This easy cranberry orange cake is the perfect Christmas dessert! Loaded with cranberries and sweet orange flavor, this homemade cranberry orange cake recipe is a family favorite! Plus, this is topped with an orange cream cheese frosting that is rich, creamy, and ultra-delish!
Thank you Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post! Thank you for supporting the brands that help make A Latte Food possible.
We love how elegant yet easy this Cranberry Orange Cake is! This is one of my favorite cakes, and once you learn how to make a cake from scratch, you might skip the box mixes forever!
Nine times out of ten, my grocery cart looks like I’m preparing for a real life version of Candy Land (but really, can that be a thing? Because I think I would dominate at that game).
I tend to go a little overboard when shopping for blog related products, as in, instead of purchasing one bag of chocolate chips or some sort of Christmas candy, I end up buying about twelve.
It always makes checking out a real party, because it’s never awkward at all when the cashier has to scan 12 boxes of chocolate, 8 cans of evaporated milk, 5 bags of sugar, 3 bags of cranberries, and a partridge in a pear tree.
At least during this time of the year, I can blame it on Christmas, because who is going to dispute anything that has to do with spreading a little Christmas cheer?
And this cranberry orange cake spreads a lot of Christmas cheer.
I’m a big baker year around (big surprise, I know), but during Christmas, my whole family gets involved. We love to turn up the Christmas music, pull out the flour (Bob’s Red Mill, of course!), and get our bake on.
This year involved my sweet niece, though she was more interested in her toes than the baking process.
Though in a few years, I have this feeling she’ll be just as interested in cake as we all are. Between her auntie and her mommy and their frequent cupcake runs, she’ll have no choice in the matter. Perhaps at Christmas, this cranberry orange cake will be her first introduction to cake??
(And also an introduction to German Chocolate Pecan Pie, Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie, and this No Bake Cranberry Orange Cream Pie…)
Reasons Why I Love This Recipe:
- This cake uses fresh oranges and fresh cranberries!
- It’s such a fluffy and moist cake with such a tender crumb.
- The orange cream cheese frosting is to die for!
- This Cranberry Orange Cake has a few steps to it, but it actually is very simple to make from scratch!
- eggs, separated: they’re separated because you’re going to whip the egg whites and add them to the cake separately from the yolks. This makes your cake SO fluffy!
- unsalted butter and canola oil: both butter and oil are used because butter gives flavor and oil gives moisture.
- granulated sugar
- all purpose flour
- cornstarch: this makes sure the cranberry orange cake is so tender.
- baking soda, baking powder, salt
- vanilla extract, milk, and sour cream
- orange zest
- fresh cranberries + flour: tossing the cranberries in flour keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes.
- unsalted butter
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
- orange juice and orange zest
- vanilla extract
I first heard about Bob’s Red Mill when my sister-in-law realized she had a gluten allergy, as they offer a great selection of gluten-free products (as well as regular products, including the Organic Unbleached White Flour I used in this recipe).
The more I learned about the company, the more I realized this company was founded on both heart and quality, and ever since, Bob’s has been a staple in the kitchen!
What I love about Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour is that it is freshly milled and free from any additives.
This flour is incredibly versatile, as it can be used in all types of baking recipes, and you can rest assured that it makes light, fluffy baked goods, including this delish (if I do say so myself ?) cake!
The Best Cranberry Orange Cake Trouble Shooting Tips:
How Do I Make This Cake Moist and Fluffy?
- sour cream: sour cream makes cakes so moist and incredibly fluffy. Make sure you use the full fat sour cream too!
- egg whites: when you separate the eggs and whip the egg whites, the egg whites get folded into the batter. This makes the cake extra airy, which makes it extra fluffy.
- oil: oil makes cakes very moist. It doesn’t add any flavor so that’s why I use butter and oil in this cake recipe.
- don’t over mix: when you’re mixing, make sure you mix until the dry ingredients and wet ingredients are *just* combined. If you mix and mix and mix, you’ll over mix the batter, which will make a really dense, dry and crumbly cake.
How Do I Keep The Cranberries From Sinking to the Bottom?
