Cranberry Orange Spice Cake is made with a fresh cranberries, oranges, and a has a delicious cream cheese frosting. Sugared cranberries top this beautiful and easy to make cake that’s perfect for the holidays.
This cranberry cake recipe is the perfect combination of slightly tart and sweet. Here, fresh cranberries and oranges are the star and play the perfect role in this holiday classic.
Cranberry Orange Spice Cake is a great dessert to have on hand for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or really anytime you have access to fresh cranberries. Or, if you have cranberries in the freezer, this cake is the perfect reason to pull them out.
This delicious cakes gets topped off with a simple cream cheese frosting that’s flavored with orange zest and orange juice. Frosting is a breeze for this cake. Go for the “naked” look and keep the decorating simple.
Lastly, top this cake off with beautiful sugared cranberries. This is an optional step, but adds a gorgeous effect to the cake. Plus, they are fun to eat!
Try this Cranberry Orange Spice Cake for your next get together. Read below for my best tips and tricks for this delicious recipe.
Cranberry Orange Spice Cake Recipe
This cake comes together in minutes and stays moist for days! To start, you will need two 9-inch cake pans (8-inch work too, just bake a bit longer). Coat the cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment rounds.
Firstly, whisk together the dry ingredients. Here, I use a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg to give the cake a warming flavor. These spices really bring out the flavors of the cake and gives it extra depth.
Secondly, cream together the room temperature butter and sugar. For this I like to use my handheld mixer, but you could use a stand up mixer as well. Next, add the eggs, vanilla, milk, orange juice, and zest. Mix to combine then add in the dry ingredients and cranberries.
- Also, before adding the cranberries to the batter, it’s a good idea to toss them in about a teaspoon of flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of the pans.
- This recipe calls for orange zest and/or juice in every step. In total, you will need two large oranges to make this recipe. I like to start by zesting both oranges and then juicing them. That way, they are ready to go when I need them. For the oranges, I always use a microplane to remove the zest, then move on to a hand juicer to get the juice out.
Bake and cool; cake freezing options
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Bake slightly longer if using 8-inch cake pans. Cool completely before frosting.
You can make the cake layers up to a month in advance and freeze them in an airtight container. First, wrap the cake rounds in parchment, then again in plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container, like a ziplock bag, and keep in a place in the freezer will they will be undisturbed.
When ready to frost, just remove and let sit at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
This simple and delicious orange cream cheese frosting is the perfect way to top off your Cranberry Orange Spice Cake. You can make the frosting a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to use.
Firstly, don’t be deterred by the “orange” in this frosting title. Really it is just orange-scented frosting, meaning that the orange flavor plays a small role. This is a traditional cream cheese frosting, with only two tablespoons or orange juice and some zest added for flavor.
The key to making this smooth frosting is to start with room temperature butter and cream cheese. Beat these together and add in the powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest.
I use a similar recipe frosting recipe for my Limoncello Ricotta Cake, just switching up the flavors. This recipe yields a perfect frosting consistency every time and is always a hit with guests.
Frosting the Cranberry Orange Spice Cake
My go-to technique for frosting cakes is creating a “naked” cake. What this means is that you scrape off some of the frosting on the sides of the cake to showcase the layers. I find that this simple method of frosting a cake gives a more relaxed and rustic vibe.
Firstly, place the bottom layer of your cooled cake on a cake turntable. You can use a cake pedestal for this as well. Apply about a cup of icing to the top and spread around.
Next, add the second layer of cooled cake on top.
Scoop the remaining frosting on the top of the cake and use a spatula to spread around the top and sides of the cake. Lastly, use a bench scraper to scrape the sides of the cake while rotating the cake on the turntable.
Transfer any remaining frosting to the top of the cake while using a butter knife to create a swirl effect. This simple way of frosting a cake is one of my favorites! I use the same technique with my Apple Spice Cake, another delicious holiday dessert.
Use two spatulas to carefully transfer the cake to your cake pedestal or serving plate.
Sugared Cranberry Topping
The final and optional step for this recipe is to make a sugared cranberry topping. While this may appear daunting, it is actually a simple process and can be done while the cake cools.
Firstly, you need to make a simple syrup. Simply bring equal amounts of sugar and water to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and shut off the heat. Add in the cranberries and stir to coat with the simple syrup.
Next, remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon to a cooling rack or plate for about 5 to 10 minutes. Working in small batches, toss the cranberries in a mixture of sugar and orange zest.
Use the sugared cranberries to decorate the top of the Cranberry Orange Spice Cake. You can spread them evenly overtop, or gather them the center of the cake.
You can make this entire cake and refrigerate for up to three days in advance. So, be sure to give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!
Cranberry Orange Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- two 9-inch cake pans
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup milk (whole or 2%)
- ½ cup fresh orange juice (from one large orange)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest (from one large orange)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup whole cranberries (tossed in a teaspoon of flour)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese (room temperature)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ cup sugar, divided
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup whole cranberries
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cake pans with cooking spray and line bottom of pans with parchment; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl or stand up mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for two minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, milk, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Pour in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again.
- Toss the cranberries with one teaspoon of flour then fold into the cake batter.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans, using a kitchen scale if possible. Bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cool. Prepare the frosting and sugared cranberries while the cakes cool.
- To make the frosting, in a large bowl cream together the butter and cream cheese using a handheld mixer on medium speed for two minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest, and continue mixing on low speed until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and mix again.
- To make the sugared cranberry topping, in a small saucepan combine ¼ cup of sugar and water. Bring to a low simmer just until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and stir in the cranberries. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cranberries to a wire rack. In a small bowl combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar and orange zest. Working in small batches, toss the cranberries in the sugar. Shake off excess sugar and set aside.
- To frost, place one layer of the cooled cake on pedestal or cake plate and spread on about a cup of frosting. Place on the top layer of the cake and spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Decorate with sugared cranberries.