My Cranberry Breakfast Cake is an easy one bowl snack that can be made with fresh cranberries or frozen, but don’t let the simplicity fool you, the sweet/tart cranberries pack a flavorful punch! It’s what you’re bringing to every occasion on your social calendar this season.
I highly recommend making this cranberry breakfast cake with the first cranberries you spot at the supermarket.
Hey guys! Popping in today to share a fun snack cake with you, it’s the sort of thing you’re definitely going to want to whip up on repeat this season ~ on crisp fall weekend mornings and for all your holiday brunches. Every time I bake with cranberries I fall in love all over again, they have the brightest flavor of any berry. Did you know that when you bake them they lose all that sharp astringency you get with raw cranberries? They do a complete 180 in the oven and it’s magical.
Raw cranberries baked up in this coffee cake have a lovely raspberry-like flavor ~ don’t be afraid of them!
This easy one bowl cranberry cake is based on my super popular Rhubarb Breakfast Cake which so many of you have made and loved.
I’ve always drooled over my friend Mary’s Cranberry Christmas Cake, and it inspired me to create my own. We share a passion for fresh cranberries, and I get just as excited for the start of the season as I do with high summer tomatoes or corn. Any day now you’re going to see fresh cranberries in your supermarket, and I beg you not to wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy them. Grab as many bags as you can fit in your cart, and just like that, you’ve got your holiday baking responsibilities sorted. It’s a good feeling 🙂
Want to know a secret? I use almond and vanilla extracts in the batter, it’s a combination I can’t get enough of.
I love that you get a little bit of both flavors, and the combo has its own unique effect. The next time you bake, give it a try.
How to freeze cranberries
Cranberries freeze easier than almost any other fruit ~ they will last the year in your freezer and come out looking just like the day they went in!
- The easiest way, and the way I do it, is to stack the bags of fresh cranberries, just as they come from the store, in the back of my freezer where they’ll stay nice and cold and perfect for up to a year.
- If you feel the need to wash your berries, do it before you freeze them. Make sure they are completely dry before filling zip lock freezer bags or storage containers.
The minute fresh cranberries make it to market I stash a bunch of bags in the back of my freezer, I have a whole section dedicated to it, and I especially love being able to bake with them through the long winter months after the holidays.
The holidays may come and go, but my cranberry cravings stick around all winter long.
How to use frozen cranberries
Since fresh cranberries aren’t available just yet in my store, I used last year’s berries for today’s cake, straight from the freezer.
- For most recipes all you need to do is remove the frozen berries and use them from frozen, no need to thaw. They make a perfect substitute in any recipe that features berries, for instance.
I topped this cranberry breakfast cake with a shower of sparkling sugar ~ this stuff glitters like diamonds!
It’s unlike any other sugar. I sprinkle some on before and after baking for extra glitz and the little bit of added sweet crunch is fabulous on this cake.
What is sparkling sugar?
- sparkling sugar, aka extra coarse or decorating sugar, is a coarse grained white sugar, specially made to decorate baked treats because it doesn’t disappear or melt during baking. Use it when you want some serious glitter on your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.
- I think sparkling sugar is the perfect garnish for cookies because it gives a great decorative look without being uncomfortably coarse to eat.
Other ways to use sparkling sugar
Aside from sprinkling it onto the tops of cakes like this cranberry cake, there are lots of other ways to make use of this sparkly magic…
- Roll the edges of slice and bake cookies before baking.
- Top sugar cookies before baking.
- Sprinkle on scones before baking.
- Add to frosted or glazed surfaces while they’re still wet.
Let me know if you make this cake, I’m dying to hear what you think!
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More cranberry recipes to love ~
- Cranberry Gingersnap Pie ~ this is a showstopper that belongs on your holiday dessert table, period.
- Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Bars ~ one of my personal favorite recipes, it combines homemade cranberry curd, walnuts, and shortbread ~ what’s not to love?
- Better Than Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bread ~ I love Starbucks, don’t get me wrong, but nothing compares to home baked cranberry bread. Nothing.
- Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Butter ~ this one is as irresistible as it is gorgeous, and you haven’t lived until you’ve slathered some on a hot biscuit. Put it out on the Thanksgiving table and watch it disappear.
Cranberry Breakfast Cake
- 9x9 square baking pan
- parchment paper (optional)
- 1/2 cup half and half, or a combination of milk and cream (116 grams)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick, or 113 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (214 grams)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour (256 grams)
- 2 cups whole cranberries, you can use frozen, but don't thaw.
- 2 Tbsp sparkling sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly spray a 9x9 inch baking pan. I like to line mine with a 2 sheets of parchment paper with long ends, so I can lift it out later for easy slicing.
- Mix the half and half with lemon juice and set aside.
- Cream the soft butter and sugar together for about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of your bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. This step helps lighten and aerate the cake.
- Beat in the egg and extracts, followed by the baking powder and salt, and keep scraping that bowl.
- Lower your mixer speed and blend in 1/2 the flour, just until it's almost all blended, then add the half and half, and finally the rest of the flour. Just blend until the flour is incorporated, and then stop.
- Gently fold in the cranberries, making sure to get them evenly distributed but not crushed. If you like you can reserve a handful of cranberries to pop onto the top of the cake before baking.
- Spread the batter (it will be quite thick) evenly into your pan. Add your extra cranberries to the surface of the cake, pushing them in gently.
- Sprinkle the sparkling sugar over the surface of the cake and then bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until risen, golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter on it. Try not to over bake the cake, and check on the early side, especially if your oven runs hot.
- Let cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan, then, if you used parchment, you can remove the cake to cool completely, or slice while still slightly warm.
- Store the leftover cake in the pan on the counter covered with foil.