This cranberry orange cake with cream cheese frosting is bursting with holiday flavors. Perfectly moist with the softest cake crumb – the combination of sweet oranges and tart cranberries makes it perfect for Christmas.
Are Cranberries Good for You?
Half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories.
The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.
They are low in calories and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K.
Oh hi there! My name’s Fiona and I’m so excited to meet you! I blog over at Just So Tasty, and today’s my first guest post on Oh Sweet Basil.
I love baking, eating cake, and listening to country music. (Is that embarrassing? The country music part I mean???) And making tasty treats for the people I love is one of my absolute favorite things.
I was so excited when Carrian asked me to share recipes on Oh Sweet Basil, so today I’m starting off with this easy Cranberry Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s a perfectly moist vanilla sheet cake infused with fresh oranges and dotted with tart cranberries. Then it’s frosted with tangy cream cheese icing and decorated with sugared cranberries and orange zest.
Why is Cream Cheese Frosting Lumpy?
There is one way to avoid lumps in your frosting and hardly any cookbooks mention it. You must cream the butter very well in the first step.
Most cookbooks instruct you to ensure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature before mixing.
If you did this to the best of your ability and still had lumpy frosting what happened is that your butter did not soften up enough first.
Since butter and cream cheese warm at different rates the best method is to cream the heck out of the butter before adding the cream cheese.
Then it’s foolproof.
Creaming the butter for several minutes softens and warms it sufficiently so it combines smoothly with the remaining ingredients.
The flavors are perfect for the holidays and the soft, delicate cake crumb makes you ask for a second piece. Not to mention the cream cheese frosting…. Is there anything more delicious???
Now while the cake is straight forward and easy to make, there’s a few key ingredients and tips to ensure it turns out perfectly. So here goes:
Tips For Making Cake
- Make sure the butter is room temperature before getting started. This makes the creaming process much easier.
- We’re using just egg whites so our cake is light & fluffy in texture. Egg whites give lift to baked goods.
- Then sour cream and milk add moisture for the perfect moist cake crumb. Make sure they’re warmed to room temperature so you don’t have to over mix the batter.
- Then to keep the cake crumb delicate, we’re using cake flour. It’s important not to pack down the flour while measuring. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make your own with cornstarch and all-purpose flour. See the recipe notes for more details.
- Then for the delicious orange flavor we’re using both freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest. The orange flavor is natural and delicious when paired with the tart cranberries.
- Finally, for the cream cheese frosting – make sure the butter and cream cheese are both softened to room temperature before getting started. This ensures your frosting is smooth and creamy with no lumps.
I absolutely love this cake for the holidays. The fresh oranges, cranberries and cream cheese frosting make for the perfect flavor combo. And if you need a cake to feed a crowd – this recipe’s for you.
Cranberry Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cranberry Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Sugared Cranberries*
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 oz fresh cranberries
For the Cranberry Orange Cake
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour**
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large egg whites, discard the egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup whole milk, 1% or 2% work too
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 cups chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen do not thaw first)
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 6 oz brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1-2 tablespoons whipping cream, milk works too
- 1-2 tablespoons orange zest for decorating
- !For the Sugared CranberriesIn a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in the 1/2 cup water.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, stir in the fresh cranberries until they're well coated in the sugar water.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries to a wire rack to dry.
- After approximately 1 hour, roll the cranberries in the additional 1 cup of sugar.
- Transfer the cranberries back to the wire rack to dry.
- !For the Cranberry Orange CakePreheat the oven to 350F degrees.
- Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch cake pan with parchment paper, and grease the sides of the pan. Or grease and flour the entire pan.
- In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt ensuring there aren't lumps in the flour.
- Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl using a stand or hand-held electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed and fluffy and no lumps remain (about 1-2 minutes).
- Add in the egg whites and vanilla and continue beating until combined (about 30 seconds).
- Then turn the mixer down to low speed and beat in the milk and sour cream.
- With the mixer on low speed, carefully beat in the flour mixture. Be very careful not to over mix the batter.
- Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- In a separate medium sized bowl (or the bowl that you used to sift together the flour mixture), toss the chopped cranberries with 2 teaspoons of flour.
- Carefully stir the chopped cranberries, orange zest and orange juice into cake batter using your large rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top with your spatula.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the edges of the cake are pulling away from the sides of the pan.
- Allow to cool fully before frosting.
- !For the Cream Cheese FrostingIn a large bowl using a stand or hand-held electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until softened and no lumps remain.
- Turn down the mixer to low speed and careful beat in the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time.
- Finally, beat in the whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired sweetness level and consistency are reached. You may need to add in a little extra powdered sugar as necessary. The frosting should be smooth, and thinner than peanut butter in consistency.
- To frost the cake,
- invert it from the cake pan and place on a cake board. (Alternatively, you can frost it in the pan and serve it from there.)
- Frost the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting using a flat-edge knife.
- Slice into 12-15 pieces, and place a few sugared cranberries on the top of each piece, and sprinkle with additional orange zest.
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If you love cranberries & oranges, why not try this cranberry orange loaf? It’s perfectly moist and drizzled with sweet orange glaze.
Now – I absolutely love anything with white chocolate, and the combination of sweet white chocolate and tart cranberries is even more delicious. How amazing do these look?
Or why not try this white chocolate cranberry pecan fudge? It’s a perfect gift for the holidays.