Cranberry Apricot Loaf (A Keks Recipe)

This sweet cranberry apricot loaf made our house smell like Christmas morning. It is soft, moist, crumbly and loaded with tang of cranberries and apricots.

This sweet Cranberry Apricot Loaf made our house smell like Christmas morning. It is soft, moist, crumbly and loaded with the sweet tang of cranberries and apricots. This Cranberry Apricot Loaf is infused with clementine zest. And it’s amazing! I’m craving a slice just writing about it. Good thing we made it today and still have some left. Phew!

We’ve been experimenting with different Keks recipes and this is our favorite. Keks is a traditional Russian Christmas dessert bread. It’s a cross between a coffee cake and a fruit cake; definitely a comfort food. This recipe was inspired by one of our readers, Tanya, who shared her family’s keks recipe with us. Tanya, I love that you use kefir. It balances the whole loaf and makes it so so good!  

Ingredients for Keks

1 1/2 cups plain kefir (this is not the same as buttermilk; found it at Fred Meyer)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs (cold is ok)
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted (but not hot)
4 Tbsp extra light olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour *measured correctly
1 tsp clementine or orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1/2 cup dried apricots

Cranberry Apricot Loaf

How to Make a Cranberry Apricot Loaf:

Preheat the Oven to 350 ˚ F. Butter and flour a bread loaf pan.
1. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups kefir and 1 tsp baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-6

It will look fluffier when it’s ready:

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-2

2. Chop dried apricots into pieces about the size of your dried cranberries. In a medium bowl, cover craisins and dried apricots with boiling hot water and let sit two (2) minutes, then drain well and set aside to dry in a colander.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-7

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until pale in color (3 min on high speed). Mix in 1 stick melted butter, 4 Tbsp olive oil and  1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Stir to combine.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-8

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-9

4. Whisk in the prepared kefir and baking soda until well blended.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-10

5. Mix in the 2 cups flour until everything is well blended.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-11

6. Finally fold in the craisins, chopped apricots and clementine or orange zest.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-12

7. Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and give it a little shake to even out the top.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-13

Bake in the center of the oven at 350˚F for 60 to 70 minutes. (make sure your bread isn’t too close to the top of the oven or the top will get too dark). Check the center with a wooden toothpick. It’s done when the toothpick comes out clean.

Let the loaf cool inside the pan until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You don’t want to add powdered sugar if it’s warm or it will melt onto the bread. Finally, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy.

Cranberry Apricot Loaf-3
This sweet cranberry apricot loaf made our house smell like Christmas morning. It is soft, moist, crumbly and loaded with tang of cranberries and apricots.

Merry Christmas! Do you have any special holiday baking traditions?

Cranberry Apricot Loaf (A Keks Recipe)

4.86 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
This sweet cranberry apricot loaf made our house smell like Christmas morning. It is soft, moist, crumbly and loaded with tang of cranberries and apricots.
This sweet bread made our house smell like Christmas morning. It is soft, moist, crumbly and loaded with the sweet tang of cranberries and apricots. And it's infused with clementine zest. And it's amazing! I'm craving a slice just writing about it. Good thing we made it today and still have some left. Phew! We've been experimenting with different Keks recipes and this is our favorite. Keks is a traditional Russian Christmas dessert bread. It's a cross between a coffee cake and a fruit cake; definitely a comfort food.
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Skill Level: Easy/Medium
Cost to Make: $6-$8
Servings: 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain kefir this is not the same as buttermilk; found it at Fred Meyer
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs cold is ok
  • 1 stick 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (but not hot)
  • 4 Tbsp extra light olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp clementine or orange zest
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries craisins
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots

Instructions

  1. Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a bread loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups kefir and 1 tsp baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside for 20 minutes. It will look fluffier when it's ready:
  3. Chop dried apricots into pieces about the size of your dried cranberries. In a medium bowl, cover craisins and dried apricots with boiling hot water and let sit two (2) minutes, then drain well and set aside to dry in a colander.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until pale in color (3 min on high speed). Mix in 1 stick melted butter (not hot butter, just warm), 4 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  5. Whisk in the prepared kefir and baking soda until well blended.
  6. Mix in the 2 cups flour until everything is well blended.
  7. Finally fold in the craisins, chopped apricots and clementine zest.
  8. Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and give it a little shake to even out the top.
  9. Bake in the center of the oven at 350 for 60 to 70 minutes. Check the center with a wooden toothpick. It's done when the toothpick comes out clean. Let the loaf cool inside the pan until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Once it's cooled, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

PS. Make sure your bread isn't too close to the top of the oven while baking or the top will get too dark.
PPS. You don't want to add powdered sugar to a warm loaf or it will melt onto the bread. Let it cool completely to room temp.

