quick cranberry cake

November 1, 2010 § 40 Comments

I went on a bit of a baking bender last weekend. Possibly making up for a dry spell, I churned out cookies, brownies, bread, and a cranberry cake. It all sounds very impressive until I admit that I haven’t actually cooked dinner in almost two weeks. It’s surprising how far sandwiches and eating out will take you, but at this point I’m pretty much relying on the cranberry cake to count as my ‘fruits and vegetables’ serving. Cranberries are practically a vegetable, right?

If you’re too busy to cook though, this cake is both quick and totally more worth the effort than real food (although I do recommend occasionally eating vegetables). I made it because I saw cranberries at the store for the first time this year and fell over myself in excitement to get them, narrowly avoiding taking out the nearby shoppers in my haste.

I love baked goods with cranberries, and this cake is a perfect example of why: it’s moist and dense and sweet, but the tartness of the cranberries in every bite balances it all out. It’s also seriously easy: one bowl, 10 minutes of mixing, then pop it in the oven. Out comes a cake that, despite its simplicity, and the fact that there are several other desserts sharing its spotlight, disappears surprisingly quickly.


Cranberry Cake – adapted from Vanilla Garlic

    3 eggs
    2 cups sugar
    3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into chunks
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons whole milk
    2 cups flour
    2 1/2 cups cranberries (12 ounce bag)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 pan or a 10-inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar for 5-7 minutes, until eggs have increased in volume and stream into ribbons when you lift the beaters. Add butter and vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Beat in milk and salt.

Stir in flour, then fold in cranberries. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Bake for approximately an hour, until a tester comes out clean (but there might be cranberry juices on it). Cool on a wire rack. If using springform, run a knife around the cake and then unmold.


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§ 40 Responses to quick cranberry cake

  • Ali says:


  • El says:

    Such a great use for cranberries. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Amanda says:

    That looks wonderful and easy to make. This would be such a pretty dessert for the holidays. I’ll be saving this one!

  • delicious colourful cake

  • Lynn says:

    Cranberries can totally count as a vegetable! I’d eat this cake for breakfast lunch and dinner.

  • Sharon says:

    mmmm…..looks soooo tempting!!

  • Dustin Baier says:

    You have a cute site. You should post your recipes over at dishfolio.com

  • Gina says:

    I made this cake and have a few questions. The top of the cake was hard (not so much in a bad way, but a light crunch) should that have happened? If not, how do I fix it?

    Also – the cake itself had a really great taste, nice and light but when you get to a cranberry its tart as all get up and almost ruins it. how would you fix that?

  • Laura says:

    Hi Gina,

    my cake had a crispy top and I liked it that way – if you’d prefer it softer you can try baking at a lower temperature. Cranberries definitely are tart, and I really enjoy the tart-sweet contrast, but if it’s too much for you then I’d recommend making a cake with a cranberry swirl instead. If you cook the cranberries into a thick sauce with some sugar and orange juice, and then swirl it into a cake batter, it’ll make them less tart than when they’re in there on their own. Or you could just substitute a berry that you like better, such as blueberries or raspberries. Hope that helps!

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for that response. I had the same issue with making the cake with the hard top. I don’t mind the tartness of the berries. I love cranberries. You could use also chop the berries up so you don’t get that super tartness.


  • Kim says:

    I am eating this cake right now. Warm from the oven.
    It is SO good!
    The cake is sweet, the cranberries are tart and I love the little bit of crunch I get from the crust, or the edge piece.
    I’ll be keeping this recipe and making this cake again and again.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Elaine Shanks says:

    I made this for a family dinner and it was a huge hit! I have another one in the oven, and this time I used mixed berries. I know this one will taste good too, but we all really enjoyed the cranberry one! I served it with a warm butterscotch sauce and whipped cream. Delicious!

  • Sheryl Hogue says:

    Everyone loved this recipe.
    There was a comment made about the crunchy brown top. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. If you notice in the picture,there seems to be a thin icing on the cake. THat’s yummy,too. It’s a thin powdered sugar mixture made of the p. sugar and water. Not only is it good but serves to somewhat soften the crust.

  • I tried this cake tonight and it was a huge hit! It’s delicious! I used buttermilk instead of whole milk and sprinkled the top with a bit of sugar before baking. It’s sweet, tart, & has an almost pudding-like denseness. My husband ate almost half the cake and wants me to make another one tomorrow. Thanks, Laura!

  • Julie says:

    Today is the second time in a week I’m making this. I hate cake. I love this cake. My husband can’t stay out of it, I can’t stay out of it…

    And now my grocery store is no longer selling fresh cranberries.


