Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake

Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake-Kitchen Confidante

I dipped the tea bag up and down, my steaming drink turning a deeper shade of bronze with each plunge. When it reached just the right color, promising sips of a strong brew, I swirled in a spoonful of sugar and a stream of half and half. As I stirred, my eyes glanced over to the counter, where clean loaf pans were stacked, ready to put away. I thought to myself, I wish there was a slice left.

Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake-Kitchen Confidante-Cranberries

I’ve been obsessed with fresh cranberries this week, it’s like the holiday lightbulb finally turned on inside my head. I want to put cranberries in everything. Sauces, salads, cakes, pasta. Ok, maybe not pasta. But definitely cakes.

So I did.

Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake-Kitchen Confidante

I made a few loaves of Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake, one to send down to some friends down the street, and the other to enjoy for ourselves. I thought there might be at least a slice left to welcome my brother when he flies in tonight.


Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake-Kitchen Confidante

We ate it all. But not to worry, it’s so simple, I can make more in a jiffy. I’ll have to double my batch – after all, I think my sister would like a piece, too.

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Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake

Yield: Makes 2 10-inch loaves.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack, paired with tea or coffee, or even a rustic dessert, this cake is just right for holidays with house guests. The buttermilk batter makes for a cake that stays moist, each slice boasting a bite of tart, fresh cranberry.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk (Use good quality, thick buttermilk. Do not substitute with milk and lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups halved fresh cranberries


Place racks in the center of the oven, and preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 2 loaf pans (1.5lb loaf pans measuring 10"x5"x3") by lightly coating with baking spray (or butter), and lining with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and egg, mix well. Add the buttermilk and flour mixture in batches, alternating. Stir in the cranberries.

Divide the batter into two loaf pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden. Depending on your oven and the size of your loaf pans, this may need more time; check the cakes at the 30 minute mark, and continue baking, if necessary, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is springy to the touch.

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by Liren Baker on November 19, 2012

40 Responses to “Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake”

  1. Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 19, 2012 @ 10:06 pm (#

    I love tea cakes and buttermilk batter – the cranberries remind me of sparkling gems!

  2. Belinda @zomppa November 20, 2012 @ 3:03 am (#

    Would not have any slices left if this was in my house. Can’t ask for better partner for tea!

  3. Patty November 20, 2012 @ 7:08 am (#

    Cranberry tea cake says Christmas to me, beautiful loaf! Everybody loves to receive a gift like this…lucky neighbors;-)

  4. Linda | The Urban Mrs November 20, 2012 @ 9:15 am (#

    That’s a beautiful tea cake and the way you capture cranberry is so elegant! Love it and look how simple it is.

  5. Eileen November 20, 2012 @ 12:33 pm (#

    This is the kind of simple, fruit-filled cake that I love the best! Sounds delicious. :)

  6. Brian November 20, 2012 @ 1:24 pm (#

    Fresh cranberries are so wonderful! Love the use of them in this tea cake. Have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

  7. roz November 20, 2012 @ 5:51 pm (#

    Oh I so love cranberry cakes, breads, and pastries of any recipe! (I also pinned this yummy recipe!) Thank you for sharing and your photos are SO beautiful! I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

    All the best,
    Roz from ‘la bella vita’

  8. Asmita November 22, 2012 @ 9:23 am (#

    Simply delicious!

  9. Holly November 23, 2012 @ 12:21 pm (#

    This looks delightful and I’ve wanted to make a small loaf cake for some time. Would dried cranberries work? Fresh ones are impossible to get here.

  10. Grace November 16, 2014 @ 2:47 pm (#

    Sugared cranberry tea cake recipe from your site  on facebook calls for  one cup butter——way tooooo much. It is awful GREASY. 
    Your site here asks for only 1/2 cup. I am so disappointed that recipes on Facebook can’t be trusted. Please fix it, so that someone else does not waste time and ingredients.

    • Liren Baker replied: — November 17th, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

      Hi Grace,

      I find this most distressing – not only do I understand how frustrating it is to use an incorrect recipe, I am disappointed that you found the recipe on Facebook. Just so you know, I never post my full recipes on Facebook, whether it is the Kitchen Confidante Facebook page or any other, so sadly, someone must have copied my recipe and posted it on their own to their page without my permission. If you wish to send me the link to the page where you found the recipe, I can address this.

      I hope you try the recipe again. I stand by my recipe and especially love it now that fresh cranberries are back in season.


  11. Janet Beaman November 20, 2014 @ 2:15 pm (#

    I got this recipe from the 12 Tomatoes facebook page. I made it this afternoon —- followed the recipe to a T ———- OMG —- what a mess!!! I followed the link on the 12 Tomatoes page to your page — which was included in the facebook post. I see that the recipe on your page has 1/2 cup butter………….the one on the 12 Tomatoes site has a CUP of butter. Now, I know why mine was a nasty mess. I put down the garbage disposal.
    Here is the link to the recipe on the 12 Tomatoes page:

    I can see they changed the name of the recipe.

