Who doesn’t love a good Christmas cake? It’s one of the most popular desserts of the holiday season, and for good reason. This festive cranberry cake is simple to make and perfect for any occasion. It is made with whole cranberries, and simple pantry staples. The top of the cake has the best, sugary, buttery, flakey layer that makes this cake so scrumptious! The tartness of the cranberries are balanced by the sweetness of the cake. This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.
I recently have been searching for some tasty and delicious recipes to use up the last 4 pounds of cranberries I received from Cape Cod Select. So far, I’ve made Homemade Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Salsa, Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins, and these super moist Cranberry Scones. Everything has been quite delicious, but I wanted a cake recipe. After some searching, I was intrigued to discover this tasty cranberry cake from Barefeet in the Kitchen. It is made with simple ingredients I had on hand so I gave it a whirl. I have to say, I am so glad I did because it was a hit with the family.
If you love simple cakes that aren’t too fluffy, or overly sweet–this is for you! This cake bakes up on a 9×13 pan and can be easily sliced once cooled. I changed up the original recipe a bit by adding fresh orange zest, and I am so glad I did! It really complimented the cake and tasted similar to my Cranberry Orange Bread recipe.
I love this cake so much because it tastes like a pound cake of sorts that has the best flaky, crispy top. It’s surely a keeper and will be making its appearance once again on Christmas Eve!
How to Make Cranberry Cake
Take out your butter and eggs ahead of time to allow them to get to room temperature.
Add the eggs and the sugar to a stand mixer, and mix for 6 minutes on medium speed using the whisk attachment.
Once the eggs and sugar are bright white and ribbony, add in the butter, extract, and orange zest. Beat until combined. Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment, reduce the speed to low, and slowly add in the flour. Once combined, fold in the cranberries.
Line your 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, and spread the batter in the pan.
Bake the cake at 350 degrees F. for 45-50 minutes. I love this Navy Diamond-Infused Wilton Pan (now 58% off Amazon Affiliate) The cake will be firm, golden brown, and flaky to the touch. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean once removed.
Allow the cake to cool for one hour before slicing.
Every great recipe comes with some tips and tricks for baking success! Here are a few tips I learned along the way to make this holiday cake a success!
Use room temperature butter & eggs – Room temperature eggs whip up to maximum volume when they are beaten, while cold eggs will not whip as much. Room temperature butter is also easier to cream with sugar because it incorporates more air into the dough which makes it fluffier and lighter. So if you want fluffy cakes and light cookies this holiday season make sure that your eggs and butter are at room temperature!
Line the Baking Pan – Using parchment paper to bake things like brownies, breads, and bars is a life-saver! It helps keep clean up a breeze, and makes cutting this cake into portions a breeze! There is no need to worry about scraping your pan with a knife since you can remove the cake by grasping the sides of the parchment.
Use a stand mixer – The beauty of this magical cake is that the eggs and sugar beating time allows for a flaky, heavenly layer. You will need to set your mixer on medium speed and beat the two ingredients for 6 minutes. They will be fluffy, bright white, and perfect in texture.
Fresh or frozen cranberries – We used frozen cranberries without any thawing in this recipe. There is no need to chop them either as they will burst in the batter as it bakes. You can also use fresh cranberries if that is what you have on hand.
Cool the cake – This cake has the best flaky, sugary top layer! Unfortunately, it can soften if this cake is covered when it is not fully cooled. Allow the cake to cool for at least 1 hour minimally. If it still feels warm to the touch, increase the time until it is room temperature.
This cake can be stored at room temperature once it has fully cooled. Allow it to cool without a cover so the flaky, crisp top (the best part) can maintain its texture. Once cooled, place the cake in an airtight container, and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Additionally, this cake can be frozen. Allow it to cook fully, and wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag for best taste. I recommend using this within 30 days for the best taste. Simply thaw in the refrigerator before consuming.
More Cranberry Recipes
Love cranberries? So do we! Check out a few more tasty cranberry recipes to try today!
Cranberry Christmas Cake Recipe
- 9×13 cake pan
- parchment paper
- oven (adjusted to the center rack position)
- stand mixer with paddle and whisk attachments
- Measuring Cups & spoons
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 ounces whole cranberries fresh or frozen
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the sugar and eggs. Beat for 6 minutes. The mixture will be thick, fluffy, and ribbon-like.
- Add the room temperature butter, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Beat for an additional 2 minutes on medium speed. Once done, remove the whisk attachment and swap it with the paddle attachment. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the flour slowly.
- Once mixed, and thick, fold in the cranberries. Evenly spread the mixture into the baking pan.
- Bake cake for 40-50 minutes or until the cake is golden brown with a flaky top layer. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will be clean once removed.
- Allow the cake to cool for one hour before removing it from the pan and slicing.