This cake, oh my gosh this cake! It’s a Cranberry Orange Spice Cake with Citrus Cream Cheese and every single bite is amazing. I may, on occasion, be prone to superlatives and exaggeration . . . but, dead serious right now, this cake is THE BEST.
I made this cake. Now I am ready for Christmas.
No, really. I feel like even if I don’t finish anything else on my holiday to-do list, I can make this cake and serve it for Christmas and all will be well. Not that I’m trying to pat myself on the back, but this really is a perfect cake.
In general, cakes can really stress me out. Though I enjoy baking, I wouldn’t say cakes are my forte and I’ve had a lot of mishaps when attempting cake recipes – cakes that don’t rise, cakes with giant sink holes in the middle, cakes that fall apart when you try to take them out of the pan, and cakes that look fine but are crumbly and dry and nobody really wants to eat them. So, I worked hard on this recipe because I wanted a really perfect cake and a recipe that even all the not-so-great-cake-makers like myself can pull off. The pressure was on.
And Voila! Here it is!
Oh Christmas Cake, Oh Christmas Cake, how lovely are thy berries. . . Just a little Christmasy Cake Carol I’m working on. This cake is the sort that inspires songs and such.
But in all seriousness, it’s so good. It’s my favorite flavor combination this time of year – Cranberry + Orange = Love. And their juices seep in to the cake and it’s tender and flavorful like a proper spice cake should be. The citrus cream cheese layer bakes into the top and it’s kind of a frosting-notfrosting sort of thing that is hard to describe but will make your mouth smile as soon as you taste it. And it’s gorgeous, which makes it the centerpiece of any holiday table – it’s like a holiday decoration all on its own. This is THE CAKE, I’m telling you.
Don’t be fooled by it’s delicious, gorgeous cake face either. It is NOT HARD to make. I made it for my mother’s birthday this week and I had to make it happen with a kid home from school (mental health day) and a baby who refused to take a nap and still, even without a proper baker’s love and attention, it was perfect. Just follow the directions and you should be fine, even without any special cake maker certificates.
Now let’s just look at the cake for a minute and imagine each cheesy, gooey, juicy, spicy, sweet (yep, it really is all these things) bite. Prepare yourself:
And did I tell you about how the cake, though it’s very tender, gets this thin, crispy -ish crust just a little along the upper edges? That might very well be my favorite part.
This is on my Christmas menu, and all other holiday occasions that I can justify making this Cranberry Orange Spice Cake for. I’m giving you all this recipe with my highest recommendation.
Happy Holidays my favorite blog readers!
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup molasses
- 1 cup orange juice (no pulp)
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 clementine, peeled and sliced into rounds, plus the zest of two clementines
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- 1 tablespoon flour
- powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Grease a 9 inch spring form cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together with an electric mixture until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides and add in 2 eggs and the vanilla. Beat for 1 minute. Stir in the molasses with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add in half of the flour mixture, stirring until just combined, followed by half of the orange juice, stirring again until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour and juice. Pour cake batter in prepared pan and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together the remaining egg, softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoon flour, ¼ cup sugar, and citrus zest. Mix until completely smooth then spread evenly and gently over the top of the cake batter.
- Place the frozen cranberries in a food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times until the cranberries are coarsely chopped, but not too fine (see pictures above). Sprinkle the cranberries over the top of the cake. Lay the clementine rounds over the top of the cake as well.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until cake is set. When the cake is done the center may still be slightly jiggly (not too jiggly) because of the cream cheese, however, if you insert a long pick into the center of the cake it should only come out with cream cheese on it and not any cake batter.
- Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before releasing spring form. Let it cool for another 25 minutes before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.