Cranberry Christmas Cake

Another Christmas has come and gone… and the events of this holiday season add to the rich fabric of memories that are ours to relive and enjoy in our hearts and minds for years yet to come.  In the midst of preparations for Christmas 2010 I thought back to Christmases past.. and the wonderful palate pleasing delights that have made Christmas CHRISTMAS.  As we grew as a family in the Midwest Christmas Eve was always celebrated at our house.  Following the Christmas Eve services the house would fill with grandparents and aunts and uncles as Mom heated the traditional kettle of oyster stew.  I must admit that at that young age I was never thrilled at the thought of swallowing an oyster but I did love the crisp and crunchy oyster crackers that floated in the buttery stew!  Following the stew came dozens of Christmas cookies that we kids had helped Mom decorate during the days leading up to Christmas.  The piece de resistance, however, was the Christmas tea ring, a glorious sweet yeast bread bearing resemblance to a wreath, slathered with royal icing and red and green sugars… a sight that would make Santa salivate, without a doubt!  Another Christmas favorite was Mom’s Cranberry Christmas Cake, a simple white cake jam-packed with whole unsweetened cranberries and served with a warm butter sauce… delicious!  The butter sauce contained a touch of vinegar which gave it an unexpectedly delightful tanginess.  Reflecting back on that lovely dessert I decided to make some modifications.  The first decision was to flavor the butter sauce with spirits.  Although there is no way of knowing for sure I suspect that the original recipe contained spirits of some sort that were probably substituted due to the religious beliefs and convictions of generations gone by.  Secondly, rather than baking the cake in a square baking pan I wanted a rich buttery cake that could be baked in a tube pan.  The cake recipe was subsequently modified with the addition of eggs, sour cream and plenty of sweet cream butter.  The result…?  Cranberry Christmas Cake with Grand Marnier Butter Sauce.

Cranberry Christmas Cake with Grand Marnier Butter Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan:

Sift together in a medium bowl and set aside:

  • 2 1/2 C cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle add:

  • 3/4 C (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 C granulated sugar

Cream until light and fluffy, 3 – 4 minutes.  Add, beating well after each addition:

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature


  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/4 C sour cream

Mix well to thoroughly incorporate.  Turn mixer to low speed and add:

  • the flour mixture

Mix until dry ingredients are just combined:

With a spatula gently fold in:

  • 1 12 oz package fresh cranberries

Spoon the batter evenly into the 10-inch tube pan:

Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean:

Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.  Prior to service dust with powdered sugar using a sieve for even distribution:

For the butter sauce add to a small sauce pan:

  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Whisk over moderately high heat until hot and bubbly.  Remove from heat, continuing to whisk until bubbling stops.  Add, stirring well to incorporate:

  • 1 – 2 T Grand Marnier

Spoon over individual slices of cranberry cake or transfer to a small pitcher for your guests to serve themselves.  The combination of tangy cranberries and the rich orange overtones of Grand Marnier make this a grand dessert to serve for any occasion.  Since fresh cranberries are not always in season we suggest purchasing an extra bag or two when they are and placing them in your freezer for those occasions when this delightful dessert would be the perfect finishing touch for that special get together… Bon Appetit!

Copyright 2011 Via Aurea Designs Inc., All Rights Reserved


Categories: Cakes

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!


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2 Comments on “Cranberry Christmas Cake”

  1. Beth
    January 3, 2011 at 2:21 PM #

    Okay, why would I be surprised that you would take an already wonderful dessert and elevate it to a new and more delicious level?

    I wish I’d been there to taste it!


  2. James
    January 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM #

    The cake though familiar was elevated to the sublime with your butter sauce. It was one of the best cakes I’ve had in years. Great for Christmas, Valentines Day, any time there’s a reason to eat cake. james

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