Winter Spice Cranberry Cake

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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.

Winter Spice Cranberry Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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.

The Spice Hunter spices add so many flavor to this recipe! get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

I used The Spice Hunter’s Ground Cinnamon, Whole Nutmeg, Ground Cloves, and Ground Cardamom in this recipe, along with their Pure Vanilla Extract.

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.

Cranberry Spice Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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.

Spiced Cranberry Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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.

Spice Cake with Cranberries - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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.

Cranberry Spice Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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.

Cranberry Spice Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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.

For more awesome holiday desserts, check out all of our cakes, cookies, and candies in the dessert recipe index. If you need a gluten-free treat, all of those recipes are here for you too.

For the cranberry lovers, the Nantucket Christmas Pie and Cranberry Pecan Brownies are sure wins. And this Cranberry Pepper Jam is just what your next cheeseboard needs to make it perfect.

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 Cake with Winter Spices - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Cranberry Spice Cake Recipe

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Spiced Cranberry Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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Winter Spiced Cranberry Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Winter Spice Cranberry Cake

5 from 2 votes
Tart cranberries, sweet spiced cake, this Cranberry Spice Cake 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!
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 12 mins
Cook Time: 44 mins
Total Time: 56 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

Gluten-Free Substitution: 1 1/4 cup brown rice flour + 1/2 cup potato starch + 1/4 cup tapioca starch + 1 teaspoon xanthan gum may be substituted for the amount of all-purpose flour listed in the ingredients above.

Nutrition

Calories: 255.37kcal · Carbohydrates: 40.57g · Protein: 2.84g · Fat: 9.6g · Saturated Fat: 5.75g · Cholesterol: 53.57mg · Sodium: 128.74mg · Potassium: 67.02mg · Fiber: 1.4g · Sugar: 26.75g · Vitamin A: 323.22IU · Vitamin C: 2.83mg · Calcium: 22.63mg · Iron: 1.02mg
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Winter Spice Cranberry Cake - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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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.

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. LInda says

    The recipe ingredients do not list orange extract but the directions do. How much orange extract did you add. Was it in place of the vanilla?

    • Mary Younkin says

      Whoops! Sorry about that. I’ve corrected the ingredients in the recipe card. I make it both ways, and the orange extract or zest is in addition to everything else. You still will want to add the vanilla, Linda. Happy baking!

  2. Linda says

    This recipe is great! Enjoyed it. Do you think this recipe could be made into cookies? If yes, would I need to make any adjustments other than baking time. Thanks so much for so many great recipes.

  3. Bernice says

    Hi Mary”
    I did make the Cranberry cake. I used the recipe and follow the instructions. The only problem I had is that the cake still seemed dry . I used robin hood flour. I mix the sugar and eggs first .
    Set aside . I am not the best when it comes to baking but would love to learn to be better.
    If you can help me on this would really appreciated help. Thank you for reading my email.
    Bernice Preston

    • Mary Younkin says

      This cake should not be at all dry, Bernice. Did you scoop and level your flour with a knife? Or maybe scoop and shake it to even it out? I am guessing that there might have been a little too much flour when you made it.

  4. Ursula says

    Terrific recipe. I used Spelt flour, Splenda and brown coconut sugar instead. We have a Diabetic in the family, so I have substituted Spelt flour for all the food that calls for all purpose flour. The diabetic results are truly exciting, no rise at all in the blood sugar reading, we are truly happy to be able to eat these wonderful goodies with a few changes. Thank you again for all your recipes!