    I will try the recipe from your original page —- and hope that it turns out successfully!

    • Liren Baker replied: — November 20th, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

      Hi Janet,

      You are the second person to alert me to this issue, and I am grateful that you passed along the link to the site that has posted my recipe with the extra butter. How frustrating!

      I’m sorry this happened, but hope you do try my recipe with the correct measurements!


      p.s. if you happen to have the link to the actual Facebook post, that would be helpful, too. Thanks!

  12. Wanda December 3, 2014 @ 8:20 pm (#

    I also was foiled by the bad recipe posted on 12 Tomatoes facebook page. Ugh! I saw the link to your page after all was sadly done. Could have saved myself time and $$$ if I had read these comments. 

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 4th, 2014 @ 10:03 pm

      Wanda, this makes me so sad! If you could, please let me know the link to the actual bad recipe – I can’t seem to locate it on the 12 Tomatoes facebook page. I want to make this right! This recipe is a favorite of mine, I hate that others are using an unapproved and incorrect recipe!

  13. Joan December 15, 2014 @ 12:26 pm (#

    My loaves are in the oven as we speak- and I, too, followed the FB link. I’m 40 minutes in and they have not yet “set”- probably due to the extra stick of butter.  So disappointing!

  14. Gina December 21, 2014 @ 7:17 am (#

    I too used the 12 Tomatoes recipe. What a disaster!?! I was making one regular loaf for a church brunch, and six mini loaves to give to neighbors and friends. Also, are you using plain flour or self-rising? Not only were they a greasy mess, they fell.

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 23rd, 2014 @ 9:55 am

      Gina, I am so sorry that the 12 Tomatoes FB site is posting my recipe incorrectly. I hope you try again as they really are a great gift for neighbors. I use all-purpose flour.

  15. mary December 21, 2014 @ 4:59 pm (#

    I used the facebook recipe too. The loaf kind of fell and stuck to the pan and cannot be given as gifts as I planned. I will make 2 more with YOUR recipe. I am sure glad I looked the recipe up again. I thought maybe I used the wrong size of bread pan. Would you please tell me the size you use? Thank you!

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 23rd, 2014 @ 9:54 am

      Hi Mary,

      I have 1.5 lb loaf pans (they measure 10x5x3 inches). I hope the second round goes much better! I made some this week and they were wonderful. Please, if you get a chance, I would appreciate if you could send me the link to the FB page that posted my recipe incorrectly. I do want to address it directly with that page’s owner.

      Thank you and happy holidays!

  16. mary December 23, 2014 @ 11:42 am (#

    Hi! Thanks for the reply. I did make again using ½ cup butter but I used 8” pans because that is what it said on the recipe.
    The batter tasted very good, but it did kinda fall in the middle too. ( the first try with the cup of butter was just a mess! )
    Below is what I could copy from FB.
    Thanks again for replying. If I make it again I will try my bigger pans. When you used the 10” did it still make 2 loaves?

    below is my post regarding the 12 Tomatoes Recipe

    Mary Wright
    December 21 at 8:59pm •

    if you make this please note that the directions from 12 Tomatoes are incorrect. should be 1/2 c butter not 1 c. I found out too late. the original recipe is from

    Top 10 Christmas Dessert Recipes – 12 Tomatoes

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 23rd, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

      Hi again! Yes, when using the slightly larger pans it still makes 2 loaves. It will look like they will be small loaves when you pour the batter in, but it does rise. It sounds like the 8″ pans may have needed a little extra time in the oven! Thank you so much for posting on the 12 Tomatoes site, I do hope they take the time to fix it! Thanks again, Mary :)

  17. Lydia Strnad January 1, 2015 @ 9:03 am (#

    Hi, I also found the recipe on FB but had a bit more success. The loaves needed more cooking time, about 15 minutes more or less. I just watched them. I was worried that they would be overbaked and dry but they weren’t. My brother commented to my mom that they were delicious. My brother rarely is so complimentary! Both loaves did sink in but it didn’t affect their flavor. I’m glad to hear it wasn’t my baking skills, haved pinned your recipe, and am going to try again. Thanks, so glad I read the comments on FB and found your site. Lydia

  18. Christy January 25, 2015 @ 11:19 am (#

    So I just made this the second time with your recipe after using the 12 Tomatoes recipe. The taste is good, but again, both loaves sank in the middle. I also had to bake an additional 5 minutes. Could you instruct us on how to get it so it won’t sink in the middle?

