This Cranberry Christmas Cake is one of those recipes that is an instant favorite every single time someone new tastes it. A few years ago, my friend Valerie made this cake to share with some friends. The moment I tasted it, I asked her if she would share the recipe. Tart cranberries, sweet buttery cake, and a fantastic texture all combined to basically beg me to eat another piece.
This is an absolutely perfect cake that takes very little effort to make. No icing, no topping, nothing else is necessary at all. It was reminiscent to me of a coffee cake in texture but much lighter than the typical heavy version.
This might be the only cake I’ve ever tasted that basically screams holidays to me. It is pure heaven to eat. I made nine different desserts for a Thanksgiving event the first year I made this cake and this was my absolute favorite, by far. That hasn’t changed in the 5 or more years since we first tried this cake. While I have no problem sending almost all other leftover sweets home with friends and family, I always saved a few small pieces of this once just for myself.
I’ve learned to stock up on cranberries each year. That way I will always have them in my freezer and we’ll be able to enjoy this cake throughout the year. You’ll be wishing you had a few bags stashed in the freezer as well, just as soon as you take the first bite of this Cranberry Christmas Cake!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Yes, you will use fresh, raw cranberries for this recipe. They will soften and burst as the cake bakes. There is a good bit of sugar in this recipe and it balances the tartness of the cranberries.
Yes, you can use frozen cranberries. I buy multiple bags of fresh cranberries every year when they start appearing in the stores. Just toss them straight into the freezer to have them on hand through the year. I use frozen cranberries almost every time I make this cake. However, the dough will “freeze” up a bit and become even thicker and it will be somewhat more difficult to stir in the cranberries. I find it easiest to let the frozen berries thaw on the counter for a little while as I’m beginning to prepare the cake.
There is no baking soda or baking powder needed in this recipe. The extended beating time for the eggs provides the necessary leavening for the cake. Do not shorten or skip the beating process.
If you read through the comments, you’ll see countless variations that I’ve made and other readers have made for this recipe. Blueberries swap nicely for the cranberries. Adding nuts into the recipe works too. The additional of orange zest, orange extract, or almond extract works nicely as well. The gluten free substitution is listed in the recipe notes.
The cake can be made in a variety of different cake pans. It can also be made into cupcakes and mini loaves. Watch the baking time and adjust as needed.
There is no glaze on this cake. The crust forms as the cake bakes and winds up looking as pictured in the photos.
Kitchen Tip: I use this pan every time I make this cake. The lid for it is my favorite thing!
Here are some more cranberry recipes you might like:
Cranberry Pistachio Snack Mix by Foodie with Family
Nantucket Christmas Cranberry Pie by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Cranberry Rolls with Orange Icing by The Noshery
Cranberry Ginger Sugar Cookies by 365 Days of Baking
Cranberry Apple Tart by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread by Love from the Oven