Nutrition Facts
Cranberry Apricot Loaf (A Keks Recipe)
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 42.8
% Daily Value*
Total Carbohydrates 10.7g 4%
Sugars 3.6g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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natashaskitchen

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Rose Bedard
    March 30, 2018

    You sure have some lovely rescipes Natasha I’m making my blueberry cake to-tomorrow,,@ bringing it to my familys house,,for Easter,,thanks for sharing,,,,Happy Easter.. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 30, 2018

      My pleasure Rose! Please let me know what everyone thinks of the recipe! Reply

  • Chew Yoke Ching
    October 16, 2016

    Lovely Apricot Cranberry cake recipe.
    I tested out tdy and use yogurt mixed with some milk (I don’t have any kefir) , only used less than 1 cup of sugar , add some golden raisins And it turned out moist and light and yummy!

    I just don’t seem to get the nice dark colour like your cake, mine looks pale! Any advice?

    Thank you for sharing your lovely recipes.

    Chew
    Malaysia Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      October 17, 2016

      Hi Chew, I’m not sure if it may have something to do with the recipe substitutions such as using less sugar. Did you use the same dried fruits or did you omit them and use golden raisins instead? I haven’t tested it without kefir because it works so well with it and I’m just not sure if that would cause a color difference either?? Reply

  • Tonya
    September 12, 2016

    Natasha,
    I finally got around to making this bread and it is super delicious!!!!!! I reduced sugar to only 1 cup and it was plenty sweet. I first thought that the bread won’t be sweet enough, but I worried all for nothing. I used buttermilk 3.25% and from this batter, I made 1 normal size loaf and 2 loafs 5×3-in. We ate it hot (b/c it smelled so heavenly, that we could not continue to wait) and it was bed-time😉. So, little one ate it with cold milk and when I asked how was it? She had two thumbs up and said that it is delicious!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes that work and taste delicious!!!!! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 12, 2016

      I’m all smiles reading your comment and imagining the sweet scene of your little one giving two thumbs up 🙂 Thank you for sharing that with me 🙂 Reply

  • Meleah Gray
    January 2, 2016

    I made this yesterday and it is SOOOO delicious! I love to find new sweet breads to make into mini loaves and give away. This is one of my favorites. Thank you for this recipe! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 2, 2016

      Awesome!! I’m so happy you loved the recipe :). I love your idea of turning it into mini loaves! If you tried them as mini loaves already, did you have to adjust the baking time and how long did you bake? Reply

  • Thalia Munga
    December 23, 2015

    Hi Natasha!
    This recipe looks and sounds amazing! I’m planing to try this recipe for my husband, he loves breads like this one. I’m not familiar with Kefir though. What is it and where can I find it? If I can’t find it at my local grocery store is there a substitute I can use instead?

    Thank you! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 24, 2015

      The closest substitute is buttermilk. One of my readers tried it and reported great results 🙂 Reply

  • Suzanne
    November 19, 2015

    This bread looks amazing! I am planning to make this for my daughter’s teacher this week. Unfortunately, I only have mini loaf pans. Would you be able to let me know the baking time for the mini loaves? Thank you so much! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 19, 2015

      Hi Suzanne, that is so sweet of you to make it for your daughters teacher. Unfortunately, without testing it in mini loaf pans myself, I really couldn’t tell you exactly. I would definitely recommend baking until a toothpick comes out clean. I’d start checking after 30 minutes depending on how small your loaf pans are – if they are very tiny, you might check sooner. Reply

  • Susanna
    December 22, 2014

    hello Natalia!
    Used your recipe and absolutely loved it!!!
    Thank you 🙂 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 22, 2014

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you Susanna 🙂 Reply

  • Alena
    January 9, 2014

    OOOHHHH MY GOOODNESS!!! This sweet bread is to die for!!! i know Christmas past but had to make it and oh my gosh, it is the best KEKS i ever tried, i tried soo many other kinds and none of them were sooo moist as this one, i made one last night and i think i’ll be making two more loafs tonight for my work and my husbands work!! I dont know where u got this recipe but definatly a keeper and keep them coming:) i just love you, your wonderful family and your lovely site:) thank you Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 9, 2014

      Thank you so much for a great review! I’m so glad you loved it! It was actually inspired by one of my readers, Tanya. 🙂 Reply

      • Alena
        January 9, 2014

        Oh thats right u wrote that:) lol well thank you to Tanya and to you for sharing it with us 🙂 Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          January 9, 2014

          🙂 Reply

  • Dasha
    December 25, 2013

    I made this today and it’s absolutely delicious! Thank you, Natasha, for another awesome recipe! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 25, 2013

      Awesome!!! That’s so cool that it was part of your Christmas!! 🙂 Reply

      • Sandra AWinston
        December 30, 2013

        In Central TX. where can one find the product kefir at what grocery store ? Reply

        • Sandra AWinston
          December 30, 2013

          OK Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          December 30, 2013

          I found it at Fred Meyer. Reply

  • May
    December 24, 2013

    I just made some mini loaves & cupcakes, the taste is very good; but it seems too wet. I’ve already cut out the oil. Maybe there’s too much fruit? Or maybe my kefir is not thick enough like the store bought one? (I cultivate my own). Definitely need to try again! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 24, 2013