    Thank you for posting this.

  • AW Mom says:

    I made this cake. It was great! I added a light sprinkling of a brown sugar/butter/cinnamon mixture on top before baking. My husband and I really liked the crisp sweet touch. (…also cut the butter to 1 stick (1/2 cup) and beat the eggs/sugar about 4 minutes. Thanks for the recipe!

  • hannelore gibbons says:

    can you use dried cranberries instead of fresh once?

  • Renato Valensky says:

    So easy to make and so good. And I’m a guy!

  • Martie Hughes says:

    I needed a quick dessert for a last-minute pot luck dinner.Surfed the internet and found this. It is just delicious. Added a lemon glaze/frosting to make it a bit more festive. And yes, it was gone in a nanosecond. Thanks. This will probably become one of my signature desserts. Next time … blueberries.

  • Melanie says:

    This is by far my favorite Pinterest find EVER! (And I have tried a lot of recipes from Pinterest) This cake is so easy and so delicious. I take it to all the functions I need to bring dessert for and everyone loves it, even those who swear they don’t like cranberries! I have also tried it with blueberries and it was very good. Thank you so much for posting this.

  • Paula says:


  • Darrell says:

    I made this cake today, and it tasted very good. The 2 cups of sugar in the batter balances the cranberry tartness. It needed a few more tablespoons of milk or I would have had real trouble stirring the dense batter, but the experiment was a success.

  • Janice says:

    Made this as a last-minute dessert for company – searched quick cranberry dessert. Excellent. Made 1/2 recipe (using 2 eggs), and baked in a loaf pan. Served with lime frozen yogurt. Guests loved it, me too!

  • Maryellen says:

    Made this in the morning to take to work on Valentine’s Day. It was still warm and I set it out with a little powdered sugar on top and a shaker of it for those who wanted to add a little more sweetness. I bake fairly frequently and have made other cranberry cakes, but the response to this one was unbelievable! In addition to the many thank you’s, I-want-that-recipe’s and mmm-that’s-soooo-good’s, there was jumping for joy, Oh-my-God-that’s-amazing! and banging on the table (a la When Harry Met Sally!). THANKS for an outstanding recipe! (BTW, if your oven is at the right temp and you don’t over-bake it, the top comes out beautifully golden, not overly brown).

  • Mary Jo Baker says:

    Can you use skim milk and salted butter in this recipe? MJ

  • Eddie says:

    “You may need to tent the cake with foil in the last 15 minutes or so to keep the top from browning.”

    This advice, as featured in the original recipe, would probably have yielded a result similar to the beautiful photos which convinced me to give this recipe a whirl. Instead, my cake has a crispy, light brown, meringue-like layer over its top surface.

    Awesome tart/sweet flavor contrast.

  • Kimi says:

    I have made this delicious cranberry cake every Christmas Eve for the past 3 years. My family always looks forward to it. I would not consider myself a “baker” by any means, but this recipe is fool-proof—even for me! Thanks so much for the great recipe!!

  • Lisa c. says:

    This cake is similar to one my mother makes every Christmas. I am using your recipe this year but adding chopped walnuts. I like the sweet-tart-nutty taste and we often have it for breakfast the next day.

  • Rose C. says:

    First time baking this cake but surly not the last time. The cake is wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee.

  • Marilyn says:

    Love this cake! Just what I was looking for in “Cranberryness”. It works well with frozen cranberries also.

  • Just found your blog– googled cranberry cake because we are having friends in and I had a bag of cranberries to use up. Searched images and yours looked perfect! It’s in the oven right now. So fun to find you– we are big cake eaters around here. thanks!

  • Gayle says:

    I have to bring a cake to a week night Christmas party – looking for a cake I can bake in the morning before work (can’t take too long to put together) then has to be portable without fear of ruining presentation. I will pick up 2 pints of my favorite vanilla ice cream on the way to the party to serve with this and I think I am going to have a big hit here! Great, simple recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kathy says:

    Wonderful recipe. As we can’t get fresh cranberries year round I use frozen during this period. Works just as well as fresh.

  • Lizzi says:

    Thank you for this fabulous recipe. Even the cranberry haters loved it. I am adding it to my Christmas Recipe file. I believe I will buy extra cranberries and freeze them so I can make this throughout the year, as someone mentioned they had used frozen berries.

  • maria says:

    i have frozen cranberries, should they be defrosted

  • kitty says:

    I put them in frozen all the time. Works well.

  • Denise holman says:

    Made this cake today and it sunk in the middle it’s nice never happened to me before

  • Tina A. says:

    Can I double this recipe for a12x18 pan?

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