Cranberry Orange Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing


Over the weekend, I decided to do take out my mixer and test some recipes for Thanksgiving! After a few hours and an exploded bag of powdered sugar (it was literally EVERYWHERE), my kitchen counter was covered in desserts. The best? This cake. 


I've been brainstorming over the perfect cake for Thanksgiving dinner, and then I remembered the most delicious Lemon Blueberry Cake that I made this summer. It was a such a hit with my friends and family, that I had been dreaming up variations ever since! 

Cranberry and orange is one of my absolute favorite flavor combinations for the holidays. It was a no-brainer that I just had to make this cake this holiday season. So I did, and damn was it good. The cake is perfectly most and has a light orange flavor, studded with fresh cranberries throughout. My favorite part is the icing. I took my traditional cream cheese icing and added both orange zest and orange juice. I swear I could've eaten the whole bowl if I had no self-restraint! And on top of all of that, cranberry syrup! 

Seriously, y'all. Make this. You won't regret it. 

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Cranberry Orange Cake

  • 2 cups and 6 tablespoons cake flour
  •  2 tsp baking powder
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  2 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  •  1 cup whole milk
  •  2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  •  1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup pecans (optional, but we all thought they would be perfect!)

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

  •  1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  •  2 lb. powdered sugar (the big bags!)
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  •   vanilla to taste

Cranberry Orange Syrup

  •  1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  •  ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  •  ½ cup light corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9” round cake pans.

Sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, combines cranberries and 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture and coat the berries. Set aside. Stir whole milk, vanilla, and orange zest in small bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add the in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture. (Start with the flour, then add half of the milk, more flour, the rest of the milk, more flour). Fold in cranberries and pecans. Divide batter equally among pans.

Bake cakes until set, about 25 minutes.

For the icing:

Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add extracts, zest, and juice and blend once more.

For the syrup:

 Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil. Simmer the mixture for 7-12 minutes, until the cranberries pop. Remove from heat and let cool before topping the iced cake.