Cakes

Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze

4.69 from 63 votes
My Cranberry Orange Cake with Lemon Glaze uses classic ingredients and spices like cranberry, orange, and cardamom for a truly seasonal experience.
Cranberry Orange Cake is served on a golden-edge platter with two cups of coffee. The slice in front is served on a pink dessert plate, showing the moist interior loaded with cranberries bits and spices. It's covered with glossy lemon glaze which has lemon zest in.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: The flavor and texture of My Cranberry Orange Cake with Lemon Glaze is really like no other. As far as cakes go, it’s extremely moist and decadent without being overly rich.

  • Cranberry and orange are extremely complimentary flavors as the cranberry is earthy and tart and the orange is bright and sweet with the citrus notes you’re looking for. Together, not only do the tastes mesh well, but so do the aromas!
  • It is iconically fruity in flavor without the heaviness you get from traditional fruit cake. 
  • Then, the extra spice in this cake comes from a combination of cardamom and cinnamon, which are holiday staples in my opinion.

Heading into the holidays, I think it’s really important to have a few recipes on hand that are all about tradition like this one – perfect to remind us what winter baking is all about while still keeping the flavors fresh and interesting.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 11/8/2023, to include new photography, explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and Pro Chef Tips. 

Table of Contents

[ If you’re looking for more simple holiday recipes check out my Best Ever Pumpkin Bread and Holiday Microwave Mug Pies! ]

Cranberry Orange Cake is served on a golden-edge platter. The cut-out slice of cake shows the moist interior loaded with cranberries bits and spices. It's covered with glossy lemon glaze which has lemon zest in.

What is Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze?

  • Cranberry Orange Cake with Lemon Glaze is a delightful dessert that combines the tartness of cranberries, the sweetness of oranges, and the zesty brightness of lemon.
  • It is more of a quick bread or coffee cake type of cake rather than a traditional pound cake. It’s typically lighter and moister than a dense pound cake. The use of buttermilk, orange juice, and cranberries gives it a soft and tender crumb with a pleasant balance of sweet and tart flavors.
  • It’s a perfect treat for the holiday season or any special occasion.

Tools You Need

Key Ingredients for Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze and Why

Cranberry Cake

  • Cranberries

    • Cranberries provide tartness and freshness to the cake.
    • You can use fresh cranberries, frozen cranberries, or dried cranberries (see my Pro Chef Tips below).
  • All-purpose flour

    • All-purpose flour has the perfect amount of gluten to support the cake’s structure but still makes it light and fluffy.
    • Check out my Gluten-Free FLours Guide for gluten-free options.
  • Spices

    • Ground cinnamon and ground cardamom add warmth, giving the cake a complex, aromatic, satisfying flavor profile.
    • Ground allspice, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, or pumpkin pie spice will also work.
  • Baking powder and baking soda

    • Baking powder gives the Cranberry Orange Cake a controlled rise and a consistent structure. It keeps the cake from being heavy and dense.
    • When baking soda is combined with an acidic ingredient like buttermilk in a recipe, it causes a chemical reaction that creates carbon dioxide bubbles that make the cake light and fluffy.
    • Always have baking powder and baking soda on hand when you learn How to Make Baking Powder and Baking Soda!
  • Granulated sugar

    • Sugar sweetens the Cranberry Orange Cake.
    • Sugar binds easily with water, not only locking in water to make baked goods moist but also inhibiting gluten formation to make the cake soft.
    • Check out my chart for alternatives.
  • Brown sugar

    • Dark brown sugar doesn’t only sweeten the cake, but it also adds moisture, caramel and molasses notes, and depth to baked goods.
    • You only need white sugar and molasses to make your own brown sugar!
  • Vegetable oil

    • Vegetable oil contributes moisture to the cake, giving it a delectable texture.
    • Vegetable oil has more moisture than butter. That makes cakes made with vegetable oil moister and softer than those made with butter.
    • The neutral taste of vegetable oil lets the apple and spice flavors shine.
  • Eggs

