This sugared cranberry cake comes together in just 15 minutes and can be served right from its baking pan. It has an incredible texture (so plush and moist!) and is so festive for the holidays! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Christmas Cranberry Cake
If you are looking for a Christmas cake without any peppermint or gingerbread, you’re going to want to check out this cranberry cake! It’s flavored with pops of tart cranberries and a splash of both almond and vanilla extract. It’s festive, but also fresh and so unique!
This recipe is based off my sour cream pound cake, but it’s scaled down to fit in a 9×13 pan. It’s a denser cake that melts in your mouth with a tender, plush crumb. Paired with the moist berries, this cake base contrasts so nicely with the slightly crisp sprinkled sugar topping.
Why you’ll love it:
- Includes everything we love about sheet cakes: no dividing the batter, no layering, no fancy decorating. And you can serve it right from the pan!
- The sparkly sugar topping is reminiscent of sugared cranberries, which I absolutely love. It adds texture and sweetness, which saves us from having to make a frosting or glaze.
- Incredible cake crumb: it’s so tender, plush, and perfectly dense.
- Festive flair without any peppermint or gingerbread (which you might be sick of by now!).
The textures, flavor, ease, and overall presentation on this cake are simply 10/10 for me, and hopefully you too!
What You Need
I wanted to keep this cranberry cake super simple, so we won’t be needing to many ingredients today. Here are the important ones!
- Butter. ⅔ cup may sound like a strange measurement for butter, but your butter wrapper should have markings on it to help you get there (it’s 10 and ⅔ tablespoons or 150g).
- Eggs. We’ll use four total eggs, but we will be separating them and whipping the egg whites separately (just like in my olive oil cake!). I know, I know–I said this cake was simple. I promise this is as complicated as it gets, and it’s totally worth the extra step. This is what creates the lovely plush, melt-in-your mouth cake texture.
- Sour cream. Full-fat sour cream adds depth of flavor (but doesn’t make the cake taste like sour cream!) and moisture to our cranberry cake. Full-fat, plain greek yogurt will work too.
- Cranberries. Stick with fresh cranberries and make sure to inspect, rinse, and dry them before adding them to the batter. I include instructions for using frozen cranberries in the FAQ section below; I do not recommend using dried cranberries here.
- Almond and vanilla extract. This pairing adds a fresh, bright flavor to our cranberry cake.
SAM’S TIP: Place your egg whites in a separate clean, dry, and grease-free mixing bowl and use clean, dry, grease-free utensils when handling them. Even a tiny bit of grease (or egg yolk!) could prevent them from mixing properly, so it’s very important to be diligent about this!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Cranberry Cake
- Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Stir in the egg yolks and extracts, placing the whites in a separate clean, dry, and grease-free bowl.
- Add the sour cream to the wet ingredients and stir well until everything is combined.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the dry ingredients until combined. I do this in 3 or 4 parts.
- Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate clean, dry, grease-free bowl. When they are ready, they will be billowy, thick, and hold their shape.
- Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter with a spatula, folding until just combined.
- Add the cranberries and continue folding until the cranberries are evenly incorporated and the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into a parchment lined or greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle granulated sugar overtop, then bake for 30-35 minutes at 350F.
SAM’S TIP: Don’t over-mix your batter, or you could end up with a too dense cranberry cake. Stir together the wet and dry ingredients in a few parts until just combined, then fold in your egg whites and cranberries with a spatula.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! If you’d like to turn this cake into a cranberry orange cake, you can add a few tablespoons of orange zest to the batter (I’d add it with the butter and sugar, and I recommend having 3-4 oranges on hand). If you’d like so see an actual cranberry orange cake recipe, let me know in the comments below!
Yes! No need to thaw them first; just add them right to the batter from frozen.
I recommend tightly wrapping it with plastic wrap first (either in the pan or after you’ve removed it) and storing for no more than a few months. You can let it sit at room temperature to thaw.
I’ve got another festive cake recipe coming for you next week! Any guesses on the flavor?
- ⅔ cup (150 g) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs whites and yolks divided
- ¾ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup (150 g) sour cream
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 2 cups (190 g) fresh cranberries rinsed, picked through, and dried
- 1 Tablespoons granulated sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease a 13×9 baking pan. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until well creamed.⅔ cup (150 g) unsalted butter, 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- Add egg yolks (place the whites in a separate, clean, dry, dish) and extracts and stir well.4 large eggs, ¾ teaspoon almond extract, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Stir in sour cream until well combined.⅔ cup (150 g) sour cream
- In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, ⅛ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon table salt
- Gradually (in 3 or 4 parts) add flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing just enough to completely combine ingredients after each addition.
- To another medium sized, clean, dry, and grease-free bowl, pour egg whites and use an electric mixer to beat until you reach stiff peaks. Add to your batter and use a spatula to gently fold egg whites into the batter.
- Add the cranberries and fold gently into the batter until well distributed. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan.2 cups (190 g) fresh cranberries
- Sprinkle additional granulated sugar evenly over cake and transfer to center rack of 350F (175C) preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.1 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- Allow to cool in pan before serving.
StoringCover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. This recipe may also be tightly wrapped and frozen for several months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.