So many cranberries, so little time. Baking with seasonal ingredients is such a great way to experiment and find new ways of using what’s available. Take cranberries. I have some frozen ones that I use for smoothies whenever the mood strikes. But having fresh cranberries is so much better. Frozen berries mean too much moisture in your baked goods. While that may not matter for a savory dish – oooh pork chops with a cranberry sauce – it makes a huge difference in say, a scone. This cranberry orange layer cake puts those fresh berries to good use.
Plus, they’re just so dang cute! When I made this cake, I wanted something fun to show off the versatility of cranberries. They are a star ingredient, but also make excellent decorations. The cranberries adorning this layer cake are coated in sugar.
If you are attending any parties this holiday season, this cranberry orange layer cake would be the perfect cake to bring. And if you’re in need of another festive cake, try the mini pumpkin bundt cakes.
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cranberry orange layer cake with orange buttercream frosting
For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups | 12.5 ounces all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 cup | 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 1/2 cups | 10.5 ounces granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temp
For the frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two 8″ springform pans with parchment and lightly spray.
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Remove 1 tablespoon of flour and toss with cranberries in a separate bowl. Set aside.
- Stir creme fraiche, milk, vanilla and orange extracts, and orange zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more. Scrape sides of bowl and add one egg at a time, scraping bowl between additions. Beat until thoroughly incorporated.
- Alternate adding flour and milk mixtures, scraping bowl between each addition to ensure batter is completely mixed. Carefully fold in cranberries.
- Divide batter between two pans, bang on the counter to remove any air bubbles, and bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5-10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
To make frosting:
- Cream butter and orange zest on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat 3-4 minutes until butter has doubled in bulk and is light and fluffy. Add orange juice, heavy cream, extracts, and salt and mix until fluffy, 2-3 more minutes.
- To assemble cake, place one layer on cake stand or cake plate and frost the top. Push frosting to edges of cake. Top with second layer and frost the top. Using a long, straight icing spatula, frost sides of cake. Hold a bench scraper flat against the cake stand and slowly scrape sides of cake.
- Decorate with sugared cranberries.
Bess Waxenfelter says
Looks so amazing!! Can’t wait to make this for a dessert competition. Silly question. How do I sugar the cranberries? Is there a trick to it?
Hi Bess! Glad you asked. I was going to post the method, but was so excited to get the recipe up. I just soaked fresh berries in a simple syrup for at least 24 hours (in fridge is good). Then strained them, and tossed them with granulated sugar. Spread them on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet to let them dry. That’s it!