Cranberry-Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream


A hit at any occasion, from birthdays to baby showers, we particularly love our Cranberry-Orange Cake at the holidays. Tender layers of cake covered in a beautiful orange buttercream and garnished with citrus and cranberries… we couldn't dream up a better ending to a Thanksgiving meal or Christmas Eve dinner if we tried.The magic starts with folding cranberries into the batter. Once baked, the contrast of tart cranberries to tender sweet layers of cake is made even better by fresh citrus notes from a beautiful orange buttercream. The fresh orange juice and zest in the frosting makes it the perfect package. If you're using frozen cranberries, don't be alarmed by little crates the berries might make in the layers. Once the cake is frosted, they'll disappear. Tossing your barriers in a little flour also helps them from sticking to the bottom of your layers and lining your pans with parchment provides a little extra insurance to prevent cake from sticking to your pans, particularly with barriers stirred into the batter.

Cranberry-Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream
Photo: Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Emily Neighbors Hall Prop Stylist: Christine Keely
Active Time:
35 mins
Additional Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
(serving size: 1 slice)


Cranberry-Orange Cake

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter, softened, plus more for pans

  • Cooking Spray

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 3 cups (about 12 3/4 oz.), plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for pans

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 1/4 cups whole buttermilk

  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh juice (from 1 large navel orange), divided 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries

Orange Buttercream

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter, softened

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh juice (from 1 large navel orange), divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 5 to 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

  • 1 (32-oz.) package powdered sugar


  • Fresh orange slices

  • Sugared cranberries


  1. Prepare the Orange-Cranberry Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease (with butter) and flour 3 (9-inch) round cake pans; line bottom of each pan with parchment paper and lightly grease parchment paper with cooking spray. Beat butter with a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

  2. Place 3 cups of the flour in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until combined. Whisk together buttermilk and orange juice in a glass measuring cup. With mixer running on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in orange zest and vanilla until just combined.

  3. Toss together cranberries and remaining 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl. Gently fold cranberries into batter. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, and, using a small offset spatula, spread in even layer. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 22 to 26 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and discard parchment paper. Cool completely on wire racks, about 1 hour.

  4. Meanwhile, prepare the Orange Buttercream: Beat butter, orange zest, and salt with a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk together vanilla, orange juice, and 5 tablespoons of the heavy cream in a small glass measuring cup. With mixer on running on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar alternately with cream mixture, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium, and beat until fluffy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. If needed, add up to 1 tablespoon cream[MG1] , 1 teaspoon at a time, and beat until desired consistency is reached.

  5. Place 1 cooled cake layer on a cake stand. Top with 1 cup of the buttercream; spread to edges. Repeat with second cake layer and 1 cup of the buttercream. Top with third cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining 2 cups buttercream, using a small offset spatula. Garnish with fresh orange slices and sugared cranberries.

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