Today’s recipe is a simple yet elegant Cranberry Cake made with Almonds and warm holiday spices. It will be the perfect end to your Christmas dinner! It can also be made without the garnish and glaze for a snack cake to be enjoyed any time of day throughout the holiday season.

a slice being lifted out of the cake

This post is sponsored by FAGE. I have been compensated for my time. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Why We Love This Cranberry Christmas Cake Recipe

This cranberry studded cake is lightly sweet and spicy. The pink icing (which is colored naturally with cranberry juice) adds additional sweetness and a festive flair. To top it off I made a batch of sugared cranberries and rosemary to garnish it.

It is the perfect festive and impressive-looking dessert for Christmas! But don’t worry it isn’t hard to make at all!

The cake batter is made with ground almond flour mixed into the flour mixture to give the cake richness and almond flavor. I then lightened it up with whipped egg whites to prevent it from being too dense. And for moisture and additional tangy richness I have also added a secret ingredient: FAGE sour cream!

Cranberry cake and a container of FAGE sour cream on a white table

Sour cream is an often-overlooked ingredient in baking and it’s worth a second look. The reason it makes cakes so great is that the acidity helps to tenderize the gluten in the flour and make the crumb of the cake finer.

I used the sour cream in place of butter in this batter (which saves about 1,200 calories) and only added two tablespoons of additional oil.

What I also love about the thickness of sour cream in this cake, in particular, is that it doesn’t thin out the batter too much, so that helps keep the cranberries from floating to the top of the cake as it bakes.

Ingredients For This Recipe

cranberry cake ingredients
  • Butter – Coating the baking pan with butter ensures the cake does not stick to the pan and also helps add a nice golden exterior to the cake. 
  • All-Purpose Flour – A good all-around flour used in many baked goods.
  • Almond Flour – Adds a slight sweetness, richness and great texture to the cake.
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda – When used together baking powder does most of the leavening of the batter and the baking soda works to neutralize the acids in the recipe and add tenderness.
  • Spices – Cinnamon and ground ginger add the perfect amount of spicy notes to the overall flavor profile.
  • Salt – Yes, even the flavor of baked goods benefit from a little salt.
  • Sour Cream – Replaces the butter which saves calories and adds moisture and a tangy richness to the cake.
  • Large Eggs – Add structure, help with leavening and contribute richness to the flavor of the cake.
  • Granulated Maple Sugar or White Sugar – Maple sugar will add a slight caramel nutty flavor to the cake, but granulated sugar will also work.
  • Avocado Oil – Helps add moisture, a lighter texture and moist crumb to the cake.
  • Almond Extract – Complements the almond flour and pairs well with the cranberries.
  • Milk – Contributes to the fantastic texture by adding a little fat and sugar to the batter.
  • Fresh Cranberries – The tart cranberries are a perfect addition and counterpoint to this rich slightly sweet batter.
  • Confectioners Sugar and Unsweetened Cranberry Juice – The combination of these two ingredients makes the perfect glaze to add a tart sweetness and festive look to this cake. Unsweetened cranberry juice is much stronger than cranberry cocktail. It is extremely tart and concentrated, and it adds bright pink color. If you can’t find it, you can use cranberry cocktail but note that it will yield a much less vibrant colored glaze.
cranberry cake slice on a plate in front of the cake stand

Step By Step Instructions To Make This Christmas Cake

cranberry-cake-step-1-2

Step 1: Preheat the oven, prepare the pan and combine the dry ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously coat a 9-inch springform pan with the softened butter.

Whisk flour, almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Use fingers to break up any clumps of almond flour.

Step 2: Combine the wet ingredients with the sugar.

Whisk sour cream, sugar, oil, extract and the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Let sit for a couple minutes and whisk again.

cranberry-cake-step-3-4

Step 3: Whip the egg whites.

Whites won’t whip well if there is any trace of fat in the bowl, and that includes yolk. So use care when you separate your eggs. Also make sure your bowl and beaters are clean.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. Then set the mixture aside. From this point on this is where you’ll need to move quickly. As it sits, the whites will slowly start to deflate and some of the whites will become liquidy at the bottom of the bowl.

Step 4: Finish mixing the batter and fold in the eggs whites and cranberries.

Stir half of the dry mix into the wet mix. Add milk and stir until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour mixture.

Fold in Egg Whites: Now add your whipped whites to the bowl of batter, and fold it into the batter in gentle sweeping strokes with the silicone spatula. Keep rotating the bowl and gently sweeping the spatula through the batter. Use long strokes across the bowl. Continue just until no white streaks of whites remain. Try not to overmix as this will work the air out of the batter.

Fold in Berries: Add in the berries using the same sweeping strokes, but this time, you’ll only need to fold three to 5 times. As you pour the batter out, the cranberries will continue to incorporate into the batter evenly and you really don’t want to beat the air out of the cake batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and scrape the bowl sides with the silicone spatula. Gently spread the batter out so that it is relatively smooth.

cranberry-cake-step-5-6

Step 5: Bake and cool the cake.

Bake until the center of cake springs back when lightly touched, about 40 minutes baking time.

To check if it is done, gently press your fingertips into the center of the cake. If the cake springs back you’ll know that it is set up. Next double check with a toothpick or cake tester that the center is cooked through. No wet batter should come out on the toothpick. Just some moist crumbs.

Remove the pan from the oven, place on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan and remove sides. Cool to room temperature.  

Step 6: Make the glaze and drizzle over the cake.

On its own, this cake is not terribly sweet. But the cranberry glaze really takes this from a snacking cake to a dessert cake. Plus the pink color is so festive and pretty! It is made with sifted confectioners sugar and unsweetened cranberry juice.

