Cranberry Christmas Cake is a magical winter wonderland studded with fresh cranberries and warming winter spices. This post is sponsored by Challenge Butter, but all opinions are 100% my own.
There are so many things to love about the holiday season. The music, the cheerful decor, and all of the food. And while December 25th is a much anticipated day in our house, my favorite holiday moments are the Sunday mornings spent in the kitchen—baking with my kids. We usually go to Albertsons first thing in the morning and pick out all of our ingredients together which always includes Challenge Butter for baking. The kids love to stroll the aisles and come up with new, fun ideas.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that baking is front and center during the holidays here at The Seaside Baker. And while I love to whip up all sorts of fabulous holiday fare, what I really cherish most about holiday baking is spending quality time with my kids. After all, being with the ones you love is what the holiday season is all about. Spending Sunday mornings together, wearing our cozy pajamas and fuzzy slippers. Those are the memories I truly treasure.
What’s The Best Butter To Use In Cake
Here’s the thing. When baking with your kids, you have to embrace the imperfections and focus on the quality time. While I can almost guarantee that the cake will not look like one purchased from a bakery, it will taste good and the kids will be proud. When you use quality ingredients such as Challenge Butter, you are sure to have a deliciously creamy cake! They have been churning butter for over 100 years using the freshest, purest cream from California dairy farms. It’s real butter that you can taste the difference, especially in this Cranberry Christmas Cake.
I love using Challenge butter in other recipes like caramel, pies, and cookies.
Why You’ll Love Cranberry Christmas Cake
When it comes to holiday baking, most people think of cookies. And we certainly make plenty of those throughout the season. But I find that baking a layer cake, like this Cranberry Christmas Cake, is an activity that the kids really enjoy. My son came up with this idea, and I let him roll with it.
Baking a cake means allowing plenty of time for it to cool before frosting and decorating. So, we get to have fun making cocoa and playing a card game or two. A few rounds of competitive games can really make the time fly, so before we know it—it’s time to start to decorate.
We’ve crafted all sorts of delightful holiday cakes over the years, but this version, with its wintery white landscape, is really stunning. They wanted a whimsical winter wonderland style cake. Sounds fancy, but I’m sure it was based off of holiday movies. The kids love deciding exactly where to place each tree and cranberry. And of course, the final touch—covering the trees in “sparkly snow”—was their very favorite part.
With our first holiday baking Sunday coming right up, I’m off to my local Albertsons to stock up on all the essentials. Flour, sugar, eggs, and lots and lots of unsalted Challenge butter. Plus, fresh cranberries—which lend a nice burst of tartness to this cake. And eggnog, which gives the sweet vanilla bean buttercream frosting just a hint of spice.
More Holiday Baking Recipes
Like this Cranberry Christmas Cake and want more fun holiday baking with kids ideas? Try my Gingerbread Village Layer Cake, Red Velvet Christmas Cake, and these Ombre Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookies.
- 1 cup unsalted Challenge butter room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 cups unsalted Challenge butter room temperature
- 1 vanilla bean scraped or 1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 3-4 tablespoons cream
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cranberries fresh
- 1/3 cup sugar for coating
- 3 ice cream cones
- 2 tablespoons frosting
- 2 tablespoons silver sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat together butter, oil, and sugar until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly before each addition. Stir in vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients, except the cranberries.
Gradually alternate adding the dry mixture and the buttermilk to the butter/egg mixture (3 flour additions, 2 buttermilk additions), mixing only until just combined. After all the ingredients have been added, stir in cranberries.
Evenly spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake cakes for 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted in the center and comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Beat butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. With the beaters running on low, gradually powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of eggnog. Increase mixer speed to high and beat frosting until airy, about 5 minutes. If frosting is still too stiff, add the additional tablespoon of cream.
Combine sugar and water in a small pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Once simmering, remove from heat and cool syrup for 10 minutes.
Place cranberries in a large bowl and pour the syrup over the top. Stir gently to coat all the cranberries with the syrup. Let cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Once cranberries have steeped, and are now cold, drain into a colander. Place sanding sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries in small batches, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let cranberries sit at room temperature until dry, about 1 hour. Store cranberries in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to one week.
If necessary, cut off cake domes using a serrated knife to level.
Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate.
Top cake with 2/3 cup of frosting. Repeat with remaining layers then frost the outer sides of the cake.
Use remaining icing to coat the ice cream cones. Sprinkle with silver sprinkles and place on cake. Top with frosted cranberries.