Cranberry Christmas Cake
The easiest Christmas dessert! This cranberry Christmas cake has a tart cranberry flavor paired with a sweet, buttery taste. It’s soft, light, and the perfect addition to the Holiday dessert table.
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Though it’s made with only 6 ingredients, this cranberry cake is one that everyone wants double helpings of. This is because with refreshing bursts of fresh cranberries in every bite, it’s a cake that’s light but rich in flavor. Make it in advance and save yourself the kitchen time or at least double batch it and give it out to neighbors as a friendly-food gift. This cranberry Christmas cake is perfect for any occasion.
I love to double this recipe and bake this cake in round disposable aluminum pans with lids for gift giving. To make for easy removal from the pans, I like the cake pans with parchment paper.
Why You’ll Love the Recipe
Flavor: deliciously tart cranberries with a buttery cake texture that everyone loves.
Easy to make with only a handful of ingredients this cranberry cake comes together easily and doesn’t require additional grocery trips.
Versatile: it’s a tasty recipe as written but there are also a lot of ways to vary the cake based on your personal preferences.
- Eggs: try to let your eggs come to room temperature before you beat them.
- Sugar: regular white sugar will blend into the cake batter best here.
- Unsalted butter: let your butter soften at room temperature so that it mixes in with the eggs best. You don’t want it melted as it will create a different texture, just softened.
- Vanilla extract: since there are so few ingredients, the higher the quality of your vanilla the better the flavor will come through.
- All-purpose flour: sift your flour first so that no clumps remain, and you can measure evenly.
- Fresh cranberries: you can use frozen cranberries if that’s what you have, but see the notes on how best to work them in.
As this cranberry Christmas cake is so simple, there are lots of ways to vary it! Try one of the following ideas if you wish to switch up the flavor a bit.
Blueberry: of course, blueberries work easily in place of cranberries and give a whole new taste. This is wonderful in the summer months when blueberries are abundant and so high in flavor.
Nuts: add a bit of crunch to the cranberry cake by mixing in some chopped pecans or almonds into the batter.
Flavoring: adding some orange or almond extract can be a tiny tweak but one that brings a ton of flavor with it.
Topping: You can dust the top with sifted powdered sugar for an extra sweet touch, if desired.
Tips For Success
Beating the eggs – There is no baking soda or baking powder in the cranberry Christmas cake. To counter this, you need to beat the eggs for an extended time period (roughly 7 minutes) until they’re almost thickened. This acts as the leavening agent and is what will give the cake its fluffy texture.
Cranberries – Fresh cranberries work best in the recipe. However, if you have a ton of frozen ones they can easily be used also. Let them sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes before you mix them in though. If you mix them in completely frozen, they will harden the batter and the texture will be compromised. However, if you mix them in once thawed, you’ll dye the batter pink, and the cranberries won’t give that “pop” of freshness that this cake is known for.
The Crust – You’ll notice that there is no glaze or topping on the cranberry Christmas cake. Though you can easily add a crumble topping, it’s not needed. As written, a crust forms on top of the cake when baked. This crust has a delicious crumbly, buttery texture and makes it so that no glaze is needed.
How To Stir the Ingredients – You’ll be using an electric mixer to beat the eggs. However, when it comes to adding in the cranberries, use a wooden spoon to fold them in. This is to ensure that they don’t burst while stirring.
How To Store It – This cranberry cake is best stored at room temperature lightly covered. If you cover it tightly, then the top won’t have the same texture so light wrapping is best. Like this, it will last on the counter for up to 3 days. You can freeze the cranberry cake as well but let it thaw uncovered at room temperature if you’d like it to retain its moist texture. If stored in the fridge, the crust on top tends to go a bit softer and less buttery.
Both frozen and fresh cranberries can be used in baking recipes. If you use frozen cranberries, do not thaw them fully before mixing them in as they’ll add extra water to the recipe and dye the batter a light pink. Instead, let them sit on the counter for just 5 minutes and mix them in. This way, they don’t cause the batter to become too cold either.
To ensure that the cranberries don’t dye your batter, coat them in flour before mixing them into the batter so that the color doesn’t run. This will make it so that they give a pop of color when your baked good is sliced.
No. Cranberries are naturally very tart. Since there are no other sweeteners in the cake, the sugar listed is what you need for the recipe to have a cake-like taste.
Cranberry Christmas Cake
- 3 Eggs
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Unsalted butter Softened
- 2 Tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 Cups All-purpose flour
- 12 Oz Fresh cranberries
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs with your mixer until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes.
- Add the butter and the vanilla & mix for another 2 minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined and then fold in the fresh cranberries.
- Spread in a greased 9×13 pan – or 2 9” round pans. I like to bake this in round pans, and double the recipe, to give as gifts for Christmas. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until lightly browned & a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting into small pieces, if desired.