Love EASY, super delicious cakes with a moist, tender, crumb? This one-bowl, no-mixer Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake is super festive and checks all the boxes!
It started back in 2015 with this French Grandmother's Lemon Yogurt Cake. Scott and I were headed to France for a 40th anniversary celebration and I was researching French recipes to feature during our trip. I ran across a recipe for a super easy French lemon yogurt cake. We loved the cake and I gave it the silly name because, historically, this was a dessert that French grandmothers were quite famous for. The cake has become a favorite with our readers and one of our most popular recipes ever! This Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake is the same recipe dressed up with a festive holiday outfit.
Don't let the fancy clothes intimidate you though. This Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake requires just one bowl (no mixer) and is just as easy (and delicious!) as the original. It comes together quickly and you can either roughly chop the cranberries or leave them whole (as pictured). The orange glaze might sound complicated, but it's a two-ingredient mixture that you stir up while the cake bakes and brush it on while it's warm.
The glaze will dry and harden, giving the cake a beautiful, crisp candy-like glaze. Check out what I mean below!
If you've been following The Café for a while you may have tried some of our other variations of this same wonderful recipe. There's our Easy French Almond Cake, our Fresh Cherry Almond Cake, our French Almond Cake with Fresh Cherry Buttercream, our Easy Almond Coconut Cake, our Orange Olive Oil Cake and this Key Lime Coconut Cake. You can see this is a "go-to" recipe for me as it's so darn easy, so delicious and (obviously) SO easily adapted!
A delicious anytime cake
This Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake is a perfect cake to make anytime during the fall and/or holiday season. It's not too sweet or heavy so it's wonderful for an afternoon tea, a dessert get together or an after dinner dessert with coffee. Because this cake doesn't have a sugary, creamy icing, you could even get away with it for a breakfast or brunch treat.
A festive crunch
In addition to the simple orange glaze, this cake gets a sprinkle of sparkling sugar.
Sparking sugar adds a wonderful crunch to each bite of this Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake . It also pairs well with and enhances the juicy, tart cranberries.
Sparkling sugar (aka sanding sugar) is a fun, festive, beautiful and EASY way to dress up a cake and add a delicious little crunch. In this Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake recipe, the sparkling sugar is sprinkled over the top right after brushing on the orange glaze so it stays in place as the glaze dries. Sparkling sugar is available at lots of larger grocery stores in cake decorating/birthday candle area and also online.
I love the way the sparkling sugar glistens and glimmers in the light.
A moist, tender crumb
If you've made our French Grandmother's Cake or any of the variations listed above, you know that this cake has an incredibly moist, tender crumb. I'm a big fan of butter in cakes but this recipe calls for oil. I was a bit skeptical about this but the first bite convinced me that this was a winner without butter.
Have I convinced you that this Ridiculously Easy Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake is a "must-make" recipe? Try it and you'll know that I'm not spoofing you! Especially when the rave reviews come rolling in...
Cafe Tips for making this Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cake
- This recipe calls for fresh cranberries. You could also use frozen cranberries. I leave them whole and most of them rise to the top. I really like the way the tart cranberries pair deliciously with the crunchy sweet topping, but you could also coarsely chop them to distribute the cranberries more evenly through the cake.
- If you've made our French Grandmother Lemon Yogurt Cake or any of the other adaptations mentioned above, you might remember that the flat bottom becomes the top of the cake after baking. This cranberry cake is different in that you'll brush glaze on the bottom of the cake after it's turned out onto a cooling rack but then you'll flip it over so the rounded top is up. The top then gets brushed with the glaze and sprinkled with the crunchy sparkling sugar.
- You can sub Demerara, Turbinado or raw sugar for the sparkling sugar if you're in a pinch. The "crunch" will be the same, but the sparkling sugar does give a pretty "sparkling" presentation that you won't get with other sugars.
- Any type of neutral-flavored oil works well in this recipe. I have made it with sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil and avocado oil. They all work well.
- No buttermilk? No problem! You can use sour cream or yogurt in lieu of the yogurt.
- You can also quickly make your own buttermilk:
- Just add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a measuring cup. Fill the cup with milk to the ½ cup level and stir. Wait 5 minutes, stir again and you’re good to go! The milk should thicken just a bit after the 5 minutes.
- Be sure to let the cake cool for 10 minutes before inverting and brushing with the glaze. This short cooling time gives the cake a chance to “set” a bit so it won’t collapse or fall apart when removed from the pan.
- Brush the glaze on slowly and use it all. Some of it will drip off, but most will be absorbed by the cake and will form the delicious candy-like glaze.
- This recipe calls for a 2-inch deep, 8-inch pan. Not all 8-inch pans are that deep. If you don’t have a 8-inch pan that’s at least 2-inches deep, you might want to use a 9-inch pan (the cake won't be as high) or an 8-inch springform pan.
- I love this 8-inch baking pan. It has a nice, textured non-stick finish, is super sturdy and comes through the dishwasher beautifully!
- I love these pre-cut parchment paper rounds. They're reasonably priced, super convenient and save lots of time when baking cakes.
- This cake freezes well, although the glaze won’t be crisp when it’s thawed. I freeze the cake uncovered for an hour until it’s mostly frozen then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Freezing it uncovered keeps the cake from getting smushed when you’re wrapping it.
- The best way to check if a cake is done is with an instant thermometer. Instant thermometers are reasonably priced and are invaluable to determine whether cakes, cupcakes, meats, etc. are done. Cakes will be done when the internal temp reaches 205-210˚F (96-99˚C).
Thought for the day:
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- finely grated zest of 1 medium orange save the juice for the glaze
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup neutral-flavored oil ie, sunflower, avocado, grape seed, canola, soybean, vegetable oil.
- 1½ cups whole cranberries
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- ¾ cup of powdered sugar
- sparkling sugar for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Spray an 8-inch round cake pan generously with baking spray, rub inside surface of pan with a paper towel to cover evenly with the spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and spray parchment paper lightly. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, sugar, and eggs along with the vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk until well blended. Add the orange zest, baking powder and salt. Whisk again until all baking powder is incorporated.
Add the flour and stir just until combined. Add the oil and stir well. Don’t worry, at first it will seem to separate, but keep stirring till smooth, about 30 seconds.
Fold in the cranberries, reserving about 20 for the topping.
Pour the batter into a prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved cranberries over the top and gently push them in so just the top is poking out.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (every oven is different, so check with the toothpick test rather than the time). Be careful not to over bake though. The best way to tell if a cake is done is to check the internal temperature with an instant thermometer. The internal temp should be 200-205˚F.
If the cake seems to be getting too brown but is still not done in the center, remove the cake from the oven. Set the cake on a sheet of foil and bring the foil up around the outer edges of the pan. You can also lightly cover the top with foil to prevent over browning.
Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes; then turn it out of the pan onto the rack. The bottom of the cake will be facing up at this point. Combine the orange juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and stir with a fork until nice and smooth.
With a pastry brush, gently pat the glaze all over the bottom (facing up right now) and sides of the cake. Then flip the cake over and brush the top and sides (again) with the remaining glaze. Keep going over the cake till the glaze is gone. Some of it will drip off, but most of it will soak in. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sparkling sugar. Allow cake to cool completely.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.