Cranberry & Orange Buttermilk Breakfast Cake
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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”
Wonderful – Just the right combination of sweet and tart. And the cake is tender and light. A hit!
Great to hear, Lucinda!
Just made this and it made my kitchen smell amazing! Love the holiday flavors
So nice to hear this, Jill 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing. Happy happy holidays to you.
Delicious and it looks beautiful too!
I’ve made this before and my family loves it. Have you ever made it in a bundt pan?
Hi Rebecca! Great to hear. I think you definitely could, but I feel it might be on the small side. I would consider making 1.5x the recipe and baking it in the Bundt pan.
How far in advance can you make the batter? I loveee this recipe!
Great to hear, Chelsey! I would say just one day prior to baking. Happy holidays!
My family loves this recipe! I’ve been making it for years. Do you think you can make it into muffins? I’m trying to figure out a way to make it more covid friendly ie-individual portions
Yes, absolutely! I would bake them at 375ºF for 25-30 minutes … you may want to start checking a little before 25 minutes to be safe.
20 minutes was perfect for the muffins. It made 15
Great to hear, Kelly!
Love this recipe! Simple, easy and delicious! It will become a Christmas Eve Breakfast tradition at our house.
Wonderful to hear this, KJ! Merry Christmas!!
Yummo! I used vanilla greek yogurt because that’s what I had on hand and the cake is a teeeny bit dense, i’m thinking i should’ve mixed the yogurt with a bit of milk to make it more buttermilk consistency. Definitely will try that next time as i rarely buy buttermilk anymore – it’s too bothersome to deal with the leftover after using some in one recipe. =P.
This cake is not too sweet, nicely tart, great texture, a little stodgy but i think that is user error. I look forward to having this with my coffee in the morning.
Oh lastly, thought i’d get fancy and add some turbinado sugar for the topping, and i recommend definitely using only regular sugar. The regular sugar turns into this crackly thin crust that is really nice, the turbinado just falls off the sides. 🙂
I came back to say, the cake on is even better the next day. That stodgy-ness has completely transformed into a moist almost cream-cheesy wonderfully dense goodness. Also i should add, i used fancy flour bought during early covid when the markets were out of all purpose flour.
So nice to hear all of this, Tina! Thanks so much for writing back with the update. It’s funny how cakes change on day, too. I often prefer them on the next day (especially olive oil based cakes), so it’s interesting to read this.
I rarely have buttermilk on hand either, but saw this recently: No buttermilk? No problem! Just add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup. Fill with milk to measure one cup. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, then proceed with recipe.
I started making the blueberry lemon buttermilk cake last Christmas and again this Thanksgiving. I have the orange/cranberry mix in the fridge right now ready for tomorrow morning. I already tried the batter- it was INTENSELY delicious! Can’t wait to try!!!
Yay! So nice to hear this, Melissa! Hope it was as delicious as anticipated, and I hope you had a wonderful Xmas. Wishing you a Happy New Year!!
Whipped this up in no time this morning. I didn’t have enough cranberries, but I always have fresh blueberries in my freezer. It was quick, easy, and delicious. Reminded me of scones without the mess. Husband loved it and couldn’t believe I made it so quickly. I think I left it in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Will definitely make it again.
Wonderful to hear this, Sara! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂 I love this one with blueberries, too.
This is a winner, Ali! Very easy and such a moist crumb. I will definitely make it again. Orange and cranberry is a heavenly combo. I cut down the sugar by about a tablespoon and I added about 1/2 tsp baking soda (in addition to the baking powder). I was always told that buttermilk cakes require a small amount of baking soda to interact with the buttermilk. Is that a fallacy?
Hi Peg! So great to hear this. Regarding your question: if a recipe calls for baking soda alone, there has to be some sort of acid (such as buttermilk) to activate it. Baking powder has baking soda in it as well as cream of tartar (an acid) and sometimes cornstarch. So, for this recipe, the additional baking soda may not have been necessary, but a little extra baking soda wouldn’t hurt — it’s 4x as strong as baking powder. I will never ever remember the difference between the two no matter how hard I try, but I wrote about the two on this naan post, if you ever need to reference it in the future.
Ah, thanks, Ali. I did read the Naan post and understand better now. (I think I knew this but forgot, like I do most things.). And since you are such a fan of overnight refrigeration, I see why you like to stick to baking powder.
I’m going to celebrate the new year with oven-roasted polenta and mushrooms. Thanks again for that great idea.
Truly, like the difference between Dutch-process cocoa and natural cocoa, I can’t ever remember the difference between baking powder and soda. Alas.
Yay for polenta and mushrooms! That sounds so good right now. Happy Happy New Year Peg!!
Delicious! As others have said, just the perfect combination of sweet and tart. It’s moist, tasty, and perfect with a cup of coffee. Best of all, it’s a beautiful cake! I make them as gifts for friends and family. Thank you for the recipe!
