The Cranberry Orange Cake is baked in a loaf pan and is hands down one of the most delicious and festive cakes you can make for the holiday season.
Not overly sweet, this cake (also called a quick bread) has an exceptional orange flavor from using the zest of a whole orange with bursts of tangy brightness from the cranberries. It's great served on its own for dessert, breakfast or a mid-day treat.
Orange: You'll need the zest and juice from the orange for this recipe. When removing the zest, be sure to remove just the o range peel and not the white pith.
Cranberries: You can use fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried) for this recipe. Be sure to coarsely chop them, so the will be more bursts of fresh, tangy bright flavor throughout the cake. It's easier to chop frozen cranberries while they are forzen, so there's no need to let them thaw.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk makes the cake especially tender and moist, and it adds a bot of tang to the flavor. Be sure to shake the buttermilk well before using.
How to make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9 -x 5-inch loaf pan.
2. The key to the great orange flavor of this cake is to start with orange sugar. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife, remove just the orange zest of one whole orange, taking care not to include the white pith which has a bitter taste. Add the peel to a food processor with 1 cup granulated sugar and process until the peel is finely ground.
3. and 4.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake at 350°F until the cake has risen, is golden brown, and a cake tester inserted near the center comes out with a just a few crumbs clinging to it, about 50 minutes. If the cake top begins to get too brown, loosely cover with a sheet of foil.
6. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cake to the rack and let it cool completely.
7. Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and orange juice, adding more juice or sugar to get desired consistency. (The glaze should be thick and spreadable.) Spread the icing over the cake. Garnish with sugared cranberries and orange zest.
How to Make Sugared Cranberries
There are several ways to make sugared cranberries, but I find this method the easiest and quickest.
Rinse the cranberries. While they are still damp, work in small batches and roll them in a small bowl of granulated sugar. Set them on a plate to dry. Store the cranberries in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
- When it comes to zesting citrus, remember this one rule: Remove just the thin, colored skin, or zest, of the fruit, leaving behind the white pith that lies underneath. The pith has a bitter taste that you simply don’t want to include.
- A good way to measure flour is to first fluff the flour with a spoon, then sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- For a smooth glaze, be sure to sift the powdered sugar before whisking it with the juice.
How to store the cake
Store the cake wrapped airtight at room temperature for up to 4 days. You can also freeze the unglazed cake, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and ice before serving.
Yes, you can make muffins using the same batter. Simply spoon the batter into a paper-lined standard muffin pan., filling each two-thirds full. Bake at 375ºF until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.
Yes, this cake is terrific made with fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries. If you are using either one of these berries, there's no need to coarsely chop them.
More desserts to try
Comments and ratings
If you’ve tried this Cranberry Orange Cake or any other recipes on our site, please leave a comment and rating below. We love hearing from you!
Cranberry Orange Cake
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 medium navel orange
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 to 3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
- Sugared cranberries, for garnish (optional)
- Orange zest, for garniah (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
- Using a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife, remove the zest from the orange. taking care to remove just the orange part not the white pit which has a bitter taste.
- Combine the orange zest and sugar in a food processor and pulse until zest is finley ground.
- Transfer the sugar mixture to a large bowl and add the butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light in color, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Beat for another 2 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the baking powder, salt, and the the flour, alternately with the buttermilk, beating just until blended.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cranberries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake until fully risen and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it, about 50 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely.
- Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar with enough orange juice to make a thick glaze. The glaze should be thick and barely pourable. Spread the glaze over the cooled bread. Top with orange zest and sugared cranberries.