Cranberry Orange Holiday Cake Recipe

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Amazing rustic layered cranberry orange holiday cake recipe – perfect for a Christmas wedding or a holiday party. It’s doable no matter your skill level. Originally published on the Mark & Graham Blog.



Holiday Cake Ingredients

  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (245 grams) milk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (250 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Zest of one orange

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 18 ounces (510 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup (275 grams) packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice
  • 3 1/4 cup (400 grams) powdered sugar

Sugared Cranberries Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries


Make the cranberry layer cake:

  1. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until soft and pale yellow, about 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour and milk in alternating additions, finishing with the flour. Do not overbeat.
  6. Coarsely chop the cranberries or pulse a few times in a food processor. Stir into the cake batter along with the orange zest.
  7. Divide batter into prepared cake pans and shake slightly to level. Place on middle oven rack and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in cake pan for five minutes then remove from pan and transfer to wire rack. Remove parchment paper round and let cool completely.

Make the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and beat on medium until smooth.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, brown sugar, and Grand Marnier. Beat on medium until combined. Add the powdered sugar in several additions and mix on low until incorporated.

Make the sugared cranberries:

  1. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cranberries and heat for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to wire cooling rack. Let dry for at least one hour.
  2. Roll cranberries, a few at a time, in remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until coated. Let dry for at least one hour, or overnight.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Place a cake layer on a platter that fits in the refrigerator. Cover with one-third of the cream cheese frosting and use an offset spatula or knife to level. Chill for 10 minutes. Repeat, alternating cake and frosting, finishing with the final third of the frosting. Top with sugared cranberries. Dust with an additional layer of granulated sugar immediately before serving.


If making in advance, sprinkle cranberries with additional sugar immediately before serving.

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