Cranberry, orange and pecan loaf cake

I do love a loaf cake (well, I love any cake really 😉 ). Somehow, they always seem to turn out better than one made in a round tin and require minimal, if any, decoration. I guess they’re just more functional – but still super tasty!

This recipe was devised as a way to use up leftover fresh cranberries at Christmas, as I can’t bear food waste. And leftovers plus cake has to be the perfect combo!

Despite some great organisations like Fair Share who collect and redistribute unused food to prevent it ending up in land fill (as well as feed many hungry people), food waste is still a big problem in the UK and around the world. Here are a few facts from the latest stats I can find, from 2021 (see below for reference):

  • 1.3 billion tonnes of food was wasted, which is about one third of the food produced.
  • The UK alone generated over 9.5 million tons of food waste, with 70% coming from households.
  • Fresh vegetables and salad are still the most frequent type of food thrown away. In the UK, 28% of all food waste comes from vegetables and salad.
  • A British family on average discards approximately £810 worth of food each year (which is a lot when there’s a cost of living crisis!).
  • In the UK, the amount of carbon generated from this wasted food is equal to the amount released by one fifth of the country’s vehicles on the road.

As can be seen, there is much to do close to home; even the smallest changes can make a big difference.

As a rule, I can only ever find fresh cranberries in the shops close to Christmas. However, they are often found in the freezer section, which is good news if you like the sharp, zingy flavour. If you don’t have either, then dried cranberries also work really well, although the cake doesn’t have the same sharpness.

Packed full of vitamin C, perfect to help fight winter coughs and colds, cranberries also contain other powerful plant compounds that support the body. Like a form of anthocyanidin which helps promote bladder health, especially protection against urinary tract infections, a particularly common problem in women (and men in later life).

Of course, because they are so very sharp, cranberries tend to need sweetening before eating, so some of the benefits are negated by sugar. However, I’ve tried to keep this as a low sugar recipe as possible. If you want less, then play around with the amount to suit your taste buds.

Orange and pecan are perfect companions for the cranberries, and seasonal too. I love the rich, buttery flavour of pecan nuts, although they are a little more pricy than other nuts available. You can omit them completely if you so desire – important if you need a nut-free recipe!

This cake fills a 2lb loaf tin perfectly (I wonder why we still tend to measure loaf tins in pounds and weigh ingredients in grams…..? Somehow a 900g loaf tin just doesn’t sound right!). Even if you have a good non-stick tin like this one, it’s a good idea to still line it with non-stick baking paper as there is only a small amount of oil in the recipe. This is definitely a must if you are going for the oil free option, otherwise you may never get the cake out of the tin – not in one piece, which would be a shame.

If you are using dried cranberries instead of fresh or frozen, soak them in hot water for a couple of hours before hand. This softens them up nicely so they don’t get too chewy in the cake. Dried cranberries tend to have sugar added, so soaking also helps to remove some of this.

Dried cranberries do change the appearance of the cake – they’re just not as vibrant. However, and most importantly, it still tastes lovely, so don’t worry you’ll have a less than delightful experience if you’ve only got dried ones to hand.

If you want to be completely oil free, just use extra soya milk instead. The texture will be a little denser, but it still tastes good. And if you are gluten free, I can assure you this loaf cake works a dream with gluten free flour. Maybe it’s because the batter is loose so there’s more fluid available for the flour. I say this as my lemon and blueberry cake is also rather marvellous with gluten free flour. In fact, at a cake stall one time, a lady commented it was the best gluten free cake she had ever eaten – a very proud moment for me!

So whether or not you’re reducing your food waste, or just fancy a super tasty cake, I do hope you give this recipe a go. And let me know how you get on.

Cranberry, orange and pecan loaf cake

A sumptuous low fat, reduced sugar cake perfect for using up leftover cranberries
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Cake
Servings 10 slices


  • non-stick baking paper
  • 2lb loaf tin
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 jug


  • 210 ml soya milk plus 60 ml extra if oil free
  • 1 large orange, juice and zest
  • 250 grams wholewheat or gluten free self-raising flour *
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder *
  • pinch salt
  • 80 grams coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 60 ml olive oil or organic rapeseed oil or see below for oil free option
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 grams cranberries fresh or frozen OR
  • 100 grams dried cranberries soaked in hot water and drained
  • 50 grams pecan nuts optional


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Lightly grease the inside of the loaf tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
  • Pour the soya milk into a jug. Add the orange juice - this will curdle the milk slightly.
  • Pick out 10 nice looking whole pecans and put to one side. Chop the remaining nuts into small pieces.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Stir well to combine.
  • In the jug of milk, add the coconut sugar, maple syrup, oil (if using) and vanilla extract. Whisk it all together.
  • Pour the milk mix into the dry mix and stir well to combine - add the cranberries and pecan nuts as everything comes together. Act swiftly but gently.
  • Pour the mix into the baking tin, spreading it out to the corner. Tap it on the work top. Arrange the pecan nuts on the top, gently pressing them into the mix and swiftly transfer the tin to the oven.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the tin from the oven. Pierce with a cocktail stick or skewer to check it is done - if it comes out a bit sticky then return to the oven for a couple more minutes.
  • Once the loaf is done, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning it out on to a cooling rack. Leave to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.


*If you only have plain wholewheat or gluten free flour, add an extra teaspoon of baking powder to get a good raise
Keyword dairy free cake, egg free cake, gluten free, low fat, OMS friendly, vegan cake

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