Recipe: White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream

A classic white cake layered with cranberry filling makes for a holiday showstopper.

If you’ve ever picked up a December issue of Southern Living, you know we have a longtime thing for white cakes at Christmas, and this is one of our newest favorites to add to the lineup. This recipe features a classic white cake layered with cranberry filling, and it's wrapped in orange buttercream icing. This layer cake beautifully combines flavors and colors of the season for an unforgettable presentation.

The recipe begins with the cranberry filling because it needs at least eight hours to chill. Be sure to prep the filling a day in advance or the morning of your Christmas dinner. To start, add cherry preserves, sugar, and orange juice to a medium saucepan and stir before adding fresh cranberries. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to pop. Transfer 1 cup of the mixture to a small bowl, add more fresh cranberries, and stir. Pour the remaining saucepan mixture into a separate small bowl. Cover both small bowls and chill for eight hours.

When your filling is done chilling (see what we did there?), it’s time to make the white cake. In a large bowl, beat butter with a standing mixer and gradually add sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Add orange zest and vanilla, beat the mixture until smooth, and leave the bowl in position with the standing mixer. In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking powder, and salt together. Next, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with milk, with the mixer continuously beating. Begin and end your additions with the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, and then add the egg whites to the batter. Spread the batter into three round cake tins and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Once your layers are in the oven, all that’s left to make is the orange buttercream. All you have to do for the icing is beat butter, cream cheese, salt, powdered sugar, orange juice, vanilla, and milk with a standing mixer until it reaches the consistency you want. Now that all of your components are ready, it’s time to layer up. Start with a layer of white cake and pipe a border of buttercream around the top of the cake. Add cranberry filling in the circle’s border, and repeat. When you’ve added your top cake layer, ice the cake completely with buttercream and top it with the cranberry mixture for a festive, fresh, and beautiful finishing touch.  

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