  19. Linda March 1, 2015 @ 4:48 am (#

    I also found the recipe on 12 Tomatoe. I baked it in a bundt pan. It was very soft but I thought I did something wrong. Glad to know it wasn’t me. Tasted great otherwise after I left it to cool for awhile. Going to try your version again this morning.  

  20. Nancy April 15, 2015 @ 12:27 pm (#

    I saw your recipe posted on Facebook by 12 Tomatoes.  I am a very experienced cook and once made the mistake of making one of 12 Tomatoes recipes for a cake with a custard.  I don’t have many failures, but this most certainly qualified for one.  It was a tasted wonderful, but the custard never set up properly.  Anyway, I wrote them an email when I discovered what was obviously an error in the recipe and never heard back from them.  From that point on, I never trusted any recipes that they post.  I always look for the original source….I have found NUMEROUS errors with many of their recipes.  I am going to try “your” version of this delicious looking cranberry tea cake and will review it.

  21. Cindy December 3, 2015 @ 3:18 pm (#

    They have at the bottom Adapted from Kitchen Confidante. I hate when someone steals a recipe, changes it a bit ( like doubling the butter) and calls it their own. Then people make it and it turns out a mess. There is no link to the Facebook page, because when you click on the link on Facebook it takes you to their web page:

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 5th, 2015 @ 9:05 am

      This has been so frustrating – thank you for sharing the link, Cindy!!

  22. Sharon December 4, 2015 @ 7:48 am (#

    Glad to find the site of the original recipe and get the loaf pan size to use. By the way, has anyone used frozen cranberries instead of the fresh/dried ones?

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 5th, 2015 @ 9:04 am

      So glad you found it, Sharon! I’ve never used dried, only fresh, but you can definitely use frozen. The only tricky part with the frozen is that I personally prefer to halve each cranberry. But otherwise, frozen will work! Happy baking!

  23. Sharon December 7, 2015 @ 12:27 pm (#

    Liren -Thanks for getting back to me.

  24. Martha Perez December 9, 2015 @ 4:00 am (#

    I, too followed the recipe with a cup of butter. I am an accomplished baker and it did sound like a lot, and used it any way. It is a mess and greasy. I’ll try it again with correct proportions. We adore cranberries at my house! I also used whole wheat pastry flour which I don’t think contributed to the mess.

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 14th, 2015 @ 2:53 pm

      Martha, thank you SO much for the link. I will see if I can get to the 12 Tomatoes folk who copied (incorrectly!) my recipe. I am so sorry they got the proportions wrong and that your tea cakes turned out poorly :( I just made some this weekend, and hope you get to try it again, too.

  25. trish December 14, 2015 @ 8:44 am (#

    can you please tell me why your spray the pans then line with parchments…do they stick without the parchment?

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 14th, 2015 @ 2:54 pm

      The parchment isn’t necessary as long as you adequately grease your pan, but I like to line them so they are easy to remove from the pan, like little slings! Also I find that I can use less baking spray that way. I hope that helps, Trish!

  26. Lois December 14, 2015 @ 1:34 pm (#

    I also used the recipe for your cranberry tea cake that was on FB from 12 tomatoes. It is not the first BUT WILL BE THE LAST of the recipes from 12 tomatoes that I ever use. I should have known better by now as I have had to throw all of them in the trash. Seeing all of the people that have had the same experience..something should be done by FB

  27. Mary Richar December 26, 2015 @ 12:02 pm (#

    I too tried the Cranberry Tea Cake from 12 Tomatoes.  O M G…1 cup of butter = a big mess, fell totally apart.  Going to feed mine to the birds.
    Thanks,  I will follow your link from now on.

  28. Debra December 27, 2015 @ 9:25 am (#

    Very happy I went and checked validity of this recipie. Going to make according to this sites instructions. The amount of butter and the way they described how to prepare threw me way off. Been cooking\baking for many years and FB recipie on 12 tomatoes didn’t make any sense. Hope I don’t forget how to get back on your page so I can let you know how mine turn out.

  29. Carol Ankrum January 4, 2016 @ 5:41 pm (#

    Have made this recipe twice.  While the taste is amazing, the loaves look NOTHING like the picture.  Mine have sunk in the middle BOTH times and I bake all the time and followed the recipe to the T.  Does it need baking powder also?!?!  It’s as if it isn’t leavened properly.  SO disappointed and won’t be trying it again, unfortunately.

    • Liren Baker replied: — January 4th, 2016 @ 8:05 pm

      Hi Carol, I am so sorry to hear that your cakes did not turn out. This really is so disappointing as I have made these so many times, especially during the holidays to give to friends and neighbors. It’s always been a reliable one for me. I know there are lots of variables when it comes to baking, but I hope that I can figure out what it is that went wrong. Please accept my apologies.

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