Tart cranberries, sweet spiced cake, this Cranberry Spice Cake is an absolutely perfect cake that takes very little effort to make. There’s no icing, no topping, nothing else is required. This is one of the easiest cakes you will ever make!
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The Winter Spice Cranberry Cake is inspired by our much beloved Cranberry Christmas Cake. That cake has become one of the most popular recipes on this website, definitely a reader favorite.
I’ve played with countless variations of the Cranberry Cake over the years and this version with warm spices has been a big hit. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices and it is front and center in this version of our favorite holiday dessert.
When The Spice Hunter reached out to me and asked if I’d create a holiday recipe featuring their holiday spices, I jumped at the chance.
These spices are fantastic, they’re incredibly fragrant and they added the perfect flavors to this cake.
For what it’s worth, if you haven’t yet tried grinding fresh nutmeg, you’re missing out and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The difference is HUGE.
My sister Jenny introduced me to the awesomeness of freshly ground nutmeg more years ago than I can remember and I’ve owed her for that ever since.
You will want to use fresh, raw cranberries for this recipe. They will soften and burst as the cake bakes. Yes, fresh cranberries are tart. There is a good bit of sugar in this recipe and it balances the tartness of the cranberries.
To answer the question before it can be asked, yes, you can use frozen cranberries. I buy multiple bags of fresh cranberries every year when they start appearing in the stores.
Just toss the cranberries straight into the freezer to have them on hand through the year. I use frozen cranberries most of the time when I make this cake.
Just a heads up, 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.
This is a very thick batter that will resemble cookie dough when it has finished mixing. You will need to press it into the pan to spread it out. See the photos for an illustration.
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. When the batter has been beaten long enough, it should stream off the beater like a ribbon.
Adding nuts to this recipe works nicely if you’d like a bit of crunch. I’ve made this cake with orange zest as well. The orange flavor pairs nicely with the tart cranberries, but be aware that it makes the cake even tarter.
My kids loved this cake with orange zest while I preferred it without. Both cakes are delicious though. The gluten-free substitution for this recipe is listed in the notes below the ingredient list.
This Cranberry Coffee Cake over at 365 Days of Baking & More is a recipe from my new cookbook and you’re going to love it. These Nutty Oatmeal Cranberry Bars by She Wears Many Hats also need to be on my baking list this year.
Cranberry Spice Cake Recipe
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step.
- This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Add the butter, vanilla, and orange extract or zest (if desired); mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour and all spices until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.
- Spread in a buttered 9×13 pan. (This pan is my favorite!) Bake for 44-50 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into small slices.
Store Cake At Room Temperature
I store this cake at room temperature, either uncovered or very loosely covered. This is a moist cake and the crust will soften a great deal if it is stored airtight.
The cake will still be tasty, but it won’t be the same the next day if it’s kept airtight. If you freeze this cake, thaw it uncovered at room temperature if possible.
Winter Spice Cranberry Cake
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- Optional: 1 tsp orange extract or 1 1/2 tbsp finely minced fresh orange zest
- 1 teaspoon The Spice Hunter Vanilla Extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour see note below for gluten-free alternative
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp The Spice Hunter Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon The Spice Hunter Whole Nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon The Spice Hunter Ground Cloves
- ½ tsp The Spice Hunter Ground Cardamom
- 12 oz fresh cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar and all spices until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step.
- This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Add the butter, vanilla, and orange extract (if desired); mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.
- Spread in a buttered 9x13 pan. (This pan is my favorite!) Bake for 44-50 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into small slices. Enjoy!
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Disclosure: I’ve partnered with The Spice Hunter to share this recipe with you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Barefeet In The Kitchen possible. Find all locations where The Spice Hunter products are sold HERE. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.