This festive Christmas Cranberry Cake is what you need this holiday season! This cake features three layers of moist, soft cake and each layer is covered with luscious cranberry curd. The cake is frosted with white chocolate cream cheese frosting and topped with sugared cranberries!
While this stunning Cranberry Christmas Cake is called a Christmas cake, it’s truly perfect to enjoy any day of the year! The moist cake is layered with homemade cranberry curd and white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Sugared cranberries make the perfect finishing touch!
Cranberries are a small, tart, deep red colored fruit. Everyone knows cranberries for cranberry sauce, but they are also amazing in desserts!
If you’re also a big cranberry fan, I urge you to make this incredibly good Orange Cranberry Pound Cake, this rustic and delicious Cranberry Almond Ricotta Cake, and these super flavorful Cranberry White Chocolate Scones!
Parts of this cake:
- Orange Vanilla Cake: This three layer cake was inspired by my delicious Lemon Lavender Blackberry Cake! It’s moist, fresh tasting and delicious!
- Cranberry Curd: I developed this cranberry curd recipe for my Cranberry Curd Tart. It is so tart and luscious and I couldn’t wait to make cranberry curd again!
- White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- Sugared Cranberries: This was my first time making sugared cranberries. They were so easy to make. The combination of sour and sweet makes them so good!
This Cranberry Christmas Cake recipe is:
- Festive! The crimson color of the cranberries couldn’t be more festive! Also, who doesn’t love the site of cranberries during the holidays!
- Delicious. This moist, delicious three layer cake layered with from scratch cranberry sauce and white chocolate cream cheese frosting and topped with sugared cranberries!
- Easy to make. This cake has several components to it yet each one is simple to make.
Below is some useful information about some of the ingredients. See the recipe card for the full list of ingredients.
- Flour: Use all purpose.
- Almond flour: This cake mainly uses all purpose flour but also calls for a little almond flour. Almond flour helps make the cake extra tender. Substitute equal parts all purpose flour for the almond flour, if desired.
- Butter: Use unsalted, room temperature butter. For room temperature butter, take butter out of the fridge at least an hour before making the cake.
- Eggs: Use large, room temperature eggs.
- Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract has the best flavor, but imitation will work too.
- Sour cream: Use whole fat sour cream. Plain whole fat yogurt also works as a substitute.
- Milk: Use whole fat milk.
- Cranberries: Use fresh or frozen cranberries for the cranberry curd. If making the optional sugared cranberries for decoration, use fresh cranberries.
- Cream cheese: Use full fat, brick style, room temperature cream cheese.
Sugared cranberries make the best decoration for this cake! They are stunning, delicious and hint at the flavor of the cranberry curd inside the cake.
Sugared cranberries are fresh cranberries that have been steeped in a hot simple syrup and coated in sugar. Once dried, sugared cranberries have the tastiest contrast of tart cranberries and sweet sugar coating.
I originally made them as a decoration, but found myself snacking them while baking this cake. I’m already planning to add some to my charcuterie board this weekend. They’d also make great gifts this time of the year too!
After making my Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Tart, I could not wait to make another fruit curd recipe! Like lemon curd, cranberry curd has that perfect balance of sweetness and tangy fresh flavor!
I used the same flavors I use to make homemade cranberry sauce: orange juice and zest, cinnamon and sugar. It turns into the most luscious, perfectly tart-sweet curd!
Step by step instructions
This cake consists of the cake layers, the cranberry curd, the cream cheese frosting and the sugared cranberries. I recommend making the sugared cranberries first followed by the cake layers, the cranberry curd and lastly the cream cheese frosting.
Step One: Make the sugared cranberries. Sugared cranberries are optional, but they do make a gorgeous decoration! To make them, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in cranberries to coat them well. Leave cranberries in the sugar syrup for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cranberries from the syrup using a slotted spoon. Place cranberries on the wire rack. Allow cranberries to dry for 1-2 hours. Roll the cranberries in the remaining sugar to coat.
Step Two: Make the cake layers. Whisk to combine dry ingredients. Set aside. Cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract and mix two more minutes on medium high speed. Use a spatula to stir in half the dry ingredients followed by the sour cream, milk and the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour evenly into greased layer pans. Bake for 26-32 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cakes out onto cooling racks. Once cooled, trim tops of cakes, if needed, for even layers. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze before frosting.
Step Three: Make the cranberry curd. Beat the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl. Heat the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, salt and cinnamon stick until the cranberries have split. Remove the cinnamon stick and puree the mixture then press it through a fine mesh sieve. Whisk about a cup of the cranberry mixture into the eggs to temper them. Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the remainder of the cranberry mixture and the butter. Stir until the curd thickens. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool.
Step Four: Make the white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Place the chopped white chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave in short twenty second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between, until white chocolate has melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes before using. In a large bowl, beat the butter and the cream cheese on medium speed until combined. Mix in the white chocolate. Turn the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt. Beat til light and fluffy Add the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time.
Step Five: Assemble the cake. Place the first layer on the cake stand. Pipe a barrier of frosting around the edge of the cake. Spread a layer of cranberry curd followed by a layer of frosting on top of the curd. Add the next cake layer and decorate the same as the first layer. Place the third layer on top. Add a dollop of the frosting on top. Use an offset spatula to frost the top of the cake and push excess frosting over the edge of the cake. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the sides. Place cake in the fridge to chill for at least thirty minutes. Once chilled, add remainder of frosting on the cake. Add some of the sugared cranberries to the top of the cake and place some around the sides to decorate, if you like!