    • Eggs enrich flavors and provide an emulsifier from the egg yolks to homogeneously bind all the ingredients together.
    • Eggs must always be at room temperature in baking unless specified otherwise. Room-temperature eggs will set this recipe on the right track with a smooth and cohesive cake batter.
    • Learn foolproof ways to get your eggs to room temperature quickly.
  • Sour cream:

    • Sour cream is acidic, which tenderizes the gluten in the batter, giving this cake a delicate, tender crumb.
    • The acidity in sour cream works with the baking soda and baking powder to give the cake a light, fluffy rise, and a rich and slightly tangy taste.
    • Learn How To Make Sour Cream, and you won’t have to worry about running out!
  • Citrus zest

    • Orange zest and lemon zest add a more concentrated freshness without diluting the cake batter.
  • Vanilla extract:

    • Vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor and aroma of the cake.
    • It contributes to the cake’s complexity and helps create a more well-rounded and enjoyable dessert.

Lemon Glaze:

  • Powdered sugar

    • Powdered sugar creates a delicious and visually appealing glaze that complements the flavors of the dessert.
    • It provides sweetness, texture, thickness, and binding properties.
  • Lemon zest:

    • Lemon zest elevates the lemon glaze’s flavor, aroma, and visual appeal.
    • It provides a concentrated burst of lemon essence and adds complexity to the glaze with a zesty, citrusy touch.
  •  Lemon juice:

    • Lemon juice imparts the essential citrus flavor, tartness, and aroma while also playing a role in controlling the glaze’s consistency.
    • It’s a key element in achieving the desired balance of sweet and tangy flavors in the glaze, making it the perfect complement to many desserts, especially those with a citrus twist.

How to Make Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze

  • For the Cranberry Cake

    • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line a 9-inch spring form pan.
    • Prepare fruit by pulsing cranberries in a food processor until finely chopped but not puréed; set aside.
    • Mix dry ingredients including flour, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
    • Mix wet ingredients including sugars, oil, and eggs in a separate large bowl. Lastly stir in sour cream, orange zest, lemon zest, vanilla, orange juice, and the chopped cranberries.
    • Combine the wet and the dry and pour the batter into the prepared pans.
    • Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
    • Let it cool in pans for 10 minutes then transfer onto a wire rack.
  • For the Lemon Glaze

    • Whisk powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl.
    • Spread glaze over warm cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Let stand until glaze becomes crackly, about 1 hour. I like to do this when the loaf is still warm as I feel it soaks into the loaf better.

Can I Make Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze in Advance?

  • Yes, you can make this Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze 2 days ahead of time.
  • I suggest you make the cake and glaze separately. Bring the cake to room temperature and glaze it before serving.

How to Store Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze

Make sure to let the cake cool completely before storing it.

  • Store airtight at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days to ensure it remains at its best quality.
  • You can also freeze the cake for 2-3 months: wrap the cake in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. Label the container with the date. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw it in the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

FAQs

  • What are some nut-free possible additions to this cake?
    • You can add pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, crushed pretzels, and chocolate chips for extra flavor and texture.
  • Can I use other citrus fruits to replace the orange flavor?
    • Yes, you can experiment with other citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or grapefruit to create different flavor variations.
  • Can I make a dairy-free version of this Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze?
    • Yes, you can use flax eggs, chia eggs, silken tofu, or another egg substitute of your choice from my chart, dairy-free buttermilk for sour cream to make the cake vegan.

Cranberry Orange Cake is served on a golden-edge platter with two cups of coffee. The slice in front is served on a pink dessert plate, showing the moist interior loaded with cranberries bits and spices. It's covered with glossy lemon glaze which has lemon zest in.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

  1. To substitute dried cranberries: soak the dried cranberries in a little orange or lemon juice for an hour or until they plump them up. Then drain them and use per my recipe (The quantity will be the same.)
  2. If you need to double this recipe for holiday celebrations, you can use two 9*5-inch loaf pans, two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans, one 9*13-inch cake pan, or one 14-inch bundt cake pan to make a big Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake. A stand mixer will make the preparation easier.
  3. Chopped toasted nuts such as walnuts, pecans, or almonds will be great additions to the cake.
  4. If you’d like to add some whole cranberries for extra texture, toss them in a bit of flour before adding them to the batter to prevent the cranberries from sinking to the bottom, as well as to keep them distributed evenly in the cake.
  5. Try my Best-Ever Swiss Meringue Buttercream FrostingLemon Buttercream Frosting, or add zest to make Orange Cream Cheese Frosting for a richer taste and creamier mouthfeel.
  6. Decorate your cake with orange slices on top and display it on a cake stand to make it more festive!