Whisk confectioner’s sugar with 3 tablespoons cranberry juice. If a thinner consistancy is desired add additional juice. Whisk until smooth and lump free, about 1 minute. Drizzle over the cooled cake and smooth with a spatula. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary if desired. Slice into wedges and serve.

  • Note that this glaze starts to set up quickly, so you’ll want to wait until just before you’re ready to spread the glaze on the cake. So wait until after the cake bakes and is cool to do this step.
  • It’s best to add the juice one tablespoon at a time, and test the thickness of the glaze. It is easy to make it too thin! You may need a little less or a little more.
  • Once it is added, whisk it for 1 minute to get rid of any clumps.
Use an offset spatula to spread the cranberry glaze over the cake.

Pour the glaze into the center of the cake. Since it sets up pretty quickly, you’ll want it to go on all at once. So scrape out the bowl with a silicone spatula.

Use an offset spatula to gently work the glaze over the surface of the cake, stopping just short of the edges. It is okay to allow it to spill over the edges. In fact you can intentionally lead it up to the edge where you want it to do so.

Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary

As I said, these are optional, but they really add a fancy festive flair if you’re serving this cake or any other cranberry dessert recipes for the holidays. So know that they take a while to dry, so you can make them before you bake the cake or while it is baking and cooling. The rosemary takes a while to dry completely, so don’t leave it to the last minute.

How To Make Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary

  1. Make the simple syrup and reduce it until it is thick and then remove it from the heat.
  2. Add the cranberries briefly and then take them out with a slotted spoon.
  3. Spread them out on parchment so they don’t touch and then let them dry for an hour.
  4. Do the same for the rosemary, but take care to separate the needles so they don’t clump up. Less is more for the syrup on the rosemary.
  5. Roll them one by one or a couple at a time in a shallow dish of sugar. Set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment to dry completely.

For more information about how to make Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary you can read more here.

How To Glaze and Garnish The Cake

Let the glaze set up for several minutes before adding on the sugared cranberries and rosemary.

adding cranberries to the top of the cake

FAQ’s and Expert Tips

Can fresh cranberries be used in baking?

Absolutely! The tartness of the fresh cranberries pairs perfectly with the rich sweetness of the cake.

Do fresh cranberries need to be cooked before baking?

No, just fold the raw cranberries into the batter and they will bake with the cake or other baked good.

Can dried cranberries be substituted for fresh?

Yes, but use 1/4 less of the dried. Dried cranberries will also add more sweetness to baked goods, as they are usually sweetened with sugar and have more calories and fat than fresh.

Can this Cranberry Almond Cake be frozen?

Yes, just wrap the unglazed cake well in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw completely before topping with the glaze.

More Cranberry Desserts and Baking Recipes To Try This Christmas Season

Additional Holiday Dessert Recipes To Try

a table from overhead with cranberry cake and a spatulal

Make sure you check out FAGE’s website to learn more about their new sour cream and find out where you can buy it in your area.

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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cranberry cake from the side and a slice on the plate

Cranberry Christmas Cake (with Sugared Cranberries)


  • Author: Katie
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Description

This festive Cranberry Cake with Almond and sugared cranberries and rosemary is a holiday worthy dessert. 


Ingredients

Scale

1 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup almond flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup FAGE Sour cream

2 large eggs, whites and yolks separated

¾ cup granulated maple sugar or white sugar

2 tablespoons avocado oil

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup milk

1 ½ cups fresh cranberries

1 ½ cups confectioners sugar, sifted

3 to 4 tablespoons cranberry juice, preferably unsweetened

Sugared cranberries and rosemary, for serving *see tip


Instructions

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously coat a 9-inch spring-form cake pan with the softened butter.

2.     Whisk flour, almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Use fingers to break up any clumps of almond flour.

3.     Whisk sour cream, sugar, oil, extract and the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Let sit for a couple minutes and whisk again.

4.     Whip egg whites with electric beaters on high until soft peaks form. Set aside.

5.     Stir half of the dry mix into the wet mix. Add milk and stir until smooth. Stir in the remaining dry mix. Fold the whites into the batter to lighten. Fold in cranberries. Pour into the prepared pan.

6.     Bake until the center of cake springs back when lightly touched, about 40 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges of the cake and remove sides. Cool completely.  

7.     Whisk confectioner’s sugar with 3 tablespoons cranberry juice. If a thinner consistancy is desired add additional juice. Whisk until smooth and lump free, about 1 minute. Drizzle over the cooled cake and smooth with a spatula. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary if desired. Slice into wedges and serve.

Notes

To Serve As a Snack Cake

Do not make the icing or sugared cranberries and rosemary and serve while still slightly warm. 

Tip To Make Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary

  1. Stir together1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and reduce it for 1 to 2 minutes until it is slightly thickened and then remove it from the heat.
  2. Add the cranberries briefly and then take them out with a slotted spoon. Spread them out on parchment so they don’t touch and then let them dry for an hour. Do the same for the rosemary, but take care to separate the needles so they don’t clump up. Less is more for the syrup on the rosemary.
  3. Roll them one by one or a couple at a time in a shallow dish of sugar. Set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment to dry completely.

Make Ahead Tips

The glaze is best the day you’re serving it. The cake and sugared cranberries can be made a day ahead. Once the cake is totally cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap to keep it moist. The cranberries can be stored on a wire cooling rack loosely covered with plastic wrap. This will prevent them from becoming too wet.

To Freeze The Unglazed Cake

Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw completely before topping with the glaze.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 cake
  • Calories: 308
  • Sugar: 32 g
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 31 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 5 g

Keywords: Cranberry Cake Recipe, Fresh Cranberry Cake Recipe, Cranberry Dessert Recipes, Cranberry Almond Cake