Frequently asked questions
Cranberries are sour. The good news is that they taste amazing and add bursts of flavor when they are added to desserts!
To make perfect layers, you need nonstick cake pans. You’ll want to use layer cake pans because the sides are perfectly straight. I use three of these 6×2 inch Fat Daddio’s* layer cake pans for perfect layers.
This recipe makes three 6 inch cake layers. The batter should be enough to make two 8 or 9 inch round cake layers, one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes. You will need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size you go with.
Tips for making this cake
- Measure your flour correctly. If you dredge your measuring cup in the flour, you’ll use more flour than the recipe calls for. This will result in a dry cake. Make sure to spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level it off with a knife.
- Use full fat milk and cream cheese.
- Do not overmix cake batter. In order to make sure the cake is light and tender, mix the batter til just combined.
- Avoid overbaking. Baking time will vary slightly depending on how hot your oven runs. Test cake with a toothpick as the end of the suggested baking time approaches. If a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of your cakes, they are finished baking.
- Freeze cake layers before frosting. Freezing is optional, but I recommend it as it will help avoid getting crumbs in your frosting.
How to store this cake
This Christmas Cranberry Cake can be stored in an air tight container at at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to five days. Allow cake to come to room temperature before serving.
This three layered Christmas Cranberry Cake is all I want for my Christmas dessert! With its moist, flavorful cake layers, silky cranberry curd, white chocolate cream cheese frosting and tart-sweet sugared cranberries, this cake is a show-stopping delight!Print
This Christmas Cranberry Cake is layered with cranberry curd and white chocolate cream cheese frosting! It’s perfect for the holiday dessert!
FOR THE SUGARED CRANBERRIES
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups cranberries, fresh, washed
FOR THE CHRISTMAS CRANBERRY CAKE
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour, substitute equal parts all purpose, if desired
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream or plain whole fat yogurt, room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
FOR THE CRANBERRY CURD
- 12 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- zest of half an orange
- juice of one orange (about 2 ounces)
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
FOR THE WHITE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 2 1/4 ounces white chocolate (not white chocolate chips), chopped
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1– 2 tablespoons heavy cream (add 1 tablespoon to start and more a little at a time if needed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest, according to taste
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- pinch of salt
FOR THE SUGARED CRANBERRIES
- Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water over medium heat. Stir until until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in cranberries to coat them well. Leave cranberries in the sugar syrup for five minutes. Remove cranberries from the syrup using a slotted spoon. Place cranberries on the wire rack. Allow cranberries to dry for 1-2 hours. Roll the cranberries in the remaining sugar to coat. Place back on cooling rack to continue until you’re ready to use them.
FOR THE CHRISTMAS CRANBERRY CAKE
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 3 6″ straight edge cake pans. Line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the all purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a hand held mixer cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and orange zest and mix two more minutes on medium high speed.
- Stir in half the dry ingredients with a spatula. Stir in the sour cream (or yogurt) followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients.
- Pour batter evenly into greased layer pans. Bake for 25-32 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of each cake. Remove from oven and place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The cake should fall to the rack on its own.
- Allow cakes to cool at room temperature before trimming tops. Once cooled, use a cake leveler or a sharp bread knife to trim the tops of the cakes to make sure you have even layers. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze before frosting.
FOR THE CRANBERRY CURD
- With a fork, lightly beat the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, salt and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the cranberries have split. Remove the cinnamon stick. Use an immersion blender, blender or food processor to puree the mixture then use a spatula or the back of a large spoon to press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids. Whisk about a cup of the cranberry mixture into the eggs to temper them.
- Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the remainder of the cranberry mixture and the butter. Stir constantly with the mixture on low heat for 8-10 minutes until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
FOR THE WHITE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Place the chopped white chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave in short twenty second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between, until white chocolate has melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes before using. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and the cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and combined. Mix in the white chocolate. Turn the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt. Beat til light and fluffy Add the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE THIS CAKE
- When ready to assemble your cake, fill your pastry bag with frosting (without a tip or with a large round tip). Place the first layer on the cake stand. Pipe a barrier of white chocolate cream cheese frosting around the edge of the cake. Spread a layer of cranberry curd followed by a layer of frosting on top of the curd. (I used about 3/4 of filling. You could do half and half or 1/2 curd and 1/4 cup frosting). Add the next cake layer on top and look at it from all sides to make sure it is on evenly. Pipe a barrier of frosting around the edge of the cake. Spread another layer of cranberry curd followed by another layer of frosting on top of the curd. Place the third layer upside down to make sure that the top is as even as possible. Use a spatula to dollop the rest of the frosting on top. Use an offset spatula to frost the top of the cake and push excess frosting over the edge of the cake. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the sides. Place cake in the fridge to chill for at least thirty minutes or in the freezer for fifteen minutes. Once chilled, add remainder of frosting on cake. To create an optional watercolor look, dab small amounts of cranberry curd on the sides of the frosted cake. Use a cake scraper to scrape sides of cake to create the watercolor effect. Add some of the sugared cranberries to the top of the cake and place some around the sides to decorate if you like!
Ideally, it’s best to frost and decorate a frozen cake. I recommend wrapping your layers individually in plastic wrap and freezing them overnight or for several hours before decorating.
Keywords: cake, cranberry, cranberries, cranberry curd, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, orange, white chocolate, white chocolate cream cheese
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