- toss the cranberries in a little bit of flour before adding them to the batter. This will keep them from sinking.
Tips and Tricks on how to make a Cranberry Orange Cake from scratch:
- This might seem like an obvious statement, but I’m going to say it anyway: Read all the instructions from start to finish before you do anything else. This will help familiarize you with the recipe and help you from skipping a step or making a mistake.
- Sift all dry ingredients. This used to be a step I’d like to skip because I didn’t really think it mattered all that much. Guys, I was wrong. Sifting the dry ingredients ensures the cake is light, fluffy, and tender. If you don’t sift, the cake can be very heavy and dense.
- I like a nice thin layer of frosting on my cakes and in-between the cake layers; however, feel free to double the recipe if you like a thick layer of frosting.
Christmas desserts, I ❤️ you!
This easy cranberry orange cake is the perfect Christmas dessert! Loaded with cranberries and sweet orange flavor, this homemade cranberry orange cake recipe is a family favorite! Plus, this is topped with an orange cream cheese frosting.
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk (2% is fine as well)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups cranberries, fresh (plus 1 Tbsp flour)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 Tbsp orange juice, fresh squeezed preferably
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- salt, to taste
- Cranberries (sugared would work as well!)
- Orange Slices
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and grease three 9" round cake pans with baking spray. Set aside.
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites, allowing egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (it's easier to separate the eggs when cold, but it is better to whip the egg whites when they are at room temperature). Set aside.
- With a mixer, beat butter until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in oil, beating until well combined. Add in sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing until well combined, about 1 minute. Add in egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Mix together vanilla extract, milk, sour cream, and orange zest.
- Alternately, mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients with the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Gently fold egg whites into the batter until it combined.
- Toss cranberries with flour (this helps keep the cranberries from sinking to the bottom of the batter) and gently fold them into the batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Beat butter and cream cheese until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add in orange zest and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, starting with 4 cups. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, and mix until combined. Add in orange juice, 1 Tbsp at a time, beginning with 2 Tbsp.
- If the frosting is too thin, add in the last cup of powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add in the last Tbsp of orange juice. Once it has reached your desired consistency, add in a pinch of salt (this helps balance out the sweetness).
- Set the bottom cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Spread the top with 1/2 cup of frosting, reaching the frosting the edge of the cake. Top with the middle layer, and repeat the process. Place the final layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
- Add toppings, if desired.
For the zest and orange juice in both the batter and frosting, I used one large orange (2 medium would work as well).
Here are some other recipe you might love:
Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
Medha @ Whisk & Shout says
This cake looks so moist and packed with flavor! Love the frosting with the zest 🙂
Heather | Heather Likes Food says
Yum! What a great variation for something sweet!
Amy Stafford says
This is a gorgeous cake, I love all the color peeking through out the cake.
Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious says
I would like a big slab of THAT Christmas cheer on MY plate! Looks absolutely stunning!
Jenny | Honey and Birch says
Bwahaha, we should never go grocery shopping together. Making chocolate chip cookies today and I just bought 10 bags of chocolate chips. Food blogger problems 😉
Haha, so true! Thanks, Jenny!
cathy - Noble Pig says
Such a favorite combo of mine, always has been.
Nora | Savory Nothings says
Haha, I once made a huge New York Cheesecake, and I had to buy 3 pounds of cream cheese. The cashier looked at me like a crazy person 😀 I love this cake, Michelle! So festive!
Haha! Thanks, Nora!
Renee - Kudos Kitchen says
What a stunning cake. I love the wway the cranberries burst with color inside the cake. It’s so pretty!
Thank you, Renee!
[email protected] Complete Savorist says
What a stunning cake. I would love to have this on my holiday table this year.
Sue G. says
Thank you for sharing this recipe! This is definitely a new family favorite. It’s moist, flavorful and beautiful too. I used a slice of orange on top with a pile of angered cranberries and it was as gorgeous as it was delicious.
This is absolutely gorgeous! I’m in love with the color. I think I could just eat it with a spoon. Yumm..
Debby Snyder says
Have you tried this one in a 9×13 pan? Or would it need a larger pan? All I know is I will be making this one! Cranberries are my addiction! Thanks for all the great recipes!!!