More Seasonal Cranberry Recipes:

And don’t forget to follow Bigger Bolder Baking on Pinterest!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 11/8/2023, to include new photography, explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and Pro Chef Tips. 

Watch The Recipe Video!

Cranberry Orange Cake Recipe with Lemon Glaze

4.69 from 63 votes
My Cranberry Orange Cake with Lemon Glaze uses classic ingredients and spices like cranberry, orange, and cardamom for a truly seasonal experience.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 8 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
My Cranberry Orange Cake with Lemon Glaze uses classic ingredients and spices like cranberry, orange, and cardamom for a truly seasonal experience.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

Cranberry Cake

  • 2 cups (8oz/225g) cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 ½ cups (7 1/2oz/213g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • cup (5 oz/142 g) granulated sugar
  • cup (4 oz/115 g) dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (4 fl oz/120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs* (see notes for substitute)
  • ½ cup (4 oz/115 g) sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup (2 ½ fl oz/71 ml) orange juice

Lemon Glaze:

  • ½ cup (2 oz/57 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

For the Cranberry Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line a 9-inch spring form pan.
  • Pulse cranberries in a food processor until finely chopped but not puréed; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, salt, cardamon, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. 
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugars, oil, and eggs. Lastly stir in sour cream, orange zest, lemon zest, vanilla, orange juice and the chopped cranberries.
  • Whisk the wet into the dry until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes the transfer to a wire rack.

For the Lemon Glaze

  • Whisk powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread glaze over warm cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Let stand until glaze becomes crackly, about 1 hour. I like to do this when the loaf is still warm as I feel it soaks into the loaf better. 
  • Serve at room temperature. This cake just gets better with time. It can be made 2 days ahead of time. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Recipe Notes

*To substitute eggs you can replace them with Flax or more sour cream or buttermilk. Check out my Egg Substitute Chart  

 

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Mauricio Jimenez
4 years ago

excuse me for my poor english, in Colombia it is difficult to get fresh cramberry, I prepared it with agraz and delicious.

Caroline
Caroline
1 year ago

I made this first time but it sank in the middle. ??
Followed exactly as says. I did use frozen cranberries.

Uzma Khan
Uzma Khan
1 year ago

Hi Gemma …can i make muffins with this recipe. If yes what should be the baking time n temperature

Eileen
Eileen
2 years ago

Love this cranberry/orange loaf. I am making it as Christmas gifts! It came out beautifully and was super easy with Gemma’s step by step process.

Vicki-Bea Hibbs
Vicki-Bea Hibbs
2 years ago

The BEST cake ever! I used artificial sugars and frozen cranberries and WOW! Thanks Gemma!

Kristina Rios
Kristina Rios
2 years ago

Thats a great recepie. I was just watching a cooking show and I saw a cake with orange and cranberries that look so good. And I found this recepie!!. Iam so happy!. Also i have always want to make a black forest cake. Do you have a recepie for that? I couldn’t find any in BBB but I dont know if iam missing it. Thankz!

Eleni Papastefanou
Eleni Papastefanou
3 years ago

Hello there!
I would like to try this recipe but i already have dried cranberries. Can i use those instead of the frozen or fresh? In what quantity if yes?
Thank you Gemma!

Victoria
Victoria
3 years ago

Hi Gemma, now I know what to do with my fresh canberries! Is it possible to frozen it? Thanks a lot

JaneP
3 years ago

I made it dairy-free (substitutes: flax eggs & tofu sour cream), used orange juice & orange zest as well as doubled the recipe for the glaze, and topped the cake with sugared cranberries. It turned out really well and delicious!

Maria Bowdler
3 years ago

Great recipe!I made Orange cake with orange glaze today to be ready for New Year’s eve 🙂 Will upload a photo above :)Have a lovely New Year with your family!

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Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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