Cranberry Pull-Apart Sourdough Loaf

An easy, festive breakfast bread that can be made the night before

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Cranberry Pull-Apart Bread

This is another one of those recipes that looks pretty & impressive, but couldn't be easier. Unlike many pull-apart bread recipes, you don't have to make this bread from scratch and go through all of the mixing, kneading and waiting. This recipe starts with a loaf of good store-bought sourdough bread.

I've made garlic butter bread in a similar way before--slicing the loaf, spreading on garlic butter, wrapping it in foil, and heating it. But, it wasn't until I saw an inviting recipe for Cinnamon Roll Pulls at a great blog called Plain Chicken that it occurred to me that this same technique could be used for a sweet breakfast bread. I love spreading cranberry sauce on toast for breakfast, and thought it would be a perfect flavor to add to one of these easy baked loafs.

This would be a lovely addition to a holiday breakfast or brunch. It's warm, buttery, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth addictive. The tartness and texture of the sourdough bread is the perfect complement to the sweet, buttery cranberry spread. You can quickly assemble the loaf the day before and have it ready to pop it in the oven in the morning.

Step-by-step photos for making
Cranberry Pull-Apart Sourdough Loaf

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients: sourdough bread loaf, butter, whole berry cranberry sauce, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, powdered sugar, milk

  • About the cranberry sauce: Whole berry sauce is recommended so there are visible pieces of cranberries in the bread--otherwise it just looks like pink bread. You can buy prepared whole cranberry sauce, but it's easy to make your own. 

Click here for my recipe for Classic Cranberry Sauce

  • About the sourdough bread: I've made this recipe a couple of times and learned that not all sourdough bread is created equal. The first loaf I bought from my grocery store bakery. It was very soft and difficult to cut without crushing the loaf. I bought the second loaf (the 20-oz loaf pictured below) from the bakery at Whole Foods. It had a firmer texture, great flavor and was much easier to cut. Day old bread works well; in fact, it's much easier to cut. Once heated, it tastes freshly baked.


Step 2: With a serrated bread knife, use a gentle sawing motion to cut 1/2- to 1-inch wide slices. Cut almost all the way to the bottom, but stop just short of cutting all the way through. I cut this loaf into 12 slices.

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Step 3. In a small bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the butter and honey.

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Step 4. Add the cranberry sauce, cinnamon, and vanilla and blend into the butter. Don't over mix it--you want pieces of the berries to remain visible. The spread looks lumpy, but it will all melt together when the bread is baked.

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Step 5. Use a rubber spatula or table knife to spread butter between each of the slices. Carefully, spread it all the way to the bottom of each slice. Don't worry about spreading both sides of the slice. Once the loaf is wrapped and baked, the melted butter will spread to both sides.

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Step 6. Cut the loaf down the center in the opposite direction of the slices. Make two more evenly spaced slices on either side of the center slice. The result is that each full slice is cut into quarters. You can continue to cut the slices into smaller pieces if you like, but I find it easier to cut and serve when the slices are cut into fourths as pictured below.

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Step 7. Wrap the loaf in aluminum foil. Place it on a tray and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until heated through.

  • MAKE AHEAD TIP -- You can assemble the loaf, wrap it in foil, and put it in the fridge until you're ready to bake it. It will hold up to 24 hours in the fridge.

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Step 8. While the loaf heats in the oven, mix the glaze. Add milk to the powdered sugar and stir with a fork until smooth.

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Step 9. Stir in the cranberry sauce, leaving visible pieces of cranberries. Love that gorgeous color!

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After baking the bread for 30 minutes, check a center piece to make sure the butter spread is completely melted. Return it to the oven, if needed. 

Step 10. Remove the heated loaf from foil and put it on a serving plate. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

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Step 11. Drizzle on the glaze.

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In case you're wondering...yes, this tastes as good as it looks! The bread is so buttery, and the flavors of cranberry sauce, honey butter, and sourdough are fantastic together.


This could accompany other breakfast or brunch entrees, but it also works as the main event.


Keep a knife handy on the serving platter so that full pieces can be cut all the way to the bottom.


Leftovers? Unlikely. But, if you do have some left, it keeps and reheats well the next day. Put a slice or two on a plate, zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds, and it tastes like you just baked it. Yum! 


Make it a yummy day!

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Cranberry Pull-Apart Sourdough Loaf
By Monica              Servings: 8-10 servings
  • 1 unsliced loaf sourdough bread
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (store-bought or make your own with recipe at
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons whole cranberry sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bread into even slices, 1/2- to 1-inch wide, cutting almost all the way through, but leaving each slice attached to loaf at bottom. Blend butter and honey with electric mixer; blend in cranberry sauce, vanilla, & cinnamon just until mixed with pieces of cranberries still visible. (Spread will be lumpy.) Use rubber spatula or table knife to spread butter mixture inside each slice, spreading all the way to the bottom of the slices. Wrap loaf in aluminum foil, place on baking sheet, bake until warm throughout and butter spread is completely melted, approx. 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze: in small bowl, whisk powdered sugar and milk with a fork; whisk in cranberry sauce. Set aside. Remove heated loaf from oven, remove from foil, and transfer to serving platter; let rest for 10 minutes. Drizzle with glaze and serve.
MAKE AHEAD TIP: You can assemble the loaf, wrap it in foil, and put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Return loaf to room temperature before baking.
REHEATING TIP: Leftovers are still good the next day. Put a slice or two on a plate, zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds, and it tastes like you just baked it.
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Posted on Friday, December 9th, 2011

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