Semi-Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake

Recipe Pin
1 hour 20 minutes
12 large slices

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This Semi-Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is deliciously moist, bursting with holiday flavors, and the perfect seasonal sour cream cake. The combination of sweet oranges and tart cranberries makes my kitchen smell like a giant orange pomander.

large plate on a pedestal

It’s a breeze to make because it all starts with a box of yellow cake mix. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, around the holidays, I am lucky just to get everything done in time for guests and giving, let alone do it all from scratch. So, my secret is out. I buy box cake mix, too, and this is what I do with it.

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If you are pressed for time and could benefit from a time-saving and show-stopping dessert, take a moment to rest here on the pages of Not Entirely Average, and read to the recipe. I am thrilled to be sharing this go to cake recipe that never fails to impress. Consider this my Christmas gift to YOU! Semi-Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is one the best holiday cakes you’ll ever bake!

The combination of sweet oranges and tart cranberries makes my kitchen smell like a giant orange pomander.

Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is one the best tasting holiday cakes you’ll ever bake. 

I can nearly guarantee that every ingredient in this recipe for Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is already in your pantry. Well, all except for the cranberries maybe. Cranberries are not something I tend to keep on hand, fresh or frozen. But before you head out to buy them, keep in mind that this recipe works well with any kind of berry really.

It’s a show-stopper with cranberries around the holidays. And I’d be remiss if I neglected to give a nod to my new Nordic Ware cast Bundt pan.

The heavyweight cast aluminum yields a picture-perfect and thorough bake every time. When this one arrived a few months back, I knew it was time to toss my thin metaled classic bundt I set up home with so many years ago. Heavy cast aluminum is a game-changer. Or is it a bake-changer? Hmmm…

A cake with fruit on a plate, with Cranberry

When this cast bundt pan arrived a few months back, I knew it was time to toss my thin metaled classic bundt I set up home with so many years ago.

In terms of flavor, this is like a moist, slice-able Sweet Tart candy. The tartness of the cranberries is perfectly offset by the orange zest both in and on the cake. The use of three extra large eggs is necessary for both fat and stability.

Once mixed, you will find the batter VERY loose. Don’t fret. This bakes up with the moderate density you’d expect from a sour cream cake, uniquely spongy in appearance, and with a beautifully textured interior. The sugared cranberries stud the flute and give a delightful pop of sour!

A plate of food on a table, with Cake and Berry

Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake bakes up with the moderate density you’d expect from a sour cream cake, and with a beautifully textured interior.

To really amp up the orange flavor here, I add a combination of orange extract and orange zest.  If you cannot find orange extract, use the zest of two oranges, divided. Buy fresh cranberries. I prefer them fresh for any recipe I make with cranberries. Add them whole.  They are crazy delicious and look entirely gorgeous freckled throughout the cake.

A quick note about your berries not sinking to the bottom during the bake – I begin with berries in the Bundt pan BEFORE I add my berry-studded batter. And my berry-studded batter is studded with berries that have been tossed in flour. Here we go with the science again, but trust me when I tell you that doing this will save the look of your plated slice. We are going for equitable distribution of berries here.

A bowl of fruit on a plate, with Cranberry and Christmas cake

Whole cranberries are crazy delicious and look entirely gorgeous freckled throughout the cake.

I use this recipe whenever I am pressed for time, and I need to whip up a quick cake for decorating. When considering which brand of sour cream, I choose something particularly THICK. With the addition of a few fresh ingredients, Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake tastes almost 100% homemade.

Cake and Orange

Ingredients for Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake

  • yellow cake mix
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • extra large eggs
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • sour cream
  • vanilla extract
  • zest of one orange
  • fresh cranberries
  • butter
Cake and Cranberry
large plate on a pedestal

Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake

Jenny DeRemer
This Semi-Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is deliciously moist, bursting with holiday flavors, and the perfect seasonal sour cream cake. The combination of sweet oranges and tart cranberries makes my kitchen smell like a giant orange pomander.
5 from 3 votes
Servings: 12 large slices
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, International
Servings 12 large slices
Calories 285 kcal

Equipment

  • 12 cup Bundt pan

Ingredients
 

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 ⅓ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of one orange
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries divided (plus 1 tablespoon flour)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Sugaring The Cranberries

  • 1 cup sugar divided
  • ½ cup water
  • remaining fresh cranberries

Creamy layer

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar sifted
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract or can substitute with zest of 1 orange

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.

