A commonly used holiday berry is turned into a sweet snacking cake anytime with this Cranberry Cake with Cranberry Frosting!
I love cranberries and I often freeze them so I can make delicious dishes with them long after the season is over. And this recipe was created with that in mind.
Cranberries freeze well just place them in a bag or container in the freezer, they’ll stay well for a year, meaning you can then enjoy cranberries and their delicious recipes all year long. This cake can be made with fresh cranberries if you have them.
You could call this Christmas cake… but it’s actually perfect anytime, now that you have a good reason to keep cranberries in the freezer and know how easy it is to freeze cranberries.
I’ve often wondered who was the first one to use cranberries in a recipe. Whoever it was, I’m so glad they did!
Like rhubarb, cranberries have a very tart flavor but they make the best sweet treats from Cranberry Sauce to Cranberry-Banana Muffins. And they even have a place in savory foods as well. My Cranberry Turkey Meatballs and Cranberry Pork Loin are always a hit, and cranberries make a great accompaniment to these Cranberry Jalapeno Brussel Sprouts. They bring a tart sweetness to the roasted Brussels which is balanced by the kick the jalapeno brings! It’s a great way to freshen up an old dish.
Whatever your craving, I’m sure to have a recipe for it! Peruse my recipe index for just the right recipe.
On to the cake…
This cake has a great texture and that’s all thanks to the buttermilk – it makes this cake so moist and amazing! You’ll be tempted to skimp on this ingredient, don’t! It adds so much flavor. And for an extra zing, you can add fresh lemon! More about this in my notes as I walk you through the process!
And of course, the pink color in this cake is all thanks to the cranberries themselves. It adds such elegance to this dessert – it’s so pretty in pink! And you have the option of using fresh, or frozen cranberries in both the cake and the frosting. I use frozen as I almost always have them on hand so I can enjoy winter flavors any time of the year!
You’ll be cooking them down for the frosting, and this step can easily be done ahead of time and stored in your fridge until you’re ready for them. And it’s so easy to do, I’ll walk you through it!
Okay, it’s time to get to the good stuff….Let’s eat cake!
This cranberry cake is sure to become your new favorite:
We’ll begin by preheating our oven to 350°.
Prepare two 8″ round cake pans with a baking spray or shortening and flour.
Now we’ll prepare the cranberry puree for the frosting first, as it’ll need to cool completely. Bring the cranberries and water to a boil, then simmer on medium-low until thick and the liquid has evaporated. It’ll be thick.
Next, you’ll strain your cranberries by using a fine mesh strainer and pressing the pulp with the back of your spoon, extracting all that yummy cranberry juice!
Allow the cake to cool completely.
Making the cake
In the bowl of a mixer beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in the vanilla and 1 egg at a time mixing on low to combine each.
Next, we’ll begin adding our dry ingredients ( flour with baking powder and salt). Do this gradually, and at a low speed to avoid the flour coming out of the mixing bowl.
Continuing on low, pour in the buttermilk to combine everything. Then raise the speed to mix on medium to medium-high until completely combined and smooth.
A Note: If you’d like to add a little lemon, now is the time. Simply reduce your buttermilk by two tablespoons and add in two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
Now stir in cranberries and watch a little color changing magic as the batter goes from a creamy color to a light pink.
Pour the batter into the cake pans.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
In the bowl of a mixer beat butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and cream alternately on low and mix to combine. Once mixed, beat on high until fluffy.
Next, add in the cranberry puree and mix to blend, scraping down the sides so everything combines well.
Spread frosting on the cake with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to create swirls.
To decorate the top of the cake
I like to roll the cranberries in sugar, and then add some fresh mint leaves. I then take my fingers and wet them. I dip my fingers in sugar and then rub my fingers over the cake. This creates little sugar crystals that look like fresh snow! It’s such a fun way to decorate. Be careful if you bite into the cranberries on top, they tend to be really tart, but they look so pretty!
Would you recommend using baking strips?
Yes, anytime I am baking a cake, I use bakers strips. They make the cake come out nice and even, eliminating a domed top which can make it hard to stack your layers.
- Baking Strips help the cake bake smooth on top not domed ensuring the cake is the same thickness and the outer edge will not be overcooked and the center of the cake will not be higher than the edges when cooled.
- I like these baking pans for a great evenly baked cake with a nickel thick pan that heats evenly for an evenly baked cake
If I don’t have buttermilk what should I do?
You can use whole milk and vinegar or lemon juice. For every cup of buttermilk, start with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice and add enough milk to make a cup. Let it sit until thick, then add to cake when buttermilk is requested.
I only have enough cranberries to make the cake, what other frosting can I make?
I have loads of frosting ideas! A classic cream cheese frosting would be delicious on this, you could add a little food coloring if desired to add the pink hue you would get naturally from the cranberries. I also have loads of decorating tips as well! Like how to pipe mini roses!
- 3/4 cup butter (12 tablespoons), room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup cranberries
- 1 cup cranberries
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350
- Prepare 2 8" round cake pans with a baking spray or shortening and butter.
- Prepare the cranberry puree first for the frosting as it'll need to cool completely.
- Bring the cranberries and water to a boil, then simmer on medium-low until thick and the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick.
- Press with the back of a spoon through a fine strainer, allow this to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a mixer beat butter with sugar.
- add in vanilla and 1 egg at a time mixing on low to combine each.
- Add in flour with baking powder and salt.
- On low start mixing and pour in the buttermilk to combine everything, then raise the speed to mix on medium to medium-high until completely combined and smooth.
- Stir in cranberries.
- Pour batter into cake pans.
- Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a mixer beat butter until smooth add in powdered sugar and cream and mix to combine on high until fluffy, then add in the cranberry puree and mix to blend, scrape down the sides so everything combines well.
- Spread frosting on the cake with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to create swirls.
- Top cake with sugar-coated cranberry and fresh mint if desired.
*if you want to know why the cakes are not flush, they shifted as I’m pretty impatient and didn’t allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting and the sun was setting and I just want to get the photos before dark. Winter lighting makes it hard to fit everything in sometimes. Luckily I placed the cake in the fridge and it firmed right back up and tasted amazing!