This Cranberry Orange Cake is the perfect fall or winter dessert. I love baking with fresh cranberries and this cranberry cake is filled with fresh cranberries that pop open as the cake bakes in the oven. The orange zest is a tasty complement to the cranberries. I like the cake best in the morning with coffee or tea because it's not too sweet. It also makes a great dessert for holiday dinners and get-togethers because it's easy and quick to make. And the recipe for vanilla streusel makes enough for multiple desserts.
This recipe is from the book Rustic Fruit Desserts, a cookbook from two local Portland chefs. This book is one of my favorites because it has fruit recipes for every season. If you don't have this book or you need ideas for using fresh fruit year-round, then get this book. I love this particular dessert so much, that when I was asked to do a cooking demo for the Thanksgiving show for AM Northwest, a local morning show, I picked this one.
This dessert is perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. When you're busy making the rolls, the turkey or the dressing, a simple easy-to-make cake that can be made a day ahead is just what you need.
Making the Cranberry Cake
This cake is simple to make. I added ground ginger because I love the combination of orange and ginger; and turbinado sugar for extra crunch on top of the cake. Below are a few tips for success to ensure that your cake comes out light and fluffy every time.
Weigh the Ingredients. If you have a kitchen scale use that to weigh the flour and the sour cream. Weighing your ingredients gives you the most accurate and consistent results.
Use Ingredients at Room Temperature. The butter, eggs and sour cream should at room temperature. Room temperature literally means the average temperature of a room. The butter should be at 65-68 degrees F and the same for the sour cream. If baking in the evening, take the eggs out and place them on the counter in the morning. If baking in the morning, take the eggs out the night before. If you forget to take the eggs out, simply place them in a shallow bowl and fill the bowl with hot water until it reaches the middle of the eggs. Let the eggs sit in the water for about 20 minutes and rotate after 10 minutes.
Zest the Orange into the Sugar. When you zest a lemon or an orange the natural oils are released. Therefore instead of zesting the fruit on a board or parchment paper, zest it directly into the sugar to catch all the natural oils and maximize the flavor of the cake. Use your fingers to rub the sugar and zest together to release the oils. The sugar will turn orange and your kitchen will fill with the smell of orange.
Follow the remaining recipe directions for baking the cake. I love this cake and I hope you love it too! If you try the recipe please leave a comment at the website or on social media. You can find me on IG @bakesbybrownsugar or on Facebook at Bakes by Brown Sugar.
Cranberry Cake with Vanilla Streusel
For the Cake Pan
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup (141 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter melted
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups (248 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 2 (100 grams) large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream
- 2 cups (227 grams) cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the Pan
- Butter a 9 x 9-inch pan and line with parchment paper to overhang the sides.
For the Vanilla Streusel
- Place the flour, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Use your fingers to break up any lumps of brown sugar. Add butter and vanilla extract and use a spoon to mix together until the mixture starts to clump together into large crumbs.
- Add the butter and vanilla and with a handheld mixer combine on low speed until it starts to clump together into large crumbs.
For the Cranberry Cake
- Place the eggs in a small bowl.
- Place the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium-sized bowl and whisk by hand for 30 seconds to combine.
- Place the sugar in a large bowl. Zest the orange directly on top on the sugar and use your fingers to rub the zest and sugar together. (See Note below).
- Add the butter, ground ginger, and vanilla to the sugar-orange zest mixture. With a handheld mixer cream the butter, sugar, ginger, and vanilla together on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until each is well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on low speed to after each addition of flour and sour cream until just combined. After the last addition of flour scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix of low speed for about 20 seconds to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- The batter will be very thick at this point. Add half of the cranberries and use a spatula to fold them in. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan. Distribute the remaining 1 cup of cranberries over the cake. Sprinkle the vanilla streusel on top and then sprinkle the turbinado sugar.
- Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly golden brown and firm on top. The center of the cake should be between 200 - 203 degrees F. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes and use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan.
- To store the cake wrap it in plastic wrap. It will keep at room temperature for 3 days.