Cranberry Christmas Cake
Cranberry Christmas Cake is a moist coffee cake that is similar to a quick bread. It is dotted with bright red cranberries and makes for a festive addition to a holiday breakfast or brunch, or even as a dessert. It also makes the perfect gift around the holidays!
My cousin’s neighbor gave her some Cranberry Bread before Christmas last year. She brought some to Christmas Eve to share with the family. Everyone that tried it seemed to love it! I didn’t have any because it wasn’t gluten free, but I loved the color and thought it would be so pretty to have on Christmas morning. It reminded me of Blueberry Boy Bait but with cranberries in place of the blueberries.
Thankfully, my cousin got the recipe from her neighbor. I decided to adjust the amount of almond extract and add in some vanilla. Although the original recipe is called Cranberry Bread, it is very similar to a coffee cake in texture. It does remind me of my favorite Christmas quick breads: Pineapple Carrot Bread and Poppy Seed Bread.
When Bob took a bite, he immediately said, “we need to have this for breakfast every Christmas morning!” I don’t think the girls would argue with that assessment!
This cake is super moist and sweet, nicely balanced with the tartness of the cranberries. It is so festive too. I sprinkled ours with some sparkling sugar, but it would be really pretty with a dusting of powdered sugar to look like snow.
One thing you may notice about this cake is that there is no leavening agent. Typically a quick bread or coffee cake will have baking powder, baking soda, or both. This recipe utilizes a different method to help the batter rise.
The sugar and eggs are beaten at a high speed for a longer amount of time than usual, 5 to 7 minutes. This is done until the batter has almost doubled in size. This step introduces air into the batter that allows the cake to rise without the addition of a leavener.
After the batter has doubled, the melted butter and extracts are mixed in, followed by the flour and salt. Then the cranberries are carefully folded into the batter.
The batter is poured into a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish or a 9-inch loaf pan. The loaf pan would produce more of a Cranberry Bread, similar to Pineapple Carrot Bread and Poppy Seed Bread. If you’re giving this cake away for gifts, you could use disposable aluminum loaf pans or mini loaf pans. For the mini loaves, make the batter the same way, but reduce the baking time.
The cake is baked for about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
The cake can be cooled and stored at room temperature until serving.
To make this cake a little more special, I added some sparkling sugar flakes on top. I cannot find the brand I have online, but this one looks very similar. Another idea would be to sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar just before serving, to look like freshly fallen snow.
Gluten Free Cranberry Christmas Cake
Use a measure for measure gluten free flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour, in place of all purpose flour for an entirely gluten free coffee cake!
Looking for More Quick Bread Recipes?
Check out these other Quick Breads:
Poppy Seed Bread
Pineapple Carrot Bread
Double Chocolate Banana Bread
Ultimate Banana Bread
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Also try this Blueberry Boy Bait coffee cake!
- 9×13-inch baking dish or 9-inch loaf pan
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups butter, melted (3 sticks)
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour (or gluten free)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (see note)
- sparkling sugar flakes or powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish or pan and set aside. Alternatively, a 9-inch loaf pan may be used.
- Beat the sugar and eggs together well for 5 to 7 minutes with a stand or hand mixer. The mixture should almost double in size. This whipping steps is used instead of a leavening agent.
- Beat in the melted butter until incorporated, then add the extracts and blend.
- Sift together the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl.
- Stir in the flour mixture until just mixed, then fold in the cranberries.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. For mini loaves, the baking time should be reduced.
- Cool cake to room temperature, cut, and serve.