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. 

Overhead shot of just-baked cranberry orange buttermilk breakfast cake.

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

  • Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
  • Teddie’s Apple Cake
  • One-Bowl Orange-Ricotta Pound Cake
  • Chez Panisse Almond Torte
  • Orange and Olive Oil Cake
  • Cranberries and orange zest on a cutting board.

    Store batter in a tupperware overnight, then transfer to prepared pan in the morning:

    Side by side images: on the left, cranberry buttermilk breakfast cake batter in a bowl; on the right, batter spread into pan, sprinkled with sugar.
    A slice of cranberry buttermilk breakfast cake.
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    An overhead shot of a just-baked cranberry and orange buttermilk breakfast cake.

    Cranberry & Orange Buttermilk Breakfast Cake

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    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


    1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with orange zest and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
    2. 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.
    3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the cranberries.
    4. 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