Cranberry Orange Layer Cake

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This Cranberry Orange Layer Cake is tender, fluffy and full of flavor! It’s a wonderful mix of sweet and tart and such a festive cake for the holidays!

This post is sponsored by Challenge Butter, but all opinions are my own.

slice of cake and full cake

Cranberry Orange Layer Cake

This cake will make all your holiday dreams come true. It’s packed with fresh cranberries and flavored perfectly with orange. The orange flavor is very clearly there, but not at all overwhelming. And then with the addition of the classic cream cheese frosting that’s flavored with a bit of orange, it makes the perfect combination of sweet, tart and tangy.

And while it looks fancy and festive, it’s actually quite simple to make. The cake batter comes together quickly with the classic creaming method and is frosted when cooled. That’s it! However this cake is anything but ordinary. It uses all the right things to make sure it’s tender and moist, while keeping the cranberries afloat. Let’s talk about how to make it.

Ingredients

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Baking Soda and Baking Powder – I find this combination gives the cake just the right rise and also keeps it tender.
  • Unsalted Challenge Butter – This is used in both the cake and the frosting. I used my favorite butter here, Challenge Butter. Challenge Butter is a high quality, creamy butter that goes from farm to fridge in just two days, so you know it’s fresh. It has no added hormones, artificial flavors or filling, so you can feel good about feeding it to your family. If you haven’t tried it before, you definitely need to.
  • Vegetable Oil – A little oil along with the butter ensures that you get both great flavor and great moisture in this cake.
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Sour Cream – Using some sour cream in place of milk helps to thicken up the cake batter and keep the cranberries afloat, as well as adding some extra moisture.
  • Eggs
  • Fresh Orange Juice and Zest – You’ll need 3-4 large oranges. I don’t recommend buying packaged orange juice, as that had other things added to it that can affect the way the cake bakes.
  • Buttermilk – This will add moisture to the cake and help keep it tender.
  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Challenge Cream Cheese – Used in our frosting, of course. And Challenge Cream Cheese is definitely the way to go. It’s made with real milk, cream and natural ingredients for amazing flavor and creaminess.
  • Powdered Sugar – You’ll find a decent amount of powdered sugar in the cream cheese frosting, which adds both volume and stability so that it stays in place on your cake.
slice of cake with butter behind ittop of cranberry orange layer cake

How to make Cranberry Orange Layer Cake

STEP 1: MAKE THE CAKE

  • Prepare your pan & preheat the oven. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides to be sure things don’t stick. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix the dry ingredients. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together.
  • Cream butter, oil and sugar. Add the butter, oil and sugar to a large mixer bowl and cream them together for about 2-3 minutes. You’ll notice the mixture lighten in color and get a nice, creamy texture to it when it’s ready.
  • Add more wet ingredients. First you’ll add the vanilla extract and sour cream and mix that well. Then you’ll add the eggs one at a time.
  • Start adding dry ingredients. Add about half of the dry ingredients first and mix that until mostly combined.
  • Add orange flavor and milk. Now add the fresh squeezed orange juice, zest and buttermilk and mix until well combined.
  • More dry ingredients. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Don’t over mix.
  • Add cranberries and bake. Toss the cranberries in a little flour and gently fold them into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between cakes pans and bake.
  • Cool. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely. The cakes will be super tender.

STEP 2: MAKE THE FROSTING

When the cake layers have cooled, you’ll make your cream cheese frosting.

  • Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer until smooth.
  • Add the sugar. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and orange zest and mix until smooth.
  • More sugar. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
slice of cake with another piece in backgroundfull cake on platter with butter in background

STEP 3: BUILD THE CAKE

Once the cakes are cool, remove the cake domes from top with a large serrated knife. See my tips on how to level a cake and how to stack a cake. Doing that properly will help keep your cake stable.

  • Frost the first layer. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  • Frost the second layer. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
  • Frost the cake. Top the cake with the remaining cake layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  • Decorate the cake. To make the line pattern in the side of the cake, use a 9 inch offset spatula to create the waves. Start at the bottom and move upward for each one. Pipe shells of frosting on the top edge of the cake and decorate with orange slices and cranberries, if desired.

The final cake is a thing of beauty! Such lovely colors and perfect flavors for the holidays! This cake truly couldn’t be more moist and tender. You are sure to fall in love with it!

slice of cranberry orange layer cakeside view of cranberry orange layer cake

More Great Cranberry Desserts

No Bake Sparkling Cranberry Orange Cheesecake
Sparkling Cranberry White Chocolate Cake
Easy White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge
Sparkling Cranberry White Chocolate Cupcakes
Cranberry Fudge Swirl Cheesecake
Sparkling Cranberry White Chocolate Bundt Cake
Cranberry Fudge Layer Cake

Video Tutorial


Read Transcript

Cranberry Orange Layer Cake

This Cranberry Orange Layer Cake is tender, fluffy and full of flavor! It’s a wonderful mix of sweet and tart and such a festive cake for the holidays!

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 32 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 52 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Cranberry Orange Cake

  • 3 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted Challenge Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups (362g) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp (86g) sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange zest (about 34 large oranges)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 247g) fresh cranberries

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz (452g) Challenge Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (224g) unsalted Challenge Butter, room temperature
  • 11 cups (1265g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp orange zest
  • Orange slices
  • Cranberries, for decorating

Instructions

1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

3. Add the butter, oil, and sugar to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.

4. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and mix until well combined.

5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.

6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.

7. Combine the fresh orange juice, orange zest and buttermilk then slowly add the mixture to the batter and mix until well combined.

8. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.

9. Toss the cranberries with 1/2 a tablespoon of flour and gently toss to combine, then add the cranberries to the cake batter and fold to combine.

10. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a just few crumbs.

11. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

12. To make the frosting, add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.

13. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.

14. Add the vanilla extract and orange zest and mix until well combined.

15. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add more or less powdered sugar, as desired for consistency purposes.

16. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat, if needed.

17. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.

18. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.

19. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.

20. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed. To make the line pattern in the side of the cake, use a 9 inch offset spatula to create the waves on the cake. Start at the bottom and move upward for each one.

21. Pipe shells of frosting on the top edge of the cake and decorate with orange slices and cranberries, if desired.

Keywords: cranberry orange layer cake