasted.

  1. As an entire loaf: serve these warm with an assortment of bread to accompany a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
  2. Alternatively, slice and toast the bread and serve them on a cheese board or with as an entree with pate or a terrine, or simply butter them as a snack or for breakfast.

If you prefer to serve these as a sweet biscuit to accompany coffee, leave out the bacon and brush the tops with melted butter plus sprinkle the warm loaves with a light dusting of combined brown sugar and cinnamon powder.


What bacon cut should I use?:

Preferably use back bacon with any hard rind removed. This cut has more meat and flavour than streaky bacon. Back bacon works well in these loaves as their flavour is more noticeable and the texture is less crispy than streaky bacon. Besides streaky bacon has too much fat that will render out while baking and any bacon will be lost in flavour in the final product.

Gluten-Free Cranberry, Walnut & Bacon Loaves

  • 6 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped roughly (use back bacon, preferably)
  • 300g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (leave out if your store-bought flour has xanthan gum)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • 150ml fresh or store-bought orange juice
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted & cooled
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped
  •  150g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Baking time: 25 minutes
  • Cooling down: 10 minutes

1. Chop the bacon rashers into rough pieces, removing any hard rind if present.

2. Fry the bacon without adding any oil over medium heat, stirring often until the bacon’s fat has rendered out of the bacon and they start to turn slightly golden, usually after 5 minutes. Try not to get them too crisp. Set them aside to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

4. Sift the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl.

5. Mix the orange zest, orange juice, eggs and cooled butter in a separate bowl or jug.

6. Create a well in the centre of the sifted mix and pour the orange juice mixture into it.

7. Without overmixing, mix the two mixtures together.

8. Fold in the walnuts, fresh cranberries, bacon and half of the rendered fat from the bacon.

9. Pour the batter into a mini loaf pan (or mini cupcake pan) filling the mixture to the top. The mixture may look slightly stiff, but the cranberries will release some juices while baking and further moisten the mixture.

10. Bake for 25 minutes on the middle shelf, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

11. Allow the bread to cool in the baking pan for 10 minutes.

12. After 10 minutes, remove the bread and allow to cool further on a wire rack.

13. Serve straight away or wrap the bread loaves in plastic film once completely cool and cover them with a clean tea towel. Store in a bread bin or basket until serving time.

Makes 8 mini loaves or 18-20 mini cupcakes

These loaves can be made the day before and reheated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes just before serving. Keep them warm covered with a tea towel.


Serve these cranberry loaves with my easy gluten-free Thanksgiving meal

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