This Cranberry Christmas Cake is a holiday staple! It is a tender spiced coffee cake layered with a sweet cranberry topping and has the perfect combination of sweet and tart. This Cranberry Cake makes the perfect compliment to a dessert table filled with pies and cookies or a treat for a holiday brunch. We enjoy this cake for dessert on Thanksgiving and Christmas and then usually indulge in eating it for breakfast the following morning.
Cranberry Christmas Cake Recipe
This Cranberry Christmas Cake, also called Cranberry Upside Down Cake, is a recipe we have been making in my family for many years. If you are a cranberry lover like me, this will not disappoint and makes a fantastic addition to the holiday menu, but can also be eaten all year long!
Our family enjoys this recipe each Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it is always a popular item when brought to a brunch or holiday party.
The recipe is an easy to make, from scratch cake that just takes a few basic ingredients and comes out perfectly tender every time!
How to Make Cranberry Christmas Cake
To make this cake you will just need a few ingredients and a spring form pan. A spring form pan is a pan that has a bottom and a side piece that loosens with a lever so that you can remove it. If you do not have a springform pan, you should be able to make this with a regular cake pan by lining the edges with parchment or cutting around them well.
To start the cake you will sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Line the outside of the springform pan with foil to prevent leaking.
Next, bring the sugar and butter to a boil and then pour it in the spring form. Then layer in the cranberries and nuts.
In a large bowl, cream together more butter and sugar until fluffy and add the eggs and vanilla. Then the dry ingredients are added alternately with sour cream until a thick cake batter is formed.
Spread the cake batter on top of the cranberry mixture in the pan and then bake until a toothpick comes out clean.
Turn the cake out onto a serving plate so that the cranberries are on the top of the cake.
Cranberry Cake Tips & Tricks
Can I use Frozen Cranberries?
Yes! Cranberries are not generally available year round, so I like to stock up on them at the store and keep them in the freezer through the season and into the next year. They will stay good for about 6 months in the freezer and work just as well as fresh cranberries when baking.
Can I use Dried Cranberries in the Cake?
Unfortunately this recipe will not work well with dried cranberries. I would not recommend using them in this Cranberry Cake recipe even if they have been soaked or reconstituted.
Can I omit the nuts?
Yes! If you have a nut allergy or just don’t care for them, this cake will be just as delicious without the nuts as it is with them. Just omit them from the recipe. No other substitutions are needed.
Can I use less sugar in this Christmas Cranberry Cake?
Not really. Cranberries are extremely tart in their natural flavor so they need a decent amount of sugar to keep the taste pleasant. The topping also needs to have enough sugar to allow it to caramelize to create the irresistible topping. With that warning, if you would like to experiment with less sugar to get a more tart outcome you can, but I can not guarantee the outcome. If you do try it, let me know how it worked in the comments.
Can I freeze Cranberry Cake?
Yes! This cake will freeze well post baking. To freeze, let the cake cool completely. Then wrap it tightly or put it in an airtight container and place in the freezer for up to a month. To thaw, place it covered, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
Tip: I like to slice it into individual servings so I can just thaw one slice at a time when I want a treat or a little taste of the holidays!
I really hope that you get a chance to make this special cake during the holiday season, or anytime the fancy hits!
If you do get a chance to try it, I would love it if you let me know! You can leave me a comment below, or if you post a picture on Instagram, make sure to tag me @easyfamilyrecipes so that I can see what you are cooking up! It makes my day to see others enjoying the recipes that I share!
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Cranberry Christmas Cake
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
For the Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sour cream
- To prep for the cake, wrap the outside bottom of a 9" springform pan with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and set aside. Then put a sauce pan over medium heat and add the butter and sugar stirring frequently until it comes to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and pour into the bottom of the pan. Spread the cranberries and nuts evenly over the top of the sugar mixture.
- Next cream the softened butter and white sugar together until fluffy. Add each egg, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the sour cream mixing just until moistened between each addition. Then spread the cake batter over the cranberries in the pan.
- Bake on the middle rack for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake. Once done, allow the cake to rest for 15 minutes, then turn the cake over onto a serving platter and release it from the pan.