      It might have something to do with the kefir. Hmmm… I’m surprised that they were “wet” in the mini loaves and cupcakes. Maybe they just needed to be baked a little longer? Reply

  • Lidiya
    December 23, 2013

    Made this loaf this morning. SO GOOD!!!!
    Thank you for this amazing recipe! 🙂 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 23, 2013

      I’m glad you like it, thank you for the good report Lidiya :). Reply

  • lena
    December 22, 2013

    I made this with buttermilk and it turned out amazing!!!!!!! Thank you! My family enjoyed it. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 22, 2013

      Thanks so much for sharing that! It’s great to know that buttermilk works well 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Reply

  • December 21, 2013

    This is the best recipe for keks!!! I made is with coconut oil instead of olive oil. It tasted amazing! Love it!!!
    Thank you for a delicious recipe Natasha 🙂 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 21, 2013

      What a great idea and thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 Reply

  • Pat Tucker
    December 21, 2013

    I have a question…followed the recipe/pics, no problem with prepping. In my aluminum colored pan it didn’t come out as dark, in my dark colored pan, like yours, it came out darker, hmmmm. But anyway, when taking it out of the pans, the bottoms seemed a bit oily/moist….has good flavor, but can the olive oil be cut back to 3 tablespoons instead of 4 tablespoons??? My Wegman’s store was out of regular Kefir…all they had was organic, bought it anyway.

    Thanks and have a Merry Christmas….. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 21, 2013

      I think it would still work well with 3 Tbsp. I’m not sure why the difference in the pans… I haven’t tried baking it in an aluminum pan. That’s interesting. I wonder if it is the difference in the pans that is making it moist on the bottom since mine was pretty dry on the bottom. Hmm… I wish I knew the answer to this mystery! Reply

  • Tanya
    December 21, 2013

    This was one good keks, my family enjoyed it. Thank you Natasha!! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 21, 2013

      That’s awesome! I’m so glad your family liked it 🙂 Merry Christmas! Reply

  • Elizabeth
    December 21, 2013

    Just made this today. Yumm!!!!! It will go well with the Polish/Russian dishes I am making for Christmas. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 21, 2013

      Awesome!!!! I’m so glad you liked it! What other polish dishes are you making? I’d love to do more polish cooking. It’s fairly similar to Russian/Ukrainian. Reply

  • Irene
    December 20, 2013

    Perfect for Christmas! Thank you! Will def be making this Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 21, 2013

      Thank you and I hope you love it!! 🙂 Reply

  • Natasha
    December 20, 2013

    I have great cookie recipe with kefir. It’s delicious and easy. Like it better than with sour cream Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 20, 2013

      Oh, please share!! 🙂 Reply

  • December 20, 2013

    Beautiful loaf! I love dried apricots in dessert breads, and I also love baking with kefir or Greek yogurt – both are wonderful for cakes. I can’t even imagine NOT baking with them any more! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 20, 2013

      I don’t think I’ve tried baking with Greek yogurt! Thanks for the tip! I imagine it can be subbed for recipes that call for sour cream… Reply

  • December 20, 2013

    Your pictures are gorgeous! I’ve never heard of keks but seeing your pics makes me want a piece of it. It looks so pretty and delicious. 🙂 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 20, 2013

      Tina thank you so much for the compliments 🙂 Reply

  • lena
    December 20, 2013

    If using buttermilk will it turn out different? I just dont have kefir. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 20, 2013

      I haven’t tried this recipe with buttermilk but I imagine it would work. I would still recommend getting kefir for best results. Reply

  • Liz
    December 20, 2013

    Looks and sounds delicious. Thank you, Natasha. Happy Holidays to you and your family. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 20, 2013

      You’re welcome Liz. I hope you have a wonderful and beautiful Christmas! 🙂 Reply

  • December 20, 2013

    Looks delicious! I love baking with kefir, it’s truly a magic ingredient. I haven’t had a real Russian keks for ages. So excited to try this recipe. My kids go crazy for quick breads! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 20, 2013

      Julia, I’m so curious about what other recipes you use kefir for? I’ve been reading up on it and it seems way healthier than regular buttermilk. I would really like to incorporate it more in my food. Reply

      • December 20, 2013

        My mom only used kefir for blini, never milk and I am so used to a slightly tangy taste of her recipe that it’s the only taste I recognize as real Russian blini. 🙂 I know it’s not the case but it is for me. I have the recipe posted on my blog. I put kefir in smoothies. Super yum! I substitute it for milk and buttermilk in any recipe. You can marinate chicken in it, just add any spices you like. I drink it plain because I really love the taste. Some people find it too tart but I grew up drinking it and love it. The health benefits are incredible. Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          December 20, 2013

          Oh my goodness you’re making me hungry! I can only imagine how much better my buttermilk pancakes would be as kefir pancakes. Yum! I’ll definitely have to give that a whirl next time I make them. I have always loved drinking buttermilk with cookies. Kefir tastes even better! Thanks Julia for sharing 🙂 Reply

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