So nice to hear this 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing. What a nice gift, too.
Delicious! Flavorful, moist and not too sweet because of the cranberries. I used a 8” square baking pans and highly recommend using the 9” pan because there’s a lot of batter so my baking time increased. I will definitely make this again.
Wonderful to hear this, Eileen!
This cake is everything. It’s moist, the cranberries are tart then you get that butter cake to smooth all that tart out.. Cranberries are still relatively inexpensive when you factor in their nutritional punch. I’ve found a new snacking cake! Thank you!
Wonderful to hear this, Amber! Thanks for writing!
This was something I made a few years ago for Christmas morning for a special treat and we’ve made it a tradition every year because my family loves it so much. It is so delicious!
So nice to hear this, Sarah! Thanks so much for writing.
I made this but it lacked something maybe more sugar, I’m not sure.
I think next time I make it I will reserve some batter and add 1/2 cup more sugar and blend it with 1 cup blueberries or cranberries then I will swirl it into the original batter that has the normal ingredients.
Super easy to make and very delicious 🤤
Great to hear, Liv!
Can you use dried cranberries? No fresh cranberries this time of year.
Hi! I have not tried this, but I imagine it would be great. I might use half the amount only because dried cranberries are so sweet.
I would like to first say that I tried to read through the comments before asking, so if I overlooked this being asked, I apologize. Can you freeze this after baking for a make-ahead breakfast. For instance, mix, bake, cool, freeze, thaw the night before I want it or reheat the morning of type thing?
Yes, absolutely! I think reheating it at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes is nice. It doesn’t have to be piping hot, but I think it revives it nicely.
WOW simply the best breakfast cake ever. Alexandra you hit this cake out of the park. Delicious again Delicious beyond words. Because now its spring cranberries are seasonal and I can’t find them, and the ones online are so expensive I tried cherries and blackberries together . So darn Delicious. The cranberries are the best ,and can’t wait until the season for them is back. This is my go to breakfast cake for a lifetime 😋 ❤
Wonderful to hear this, Lynette! Cherries and blackberries sound absolutely delicious!
This is my Favorite recipe to make every year during the holidays!! I was wondering if this xan be made using a Bundt Pan/ or minis bundt pans. and also muffin pans?
So nice to hear this, Courtney!
Yes, absolutely, for the Bundt, mini bundt, and muffin pans. The key with the muffin pans and mini bundt pans is to be sure to fill the cups no higher than 3/4 full to ensure they bake properly/evenly and do not overflow.
Recipe was very easy to make and was delicious. I don’t know why it was a little crumbly. I used craisins because I didn’t have fresh cranberries. Will definitely make again. Thx for the recipe 👍😊
Great to hear, Rainie! This definitely is a bit of a crumbly cake.
If I cannot find fresh cranberry could I use frozen cranberries thawed? Christmas isn’t for two more months but I’m trying to think ahead!
Yes, absolutely! Go for it.
Do you think the addition of a diced granny smith apple would ruin the cake? I’m wanting A cranberry/apple mix but worry it might make the cake roo heavy. Has anyone tried this?
Hi Lisa! I would start small: maybe try adding 1/2 cup of peeled, diced apple and see how it turns out. It definitely will not ruin it!
Can this be made in a loaf pan?
Yes! Just be sure to not fill the pan higher than 3/4 full or the cake won’t bake properly/evenly. If you have extra batter, bake it off in little ramekins or some other small vessel.
I am making this for the first time…it looks yummy! Could I add walnuts or not recommended?
Can gluten free flour be subbed for regular flour? This sounds divine!!
I imagine it would work just fine — there are so many great brands out there now. KAF’s gluten-free baking mix is great.
Excellent! I did add 2T. of cranberry liquor to the batter. For the sugar topping I mixed granulated sugar, orange oil and orange zest and sprinkled that over the cake. Wow, was that good. If you don’t want to buy a carton of buttermilk, they sell powdered buttermilk in the baking aisle. It’s pricey but kept in the fridge it lasts forever. The directions say to mix it with water, but I always use milk. Just thought I’d throw that in.😉
Thanks so much MaryJo for all of this! Your topping sounds fabulous. Great tip re the powdered buttermilk — what a great thing to have on hand this time of year especially. Thanks for writing!
Absolutely very good…!!!
Great to hear, Pamela!
The Blueberry version is my favorite-!
Can the cranberry version be made into mini loaves? If so, what temperature/ time adjustment ans how much batter per loaf prior to baking? ie full, half full?
Yes, absolutely! No change in temperature. Fill the pans no more than 3/4 full. I would make for 25 minutes; then check every 3 to 5 minutes after that. Mini loaf pans vary in sizes, so it’s hard to give an exact time. Enjoy!