Almond-Cranberry Cake

layer cake

Tart cranberries and nutty almond extract give the simple 1-2-3-4 cake a boost of bright holiday flavor. The Sugared Cranberries garnish serves a dual purpose, creating a beautiful holiday topping as well as a simple syrup that you’ll brush onto your cake layers to make them extra-tender.

3.0 from 2 reviews
Almond-Cranberry Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams), room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) tightly packed orange zest
  • ¾ teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon (3 grams) almond extract
  • 3 cups (375 grams) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk, room temperature
  • 1½ cups (165 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup (140 grams) simple syrup, reserved from Sugared Cranberries (recipe follows)
  • Almond Buttercream (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: lightly toasted sliced almonds, Sugared Cranberries (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray with flour.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange zest and extracts.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Transfer half of batter (about 323 grams) to a large bowl; fold in half of fresh or frozen cranberries. Fold remaining fresh or frozen cranberries into remaining batter in mixer bowl. Pour into prepared pans, smoothing tops with an offset spatula.
  4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Trim cooled cake layers flat, and brush each layer with simple syrup. Spread 2 cups (490 grams) Almond Buttercream between layers. Spread remaining buttercream on top and sides of cake. Garnish with almonds and Sugared Cranberries, if desired.

3.0 from 2 reviews
Sugared Cranberries
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup (120 grams) water
  • 1 cup (110 grams) fresh cranberries
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat ½ cup (100 grams) sugar and ½ cup (120 grams) water over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until sugar dissolves. Let cool slightly.
  2. Stir cranberries into syrup. Remove cranberries using a slotted spoon, and let excess drip off. Place on a sheet of parchment paper, and let dry for 1 hour. Reserve ½ cup (140 grams) simple syrup for Almond-Cranberry Cake.
  3. Toss together cranberries and remaining ½ cup (100 grams) sugar.

3.0 from 2 reviews
Almond Buttercream
  • 2 cups (454 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 (2-pound) package (907 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup (120 grams) cold heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) almond extract
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and salt at medium-low speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low; add confectioners’ sugar, about 1 cup (120 grams) at a time, alternately with cold cream, about 1 tablespoon (15 grams) at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until smooth and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add almond extract, and beat until combined.
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  1. I made this for our Christmas dinner dessert. And was esky disappointed with it. The cake tasted okay, but was really dense. I opted to use a cranberry sauce between the layers of cake instead of the simple syrup. Could this be the reason for the texture?

    • Hi Wayde,

      Thanks for reaching out! As a general rule, cakes can become more dense for the following reasons: under-whipping the sugar and butter (this stage incorporates air that lends to a fluffy cake) or adding ingredients that are not room temperature, such as eggs or dairy (which can cause separation and deflation). Also, adding the flour and liquid too quickly can cause a batter to break, and over-mixing the batter when adding flour may also create a tough cake, as gluten will be formed. As you can see there are many factors that go into a fluffy cake, but we recommend making sure that the butter and sugar are whipped well, and the ingredients are room temperature!

  2. This may be the best cake I have ever had. My husband and I were head over heels for this one. I actually baked it in a 1/4 sheet pan and then cut out 6″ circles and did a three layer cake and put some of the sugared cranberries between the layers also. This is a keeper and will be made over and over again in our house. THANK YOU so much for sharing this recipe. I am truly WOWed by this one.


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