Hi, Debby! (Sorry for the late response–this one slipped through the cracks!) I actually have not made it in a pan before. I think it would work, but am not entirely positive. The bake time might vary a bit since the batter is in one pan instead of dispersed between 3 pans. 🙂 Hope that helps!
Is that correct? Same amount of sugar and flour?!
(2 1/4 Cup)
Hi Lisa, those amounts are correct. Because of the tartness of the cranberries, there is quite a bit of sugar in the cake. 🙂 Also, this cake is large (3 layers), so the ingredient amounts are large as well. Thanks! 🙂
Carmel Watson says
This cakes looks beautiful. I am wondering though; cranberries are quite tart, how are they to bite into in the cake?
I only have 2 cake pans. So how much longer do you think the baking time would be?
Hi, Linda! While I am not 100% positive, based on my experience, I think it would only need about 9-10 extra minutes. However, just to be sure, I would keep an eye on the cake to make sure it doesn’t get overdone. 🙂
Made this cake, sliced several pieces, laid on a santa tray & gave to daughter in law to take to work. She said they were having a contest of desserts so she would enter it. She text me & said it won 1st place, guess i picked a winner to try for Christmas, lol, Thanx
I made this cake and though it was time consuming it came out great. Both the cake and frosting were wonderful. I added a few sprinkles of green sugar on top with cranberries and orange slices. Pretty for Christmas. Next time I would do less frosting because it was so sweet. Or maybe try more cream cheese and less sugar. But definitely a keeper.
This is a divine cake. I made it for Friday cake last week with my own version of Orange Cream Cheese Icing and posted about it on my blog.
Hi there! Do you use salted or unsalted butter (for both the cake and the frosting)? I assume unsalted….but sometimes I’m surprised!
Hi Brittany! Yes, I do use unsalted for both! 🙂
Made this for our family Christmas dinner. I live in Jamaica where fresh cranberries are rare, but found a small container and supplemented with craisins. Also adapted your buttercream a bit to hold up better in our warmer temperatures. THIS WAS LOVELY, YUMMY AND BEAUTIFUL TOO!!! It was the photo that made me stop and look. Thank you for sharing it. Everyone loved it. Will definitely try again when I can find enough fresh cranberries.
Thank you, Shelley! ❤️
D. Jackson says
Can i use all purpose flour for this cake?
Yes! It’ll work perfectly.
Super delicious! I didn’t have sour cream so I replaced the sour creme with greek yogurt. I also reduced the amount needed for sugar and instead of 2 and 1/4 cups of sugar, I used 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar. Cake was flavorful, moist, and wonderful. Hubby and teen-age kids gobbled it up! Thank you!
Coco Pate says
Would this work in 3 8in pans??
Hi! I think it would work great in three 8″ pans. The bake time might be a couple of minutes longer, but I think it should bake up just fine. 🙂 Thank you! ❤️
Can I use frozen cranberries?
Hi Tina! I have not tried this recipe with frozen cranberries, but a couple other readers have tried it and they told me it turned out well for them. Hope that helps!
Made this cake today as hubby bought a bag of cranberries and Orange cranberry are my favorite combo flavor! The cake turned out so moist and yummy! Although am not a big fan of frosting I went all the way on this one and iced it too. Looked great and tasted delicious though a tad sweeter. Next time may add less sugar in the cake or skip the icing. All in all a keeper recipe!
I want to give this cake more stars! I made this cake for a birthday last week and it was easily the best cake I’ve made to date. It had a beautiful texture and great flavor, every person loved it. I bake a lot but I’ve never had such high praise so thank you for this recipe! From now on this will be the base of all my white cakes and just change up the flavors. My dad loves a coconut raisin cake with cranberries and I think I can make that happen with this recipe – I can’t wait to try later this week! THANK YOU.
This cake is a family favorite at Christmas. I’m curious, could you turn these in to cupcakes? If so, around how long to bake?
Lisa Hurt says
This is the best cake I have ever made. It is moist and not real sweet. It is sweet and tart in one bite.