Holiday treats too often amount to sugar bombs, offering little flavor beyond one-note sweetness. Which is why London’s Luminary Bakery recently captured our attention with their cranberry, orange and white chocolate soda bread: a beautifully balanced baked good packed with festive flavors, minus any cloying overkill.

Even more intriguing was the sheer simplicity of the recipe: This tender-crumbed treat requires just eight ingredients—none of which are butter, eggs or white sugar.

Instead, this bread gets its sweetness from dried cranberries and chopped white chocolate, while a hint of orange zest adds brightness and complexity. Meanwhile, the recipe doubles up on flours—whole wheat flour and white flour—to maximize the bread’s flavor. And its richness and toothsome texture come from one particularly effective ingredient: buttermilk.

“Buttermilk is brilliant at bringing tenderness to a bake without contributing much fat,” says Kaila H. Johnson, a team member at Luminary Bakery, which was created to provide culinary training to disadvantaged women. “It’s all thanks to the lactic acid that buttermilk contains—it tenderizes gluten, preventing it from forming long and chewy strands and keeping products soft.”

Further, the lactic acid is a powerful leavener when mixed with baking soda, resulting in a plush, cake-­­like crumb—unlike so many soda breads, which often have a tendency be overly dense and dry.

This soda bread hearkens back to Luminary’s beginnings. In those days, the bakery’s kitchen was too small to accommodate the kind of yeasted breads that require precious counter space for rising. “We needed a bread recipe that we could whack straight in the oven,” Johnson says. Soda bread fit the bill, and the team soon began experimenting with flavor combinations. “When Christmas came around, this cranberry, orange and white chocolate one became a firm favorite,” she says.

And one that has staying power. “It’s the perfect bread to throw together on a wintry morning for breakfast. It’s in and out of the oven in under an hour and is especially good warm while the chocolate’s still soft,” Johnson says.