Fresh Cranberry Cake

A rustic cake that "pops" with fresh cranberries. It's best made a day ahead so works especially well for potlucks and holiday food gifts.

Fresh & Seasonal, Special Cake for the Holidays. Great Choice for a Hostess Gift or Make-Ahead Dessert to Carry for Office Parties and Holiday Gatherings.
Fresh Cranberry Cake ♥, a rustic cake that pops with fresh cranberries, best made a day ahead so perfect for potlucks and holiday gifts.

“IKEA is coming! IKEA is coming!”

So buzzed St. Louis last week when the Swedish retailer IKEA announced plans to open a store here in 2015.

Most folks, I figure, are excited for IKEA’s inexpensive, Scandinavian-style assembly-required furniture and kitchens plus the vast (overwhelming) warehouses of affordable do-jabs and do-jibs generously categorized as “more stuff we can’t live without” and “fuel for the American economy”.

Me? I’m thrilled for IKEA’s lingonberries, the tiny red northern berries whose sour juice I first experienced while living in Finland as an exchange student an incomprehensible number of decades ago.

Here in the States, lingonberry jam is findable if pricey and once I found a single bag of frozen lingonberries at the wonder that is Global Foods Market, an international market just a quick distance away.

But fresh lingonberries? Impossible! Lingonberries are just not happenin’, not even if in 2012 Dr. Oz called them the new superfood for longevity.

So my passion for lingonberries cedes to the winter season’s ubiquitous fresh cranberries, larger, meatier and less juicy but nonetheless a suitable substitute.

Fresh Cranberries vs Dried Cranberries

Calorie watchers, fresh cranberries are a good choice for desserts and other dishes, better than the dense, sweetened dried cranberries. Dried cranberries have their place but really, they’re almost something entirely different, don’t you think?

  • Fresh cranberries are the whole food, nothing but the berry.
  • In contrast, dried cranberries are not only commercially dried, they're sweetened.

Who else is into fresh cranberries? What’s your favorite berry? Have you tried lingonberries? Are you keen for “sour” fruit? Is there another fruit that you especially love for its “sourness”? Do share!

And if you're as into cranberries as I am, you'll definitely want to check out my collection of cranberry recipes! Have fun exploring!

Cranberry Recipes & Ideas ♥, Savory to Sweet. Recipes, tips, nutrition & Weight Watchers points included.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 3 hours but tastes better after 24 hours
Makes 1 large springform pan, about 16 servings
  • Baking spray
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons/6oz/170g) salted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (don’t skip!)
  • 2 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 250g
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 ounces (2-1/3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons/2oz/28g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup (120g) untoasted pecans (Missouri-native black walnuts are wonderful too!)

CAKE Heat oven to 350F/180C. Spray a 10-inch springform pan with baking spray.

In a standing mixer with the “whip” attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes; the mixture will increase in volume and turn pale yellow, when the beaters are lifted, “ribbons” will fall.

Beat in the butter, vanilla and almond extract for 2 minutes until fully incorporated. With a spatula, fold in the flour, salt and cranberries, the mixture will be thick, especially if the cranberries are frozen. Gently transfer to the springform pan, smoothing the top.

TOPPING In a small bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar and nuts until combined and crumbly. With your fingers, crumble over top of the cake batter.

BAKE Uncovered, bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, place a piece of foil over the cake, not tightly but loosely, so hot air gets in but the nuts on top don’t burn. Bake for another 30 minutes. Check for doneness, a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If needed, bake for another 5 – 10 minutes, foil off.

COOL Let cool for 20 – 60 minutes, then slip a knife around the outside of the pan and remove the sides. Finish cooling.

TO SERVE Cake can be served after cooling but will slice more neatly and will develop more flavor after 24 hours. Just cover and store at room temperature. Lovely served with whipped cream sweetened with a little cranberry liqueur.

MAKE-AHEAD Bake the cake one day. Once completely cool, cover and serve the next.

ALANNA’s TIPS Careful bakers will notice there’s no leavening in this cake, no baking powder, no baking soda. Instead, the eggs and sugar are beaten for a long while, aerating them to provide the “lift” of a cake. Still, please know, this is quite a dense cake, rustic and homey. It is quite sweet, quite thick, we were happy with skinny slices. The full recipe fills a large springform pan but easily divides in three to fill a small springform pan. On Day One, I found Fresh Cranberry Cake “good but not special”. By Day Two, I could have eaten the whole darned thing by myself! Fresh Cranberry Cake would make one fine birthday cake for Jesus.
Per Slice Without the Nut Topping, Assumes 16 Slices: 254 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 62mg Cholesterol; 220mg Sodium; 40g Carb; 1g Fiber; 26g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 6 & PointsPlus 7 & SmartPoints 12 & Freestyle 11 & myWW green 12 & blue 11 & purple 11
Per Slice With the Nut Topping, Assumes 16 Slices: 338 Calories; 16g Tot Fat; 8g Sat Fat; 70mg Cholesterol; 241mg Sodium; 43g Carb; 2g Fiber; 29g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 8 & PointsPlus 9 & SmartPoints 15 & Freestyle 15 & myWW green 15 & blue 15 & purple 15
CALORIE COUNTERS 100-Calorie Serving = 1/3 a slice PREFER FEWER CALORIES? For a cranberry cake with fewer calories, substitute cranberries for blueberries in my mom's famous Blueberry Coffeecake.
Adapted from Cranberry Cake at The Kitchn. Be sure to read the many comments raving about this cake, especially with the addition of orange zest. The author makes small loaves for gifts, omitting the Nut Topping, which works quite well for loaves since the batter bakes into a crispy, nubbly-looking crust.

More "Crazy for Cranberries" Recipes

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies Cranberry Apple Crisp Cranberry Pudding with Butter Sauce
~ more cranberry recipes ~

Who's Itching to Bake for Christmas?

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Frosty Christmas Trees No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies Graham Cracker Toffee Homemade Microwave Caramel Corn
~ more recipes for holiday baking ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ cranberry recipes ~
~ nut recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2013 & 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Looks great and plan to make this tomorrow. Only one problem: I HATE Almond extract--hate marzipan, too. In an angel food cake with 1/4 tsp., I can taste the stuff in just one bit. What would be a good substitute? Thanks for any info!

  2. Sarah Ann ~ Maybe lemon extract? Or orange extract? Or maybe just more vanilla??? I’m a little stumped, I like that bit of almond extract so much, it’s hard to imagine anything else! Hmm, here’s a creative one, anise perhaps??? Yes, I think anise might be good? Let me know how it goes for you!

  3. Wow, this looks delicious!

  4. Alanna,
    I'm with Sarah Ann re almond extract and marzipan. I'm not sure if it's because I've got 3 cases of citrus in the breakfast nook or what, but I'll be trying this with orange zest.

  5. The Cranberry Cake was so special -- did it exactly as the recipe told and everyone loved it. I will do it again for a couple more entertaining events we have coming up.

    Thank you for really "cooking" in your column -- not just following recipes to the T. It is much more fun that way, isn't it?


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna