Cranberry & Orange Buttermilk Breakfast Cake
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This cranberry and orange buttermilk breakfast cake is a great one to add to your holiday baking repertoire. It takes 10 minutes to prepare, and the batter can be stashed in the fridge and baked in the morning. What’s more, it serves 8 to 10 people (or even more if doubled), so it’s great for holiday entertaining.
In an effort to figure out what to bake on Christmas morning, I turned to an old standby, buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake, and swapped cranberries for the blueberries, orange zest for the lemon, and increased the sugar a teensy bit. It worked beautifully!
Not too sweet, festively studded with cranberries, this cake is a wonderful Christmas morning treat. Best of all, you can prepare the batter the night before and bake the cake in the morning. If you’re not a cranberry fan, you can use frozen blueberries, which work beautifully here, too.
5 Favorite Make-Ahead Cakes
Store batter in a tupperware overnight, then transfer to prepared pan in the morning:Print
Cranberry & Orange Buttermilk Breakfast Cake
- Total Time: 60 minutes
- Yield: 8 to 10
Notes: This recipe is essentially the Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake recipe but with cranberries swapped for the blueberries.
I’ve increased the sugar to 1 cup (from 7/8 cup) b/c cranberries are a bit tart and substituted orange zest for the lemon zest. If you don’t like cranberries, many people have had luck with frozen blueberries. Also, this batter can be prepared the night before.
Don’t store it in the pan you plan on baking it in — store it in tupperware of some sort, then transfer to a greased pan in the morning.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- the zest from 1 orange zest
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 cups (256 g) flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with orange zest and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the cranberries.
- Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes, then check for doneness by touching the top gently or by inserting a toothpick. If necessary, return pan to oven, check every five minutes or so — it took my cake a little bit over 45 minutes to cook. (Note: Baking for as long as 50 minutes might be necessary, especially if you made the batter in advance.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Cake
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: breakfast, cake, buttermilk, cranberry, orange, brunch, holidays
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
344 Comments on “Cranberry & Orange Buttermilk Breakfast Cake”
I don’t have access to buttermilk in these parts – any suggestions for a substitute?
we I a tablespoons of white or cidar vinegar then enough milk to make a cup and let sit for 5 or 10 min.
Go to your search engine look up “how to make buttermilk” really easy…hope that helps
put a tablespoon of vinegar in your milk and that makes buttermilk
You can get powdered buttermilk at most grocery stores. It works great and stores forever in the fridge once you open it.
Lemon juice will also make milk into buttermilk. 🙂
I always use the SACO powdered”cultured buttermilk blend” found in the baking section at the grocery store. The container gives the amount of buttermilk blend to use, according to your recipe. Mix dry buttermilk blend in with other dry ingredients then add appropriate amount of water when recipe calls for liquid buttermilk. Very convenient.
Very convenient! Love this idea.
It really is a great recipe – the plum version I made was delicious!
oopsie nevermind – there is this yogurty drink called “laban” in the middle east that is very similar to buttermilk. weird that i would never drink buttermilk but drink laban regularly. as does shep 🙂
Batesers, one, so glad you have laban and that you and Shep are staying healthy hydrating with all of those live bacteria cultures — I’m sure the laban will work just as buttermilk does. Two, I’ve never tried this, but one of the commenters on the blueberry buttermilk breakfast cake, said this:
An easy substitution for butter milk is to add a 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar (give or take) to your measuring cup, then add the milk up to the correct amount. Let it sit on the counter while you gather everything else, and it works just about the same as buttermilk in recipes. Use it all the time for pancakes (1 tablespoon for 1 cup of milk is the normal guideline I use).
This looks delicious! I would love if you shared this in my holiday dessert recipes Blog Hop. We’re giving away a prize from Wilton to the blogger with the most “likes”, come check it out! 🙂
Sarah @ RecipeLion
Love your blog! Nice finding you! Visit me at: my-greek-cooking.blogspot.com
I’m not a seasoned cook, care to teach me how to cream the butter, orange zest and 1 cup sugar? I’d love to make this for my in laws on Christmas morning and wow them! 🙂
Jen — Make sure the butter is at room temperature, and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you are using a hand-held mixer). Add the orange zest and sugar and beat on high until the mixture is light and fluffy, That’s it! Let me know if you have any more questions!
I love your blueberry version! Must try this soon.
I so enjoy seeing what people are going to eat Christmas morning. Your family will be thrilled to enjoy this festive treat.
Als! I have a real creaming butter question for making this over the xmas weekend. I’ve always thought that letting the butter get to room temp messes up the airiness, so I torture my standing mixer into creaming cool butter. Have I been effing up!?!?!?
Merry xmas, xoxo.
Hi Jon!! You’re poor stand mixer! You’ve totally been effing up. I’m just kidding. Truthfully, I don’t know. I’ve always been told to let the butter come to room temperature before creaming but that’s probably mostly to go easy on the stand mixer — it gets light and fluffy faster, too. Have you noticed a difference? Or have you never let your butter get to room temperature? I’m so curious now. This is a question for Harold McGee. As for your baking this weekend, try letting your butter get to room temp this time. I always do with this particular recipe and it comes out just fine. Merry Xmas to you!! xoxo
Oh, wow, this looks delicious! We’re going to try it for Christmas morning! Quick question: if we make the batter the night before, should it be refrigerated or kept at room temperature overnight? Thanks so much for the wonderful recipes!!
Donia — I would refrigerate the batter just to be safe. I baked mine after it had been in the fridge all night, and it took about 45 minutes and I didn’t let it get to room temperature before baking it. Hope that helps!
I think I’m going to try this recipe but am curious as to how much orange flavor the zest gives? I was hoping to make some sort of cranberry/orange combo nut want to be able to taste both. Thanks!
Hi Jess — The orange flavor is pretty subtle. I was surprised actually how subtle it was, and I used the zest of a whole orange. I’m going to make a note about that above. If you want more orange flavor, you could either add more orange zest or perhaps some orange-flavored booze like Cointreau? In place of some of the buttermilk? Or, and I saw this on a Martha Stewart episode with Dori Greenspan, you could mix the orange zest with the sugar first and sort of massage the ingredients together before creaming the sugar with the butter — apparently this step helps release some of the oils in the zest and helps really increase the detectability of the zest in the final baked good. Haven’t tried it personally, but would be curious.
I was wondering if you use all purpose flour or self rising. I am assuming all purpose but you know what happens with assuming lol 🙂
Wow! What a Great recipe. I mixed this dish up Christmas Eve and baked it the next morning and it was fantastic! We loved it so much I had to make it again 4 days later. When I started pulling my ingredients I found myself short of a few items and had to make some substitutions and it came out just as great. I only had 1 cup of fresh cranberries so I added 1 cup of frozen blueberries for the other cup of cranberries (because the blueberries were frozen it kept the cake creamy white and did not turn the batter purple. I had no orange to zest so I used 1t of pure orange extract (could have used more). Because this is such a good recipe I can’t wait to try it with other fruit. (blackberries, red raspberries, peaches, etc.)
Thank you so much 🙂
So happy to hear this Stacy! Thanks for writing in!
Can I do this as muffins so I can bring it to work more easily?
It would be a great treat for my co-workers.
Beth — yes, definitely, I’ve made the blueberry variation of this cake as muffins, and it worked beautifully. Good luck with it!
I ended up making this in a rectangular Ikea glass baking dish instead of as mini muffins since the cranberries would have been hit or miss (some muffins might not have had any).
I am grateful for your pictures, because I wouldn’t have been sure this was coming out right without the pictures. I appreciate your website.
The office was very happy when I walked in with goodies for them. I served it with some really good butter, but if I had to do it again, I think I would make some honey butter to go with it.
I will make this again – maybe with blueberries or a mix or just cranberries. I will do something to amp up the orange a bit though. Or maybe my orange was just too old.
Thanks for reporting back, Beth! I love the idea of honey butter — I think that would complement the tartness of the cranberries nicely. A mix of berries would be nice, too. And I agree about the orange zest — it’s a little too subtle. I don’t think your orange was too old. I found the flavor to be very faint and would have liked it more detectable. Thanks again for writing in!
Delicious! I followed the instructions to a t and baked. It a total of 45 minutes. The whole family loved it. Love your recipes! The duck is next on my list…..
Thank you, Mary. So glad the cake came out well for you. Do try the duck…it’s so yummy!
This looks fantastic! We’ve got a potluck at work coming up and we’re doing “brunch”. This would be perfect for that. I have frozen cranberries. Will they work okay in this? Thanks!
Candace — I’ve never used frozen, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t work. Many people who have made the blueberry version of this cake have had success using frozen blueberries. I don’t see why it would be any different for cranberries. Good luck with it!
I found this on Pintrest and was most excited because of the amount of blueberries in it (via the picture.) I love blueberry things but I am tired of the same old blah blueberry taste/balance in most pastries. This recipe totally delivered. Two whole cups of blueberries!!?? The battery was so thick I was worried about it but I realized it was because of so much moisture that would be released by so many blueberries. It turns into a perfect perfect bread!!!
I used blueberries and didn’t have an orange (or zest) and I didn’t have vanilla(!!), do I used lemon extract instead and it made a surprisingly sharp tasting lemon blueberry bread!! So versatile. Thank you! Can’t wait to try the cranberry version when holidays roll back around!
I just did this for the Ripon Garden Club,and it disappeared,I had bags of frozen cranberries and just defrosted one.It turned out yummy.a little comment,I actually had made one the day before for the Seniors at church and found cooking it the day of serving it was super crumbly,so I cooked the second one the night before and it sliced up beautifully the next day.Kudos to you Alexandra,I only just recently found you on Pinterest,and you have a diehard fan.Your pictures and attention to detail are admirable.Am searching here for an appetizer to take for Easter.Happy holiday,and thank you soooo much.Kim
I’m so glad to hear this! Thanks for the tip about making it in advance — I noticed the crumbly texture, too, when it is freshly baked.
If you are looking for an appetizer for Easter, these are so good, so easy and always a huge hit: https://alexandracooks.com/2012/02/24/cheese-sticks-for-oscar-night/
This looks so delicious.
I mixed up a batch and it’s in my oven right now, only I am attempting to modify it to be gluten-free, as my 2 year old is gluten-intolerant. I hope it works out because this sounds delicious, and makes use of the cranberries I threw into my freezer months ago!
Abigail — How did the gluten-free version turn out? Would you care to share your proportions?
1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar OR 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
This has come in handy in a pinch!
M — thank you! I have been meaning to add a note like this to both this recipe and the buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake.
Holy Moly! I just realized that I HAVE oranges…to zest…and blueberries that we froze after our berry picking outing earlier this past spring!!
Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!! May convert to muffins (cuz that’s just how I roll, ok really….I’ll eat the WHOLE cake if I make it.).
Hi..any chance this will still taste good it I use dried cranberries rather than fresh? Can I sub with frozen blueberries?
Daniela — so sorry for this delayed response! I can’t say how dried cranberries will work, but definitely use frozen blueberries. Many of the commenters have had great success using frozen blueberries in this buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake: https://alexandracooks.com/2011/06/29/buttermilk-blueberry-breakfast-cake/
I used the zest of two oranges and thought the orange flavor was excellent – not overwhelming, but held its own with the cranberries. I also sprinkled cinnamon sugar rather than plain sugar over the top before baking. Thanks for the recipe!
Baking Mom — Fantastic! I imagine the zest of two oranges would really add a nice flavor. And I love the idea of cinnamon and sugar over top — so much more festive!
Can this be doubled for a 9 x 13 pan or would it take too long to bake?
Just curious if this can be doubled for a 9 x 13 pan or if it would take too long to bake evenly?
Lauri — I think it will be just fine doubled and baked in a 9X13-inch pan. I have not done it, but many commenters on the blueberry buttermilk breakfast cake (https://alexandracooks.com/2011/06/29/buttermilk-blueberry-breakfast-cake/) have had success doubling it and baking it in the pan you suggest. It might take about 10 minutes longer (or more) but start checking after 35 minutes — it might take as long as 50 minutes. Good luck with it!
Made this for breakfast this morning and WOW!! I really enjoyed it.
I topped my piece with some greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup :).
It was super east and fast to whip up and 40m later it was done baking.
The only thing I will change next time, and yes there will be a next time, is the amount of sugar. I am not sure if is was because i used organic whole cane sugar , but the cranberries did over power it so that it seemed like there was no sugar in it at all.
over all this was moist and yummy!
Thank you for sharing it 🙂
Dede — SO happy to hear this! Greek yogurt and honey sound like the perfect accompaniments, especially since the sugar got overpowered 🙁 Isn’t it strange how seemingly harmless substitutions can make such a big difference. I have no experience using organic whole cane sugar, but I wouldn’t have thought that switching the two ingredients would have made any difference. That must be the case, but gosh, I am surprised. Glad to hear you will give it another go!
Could you use canned cranberries?I usually have canned but not fresh.I was just wondering how it would turn out.Thanks great recipe!
Lydia, I have never used canned, but my suggestion would be to drain and dry the cranberries before using them. Otherwise, I think they should work!
Have you ever frozen this? Does it work? Thanks! Looking forward to trying it!
Elizabeth — I have never tried freezing it, but many readers have had success freezing the buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake, which is basically the same recipe with the exception of the berry, so I imagine it would freeze well. Just wrap it well in plastic wrap and tuck it in a freezer bag, and you should be good to go. I would thaw it at room temperature and then stick it in the oven if you wish you warm it up — 350ºF for 15 or 20 minutes.
Thank you SO much for the link and comments regarding the blueberry version doubling to a 9 x 13 pan. It took just shy of 45 minutes to bake. It worked so well that I was asked to please go out on Black Friday (ugh) to grab more cranberries so that I could make it again before my family left. Amazing recipe, especially this time of the year. I highly recommend everyone try it!!
Lauri — I am so happy to hear this! And thank you so much for reporting back on the time and larger pan size. That is especially good info to know this time of year. I can’t believe you braved the Black Friday madness! My husband had to dash out as well…one of the pipes in our kitchen sink burst… so typical to happen on Thanksgiving Day. HAppy Holidays to you as well!!