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Orange Cranberry Cake

close up overhead shot of a slice of Orange Cranberry Cake garnished with chopped walnuts on a plate
Two layers of sweet orange and tart cranberry flavors topped with cream cheese frosting make this orange cranberry cake an excellent choice for the holiday season.
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Table of Contents
  1. ORANGE CRANBERRY CAKE INGREDIENTS
  2. HOW TO MAKE THIS ORANGE CRANBERRY CAKE RECIPE
  3. HOW TO SERVE
  4. STORAGE
  5. MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This beautiful orange cranberry cake’s vibrant and rich colors are stunning, and it tastes divine too! Two moist layers of cake flavored with orange and bursting with pops of color from the bright red tart cranberries, topped with a silky cream cheese frosting, make this a centerpiece you’ll surely want to add to your fall table.

For more delightful layer cakes, try our cherry chip cake and hummingbird cake recipes.

ORANGE CRANBERRY CAKE INGREDIENTS

You’ll need:

For the Cake Layers

  • 2 whole oranges, for the zest and fresh orange juice
  • 1½ cups dried cranberries – or – fresh cranberries, washed/dried and cut into halves
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box white cake mix
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup orange juice 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting

  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup salted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts as an optional garnish

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

CRANBERRIES: You can use frozen cranberries. Allow them to completely thaw, rinse and dry them before cutting them in half. You can also use dried cranberries if you can’t get your hands on fresh or frozen ones at the grocery store.

ORANGE: If a much stronger orange flavor is wanted in this cranberry orange cake, simply replace the ½ cup water and ½ cup orange juice with 1 cup juice.

TOPPINGS: You can also garnish the top of your orange-cranberry cake with thin slices of fresh orange or candied orange slices and sugared cranberries.

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HOW TO MAKE THIS ORANGE CRANBERRY CAKE RECIPE

For the Cake Layers

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with Baker’s Joy or a generic version.

PRO TIP:

Using cake strips around the cake pans can help ensure the cake layers bake level.

STEP TWO: Using a fruit zester, zest 2 oranges. Once you have the zest, cut 1 orange in half and squeeze for the orange juice. Set it aside.

STEP THREE: In a small bowl, sprinkle the 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour over the cranberries, and stir to coat. Set it aside.

PRO TIP:

Coating the cranberries in flour will help keep them suspended in the cake batter and not sink to the bottom.

STEP FOUR: Using a medium-sized mixing bowl and a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the cake mix, vegetable oil, water, orange juice, eggs and orange zest just until the ingredients are well combined.

STEP FIVE: Fold in the coated cranberries and walnuts.

STEP SIX: Evenly divide the cake batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for  25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the Frosting

STEP ONE: Using a medium bowl and a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract for 1 minute.

PRO TIP:

Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature so that you don’t end up with lumps in your frosting.

STEP TWO: Lower the mixer speed to low speed, add the orange zest, heavy cream and powdered sugar. Increase speed to medium, and mix for another 1 to 1½ minutes until the frosting is smooth.

For the Cake Assembly

STEP ONE: Remove the bottom layer of cake from its pan and place it on a serving plate. Using a silicone spatula, or an offset spatula, evenly spread a layer of frosting onto the cake.

STEP TWO: Remove the top layer cake from its pan and evenly spread a thicker layer of icing on top, and then spread the frosting around the sides of the cake, smoothing as you frost.

STEP THREE: Once the cake is frosted, you can evenly sprinkle the finely chopped walnuts on top of the cake. (This is an optional decoration.)

HOW TO SERVE

This easy cranberry orange cake would be the perfect Christmas dessert or to finish off your Thanksgiving meal. The rich holiday flavors would be an ideal finish to a festive meal. Pair it with pumpkin pie or pumpkin cupcakes for even more autumn deliciousness.

STORAGE

IN THE FRIDGE: Store any leftovers of this moist orange cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

IN THE FREEZER: The unfrosted cake layers can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap the cooled cakes in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil before placing them in the freezer. Allow the layers to come to room temperature before frosting the layers.

This holiday season will be even brighter with this gorgeous cake. The tangy cranberry flavor mixed with the sweet orange flavor will bring warm and cozy cheer this time of year. I guarantee your family will love this delectable cake.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I freeze this cake?

You can freeze this cake for up to three months, but it is a good idea to freeze it before being frosted.

Could I make this cake as a single layer in a 9×13-inch pan?

This perfect recipe could be turned into a rectangular cake if you’d like. You may end up with extra batter and will have to adjust the baking time, but we think this cake would be delicious in any shape.

Can I use store-bought icing?

If you need to save time, you could use a store-bought cream cheese frosting and mix in the orange zest to add a bit of citrus flavor.

MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE

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close up overhead shot of a slice of Orange Cranberry Cake garnished with chopped walnuts on a plate

Orange Cranberry Cake

5 from 1 vote
Two layers of sweet orange and tart cranberry flavors topped with cream cheese frosting make this orange cranberry cake an excellent choice for the holiday season.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients
  

Cake Layers

  • 2 whole oranges for the zest and fresh orange juice
  • cups dried cranberries or fresh cranberries, washed/dried and cut into halves,
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 15.25 ounces white cake mix
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped

Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup salted sweet cream butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ¼ cup walnuts finely chopped, optional garnish

Instructions
 

Cake Layers

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of two (8-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with Baker’s Joy or a generic version.
  • Using a fruit zester, zest 2 oranges. Once you have the zest, cut 1 orange in half and squeeze for the orange juice. Set it aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl, sprinkle the 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour over the cranberries, and stir to coat. Set it aside.
  • Using a medium size mixing bowl and a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the cake mix, vegetable oil, water, orange juice, eggs and orange zest just until the ingredients are well combined.
  • Fold in the coated cranberries and walnuts.
  • Evenly divide the cake batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cakes to completely cool.

Frosting

  • Using a medium size mixing bowl and a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract for 1 minute.
  • Lower the mixer speed to low, add the orange zest, heavy cream and powdered sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 1 to 1½ minutes, until the frosting is smooth.

Cake Assembly

  • Remove the bottom layer cake from it’s pan and place it on a serving plate. Using a silicone spatula, or an offset spatula, evenly spread a layer of frosting onto the cake.
  • Remove the top layer cake from it’s pan and evenly spread a thicker layer of icing on top, and then spread the frosting around the sides of the cake, smoothing as you frost.
  • Once the cake is frosted, you can evenly sprinkle the finely chopped walnuts on top of the cake. (This is an optional decoration.)

Notes

PRO TIP: Using cake strips around the cake pans can help ensure the cake layers bake level.
 
PRO TIP: Coating the cranberries in flour will help keep them suspended in the cake batter and not sink to the bottom.
PRO TIP: Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature so that you don’t end up with lumps in your frosting.

Nutrition

Calories: 6675kcal | Carbohydrates: 850g | Protein: 86g | Fat: 361g | Saturated Fat: 137g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 102g | Monounsaturated Fat: 93g | Trans Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 1093mg | Sodium: 5352mg | Potassium: 3490mg | Fiber: 39g | Sugar: 624g | Vitamin A: 8080IU | Vitamin C: 226mg | Calcium: 1315mg | Iron: 29mg
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