Cranberry-Orange Buttermilk Cake

While celebrating Thanksgiving with Jeremy’s family, my sister-in-law Brandyn and I got to talking about the treat that’s most ubiquitous around this time of year. The fruit cake.

These two words [fruit + cake] usually conjure up some horrid images of tooth-breaking cakes stuffed to the gills with neon green and red “fruits”. [yep, I used quotations around the word fruits because, really? can we all identify what those bright chunks and pieces are?]

cranberry orange buttermilk cake | sweet betweens

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great fruit cake recipes out there that I’d be willing to try. Alton Brown, of course, has a winner with dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries and apricots galore. But while I may give that recipe a go for Christmas 2013, this year I made a delectably sweet, tart + fruit-packed cranberry-orange buttermilk cake that should satisfy the fruitiest of your fruit cake cravings.

cranberry orange buttermilk cake | sweet betweens

Give this one a go and let me know how it turns out!



cranberry orange buttermilk cake | sweet betweens

Cranberry-Orange Buttermilk Cake

adapted from Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine‘s Cranberry Buttermilk Cake

Prep Time : 20 minutes Bake Time : 45-50 minutes Yield : 10-12 servings

Cranberry-Orange Buttermilk Cake


1 cup granulated sugar + 1-2 TBSP for sprinkling [use remaining sugar from candied ginger, to taste]

1 1/2 TBSP orange zest [from 1 large orange]

12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries

2 cups all-purpose flour + 2 TBSP for coating mix-ins

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/4-1/2 cup candied ginger, diced [to taste]


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with parchment, cut to fit. Butter and flour.

3. Combine 1 cup sugar with orange zest in the bowl of an electric/stand mixer. Mix on low for 1-2 minutes to let the oil from the citrus marinate with the sugar.

4. Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Whisk until all ingredients are incorporated.

5. Add butter to the sugar/zest mixture. Cream until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add egg then vanilla extract. Beat on medium until incorporated, then on high for 1-2 minutes until mixture returns to light and fluffy.

6. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, starting and ending with dry ingredients. [i.e. flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour].

7. Add the cranberries, white chocolate chips and ginger to the bowl that held the flour mixture. Mix with 2 TBSP flour and fold in to cake batter.’

8. Scrape batter into cake pan. Top with granulated sugar. [I used the remaining sugar from my package of candied ginger and added plain sugar to total 2 TBSP].

9. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

10. Set cake pan on a wire cooling rack for 20-30 minutes before removing cake from pan.

Orange-Vanilla Bean Glaze

juice from 1 large orange [approx. 1/2 cup]

caviar from 1 large vanilla bean

2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar [to taste]


Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add anywhere between 2-3 cups of confectioners sugar to taste – however thick you prefer your glaze.

Sugared Cranberries


12 ounces fresh cranberries

simple syrup [2 cups water + 2 cups sugar, simmered until sugar is dissolved]

3/4 cup superfine sugar [made with 3/4 cup granulated sugar pulsed in blender]


1. Make simple syrup. While mixture is simmering, clean and pick over cranberries. Place in large heat-sensitive bowl.

2. Set aside simple syrup to cool for 5-10 minutes. Pour over cranberries, cover and place in refrigerator for 8-12 hours. Stir occasionally to coat all cranberries.

3. Once cranberries have marinated in the refrigerator, remove and strain cranberries from simple syrup. Feel free to reserve syrup to use in future baking, cooking and drinking opportunities.

4. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup superfine sugar on the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet. Pour cranberries on top of sugar and shake pan to coat berries evenly. Top cranberries with remaining 1/4-1/2 superfine sugar [you may not need to use the entire 3/4 cup]. Set aside to dry for several hours.


1. Plate cake on serving platter/cake stand. Pour orange-vanilla bean glaze over top, spreading to edges. Top with candied cranberries, decorating as desired.

  1. Janie Quinn said:

    It says one large egg, but than directions say add one egg at a time. Just wondering if it needs more than one egg. thanks

    • Janie – Thanks so much for catching that and bringing it to my attention! It is indeed only one egg, so the ingredient list is correct. I’ve updated the step in the instructions to reflect that you will just add one egg, in its entirety, to the cake batter. I’m so sorry for overlooking this typo originally! Hope you do get a chance to make the cake and that it turns out as delicious as it did for me!

  2. Amy said:

    Yum!! I can’t resist the cranberry-orange combo, and those sugared cranberries are gorgeous.

    • Thanks, Amy! I’d never baked with the cranberry-orange combo before [though I’ve made many a cocktail with cranberry + orange juices!] and this turned out wonderfully.

  3. My mouth is watering! I love all of the ingredients you’ve used and the cake looks scrumptious. Thanks for sharing:)

    • Thanks, Nancy! The cake was so delicious. Will probably use it as a base for some other fruit-y cakes in the future!

  4. sarahsjoys said:

    Oh my word that looks good!! Beautiful photos too!! I actually have cranberries soaking in simple syrup about to go in the fridge. I’m using them to garnish cupcakes tomorrow. But my recipe called for medium-grain sugar. I couldn’t find anything that said “medium grain sugar” so I got small crystal looking decorating sugar. Do you think that will stick well? Seeing as how you’ve made them before I thought I would solicit your thoughts. I do have Caster sugar on hand that I could use instead. What do you think?

    • I would put the sugar in the blender for a quick spin – maybe 3 2-3 second pulses. That’s what I did to make the sugar for the berries, and it worked perfectly! Thanks for the compliments, Sarah. I’m trying to work on my photo taking/editing as that’s my biggest blogging challenge att he moment. Hope you’ll post the cranberry cupcakes on your blog! Hope all is well with you + the family! :)

    • Thanks, Amy! It was super tasty. Justifiable as a breakfast treat thanks to all of the delicious fruit, right?

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