Baking The Cake

  • Grease a 10 to 12″ bundt pan with the tablespoon of melted butter. Flour lightly and tap pan on counter upside down to remove almost all excess flour.
  • Combine the cake mix and the flour and salt and whisk together. Add wet ingredients and beat until just combined.
  • Toss half of the cranberries with a tablespoon of flour and gently fold them into the batter.
  • Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Note that different bundt pans will yield different bake times, so test in several areas for doneness.
  • Remove from the oven, and cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Sugaring The Cranberries

  • Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in cranberries and remove from heat quickly.
  • Using a slotted spoon to remove from the sugarwater, toss the cranberries in the remaining sugar until well coated. Allow about 10-ish minutes to harden.

Stirring Together A Snowy Glaze

  • In a bowl mix confectioners sugar, heavy cream, and orange extract until smooth. I prefer my glaze thick, so I begin with ONLY 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, stir, and add only if my glaze is not able to easily be drizzled. I use a tiny whisk for this step to ensure I break up any lumps.
  • Drizzle over top of cake, allowing the snowy glaze to run down on the sides. Top cake with sugared cranberries, and add a few fresh greens to accentuate a festive feel.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Calories: 285kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 2gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 227mgPotassium: 51mgFiber: 1gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 140IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 1mg
Did you love this recipe?Leave a comment and Let me know how it was!
5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Recipe Rating




11 Comments

  1. I love the way this looks, and it sounds like it would be heavenly! I am going to attempt to make this for our church Thanksgiving meal this weekend. Will let you know how it goes, so wish me luck! I have an older style Bundt pan so it will look a little bit different but I think it will work just fine. I so love trying new and different recipes, I also am a big lover of cranberries. Will let you know how it goes! I gave the rating on just the picture alone 🙂5 stars

    1. Cindy, today is my birthday. Receiving this sweet message has MADE MY DAY! I absolutely cannot say enough about this cake. I have baked it a dozen times so far. The last time I baked it, I poked holes in it and saturated it with equal parts spiced rum and melted unsalted butter, and it was Heavenly. I know your eaters will enjoy it. Don’t be shy about adding a few additional cranberries because they really keep it moist. Let me know what you think! x- Jenny

  2. which bundt pan is this? The reflection of the light blocks the pan name. It looks like the Nordic Ware Lotus though am not 100% sure. Please advise.

  3. I made this cake for a silent auction and it brought in $50 & lots of compliments. The buyer said it was very delicious5 stars

    1. Marisa…!!! YOU GO GIRL! This comment makes me so happy! Thank you for taking the time to jump on the site and leave this message for me, and Merry Christmas! x – Jenny

  4. I am ready to make this pretty cake. I do not find any “print” option..? I am going to try adding Grand Marniea. Thanks

    1. Barbara, I am so pleased you will make this cake – IT’S DELICIOUS! I apologize to you, as this is one of my first recipes, there is no print option as yet. I update old recipes as I can, and this one just hasn’t made it to the top of my list yet. Let me know how it works with the Grand Mariner! Would love to smell your kitchen in about 40 minutes…

  5. looks yummy Jenny and plan on trying it. Wondering if it’s possible to substitute plain Greek Yogurt for the sour cream? Have you ever tried that? Oh, one more question, while the bundt pan you mentioned looks beautiful I’m assuming my regular bundt pan will work too. Don’t bake enough to warrant the expense and recently purchased a new bundt pan just to have on hand. Thanks for responding and Merry Christmas!

    1. AnneMarie, so happy for your kind message, and great questions! Somebody else just asked me about using yogurt. I have never tried it with this recipe, however, since the addition of a fat is meant to add moisture to the batter throughout the bake, I feel confident it would come out just as fantastic. I would make sure it was at least partial, but more toward full fat yogurt. In terms of the bundt pan, I have been baking this recipe for about eight or so years now, and using my old bundt pan the entire time. I only recently splurged on this new one, and LOVED how it turned out visually, and baked all the way through. My old traditional anniversary bundt was thin metal, and although it got the job done, if I was not careful, it could dry my cake out before it was baked completely on the inside. So I learned to adjust my oven temperature for that bundt pan. Sounds silly, but I think you probably know what I mean. Please, please if you make this with the yogurt and in your current pan, let me know how it turns out. If you are able to muster a photo or two, I would LOVE to see them. I am so excited you may try this!!