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A Cranberry Christmas Cake on a cake stand
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5 from 8 votes

Cranberry Christmas Cake

A fabulously festive Cranberry Christmas Cake made with tart cranberries and bright orange zest in a moist sour cream batter.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Cake, Dessert, Holiday
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, cranberry
Servings: 10
Calories: 952kcal
Author: Tricia


For the cake:

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (170g)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300g)
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 ½ cup cake flour (292g)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream (8oz)
  • ½ cup milk (4oz)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice, strained of seeds and pulp (2oz)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries (145g)
  • ¼ cup simple syrup for brushing on baked layers, reserved from the sugared cranberries

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (226g)
  • 24 ounces powdered sugar, about 6 cups
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For garnish:

  • Sugared cranberries
  • Rosemary sprigs


To prepare the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Blend again just until combined.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate small bowl whisk together the sour cream, milk, vanilla and orange juice. Set aside.
  • Add ½ of the sour cream mixture to the butter sugar mixture and blend on low until incorporated. Next add ½ of the flour mixture and mix on low until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the remaining sour cream and then all the remaining flour. Blend on low just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula. Using a spatula, gently fold the zest and cranberries into the batter. Do not beat!
  • Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. Tap the pans firmly on the countertop to release any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Do not over bake!!! Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting:

  • Combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix on low until smooth and creamy. Add a tablespoon of milk or cream as needed for desired consistency.

To assemble the cake:

  • If desired trim the cake layers to create a flat surface. Brush each layer with the reserved simple syrup.
  • Place one layer on a cake stand or plate. Spread ⅓ of the frosting on top. Repeat with another layer of cake then frost the top and sides as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Garnish with sugared cranberries.


  • This cake can be baked into 3 (8-inch) layers. Reduce baking time to 18 to 20 minutes.
  • The cake is also good baked in a 13x9-inch pan. Omit adding the cranberries to the batter but instead sprinkle on top before baking. You can also add a hefty layer of coarse sugar over the cranberries and skip the frosting.
  • Cake layers can be baked a day in advance. Cool completely, then cover lightly and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  • Store the frosted cake in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature 30-minutes before serving.
  • For clean slices run a large thin knife under hot water then carefully dry. Repeat between slices.
  • The frosted cake can also be frozen. Cut into individual slices and layer between wax or parchment paper. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. When multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.


Calories: 952kcal | Carbohydrates: 132g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 155mg | Sodium: 489mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 106g | Vitamin A: 1517IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 1mg