Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake
Perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack, paired with tea or coffee, or a rustic dessert, this Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake is just right for holidays! You’ll love this simple cranberry cake recipe!
Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake is holiday-ready! This cranberry cake is perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea or coffee, or as a rustic dessert.The buttermilk batter makes for a cranberry cake that stays moist, each slice boasting a bite of tart, fresh cranberry.
Note: This post first appeared on November 19, 2012. The recipe has been updated from the archives with additional content and updated photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this family favorite from my kitchen.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
How to Make Cranberry Cake
Ever since I first shared this recipe in 2012, this cranberry cake has become a staple every holiday season. As soon as the first cranberries appear in the market, the loaf pans come out for this simple dessert. As easy as a quickbread and as delicate as a rustic cake, this is my favorite kind of baking — simple, straightforward, and without fuss.
Start by whisking together the dry ingredients, and set aside.
Then it’s time for the butter and sugar to get friendly in the mixer – once fully incorporated, add the vanilla and egg until it’s nice and creamy.
Add the dry and wet ingredients in alternating batches, mixing until the batter is just combined. Carefully fold in the cranberries. Then it’s off to the oven to bake!
Give the cakes some time to rest in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve!
More Holiday Cranberry Recipes
Cranberry Curd and Hazelnut Shortbread Bars
Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie | Simple Sundays
Cranberry Sauce Cornbread Muffins | Simple Sundays
Fresh Cranberry Tea Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 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.
This is the second time I made this recipe and the second time it did not come out of the loaf pans nicely. I followed the directions exactly both times. The first time I used butter with parchment paper and this morning I tried spraying the pans instead of coating them
with butter and the result was exactly the same. I even coated the cranberries with flour before I folded them into the batter. The cake did taste good but it’s disappointing to put in the effort and follow the recipe precisely to not have it turn out. Not sure I will be making it again.
Hi Adrienne, I am puzzled why your cakes are not turning out of the pans nicely. I am curious if you are trying to remove the cakes too soon after baking. It shouldn’t matter whether you use butter or baking spray. I also recommend letting the pans rest at room temperature after baking for about 10 minutes before attempting to free them from the pan. If you try too soon, the cake is still delicate and may not release quickly or crumble. This recipe is a family and reader favorite, and I always have success with it.
Can you use craisins (dried cranberries)
Hi Rebecca, the cake will turn out quite differently if you use dried cranberries. I suggest rehydrating the craisins by soaking in warm water (or juice) first. If you’re looking for another option to use dried cranberries, you could also make Maple Glazed Cranberry Bread. Happy baking!
Tried for the first time, using parchment and they lifted out perfectly, cooking time was almost an hour which I find with most loafs I make, probably oven. Could you add orange flavoring to add a bit of extra to it. Making again fir my holiday visits with the elderly.
This was easy (but cutting all the cranberries took a while!), and tasted great. I made 4 mini loaves and one half size loaf for gifts. Pretty, too.
Hi Michelle! You’re right, slicing the cranberries can be a bit tedious, but I’m so glad you made them and enjoyed them! Hope your friends loved the mini loaves!
Hi! Maybe a dumb question but how do I adjust if I only have 9×5 loaf pans? Thanks in advance!
Hi Amanda! Not a silly question at all! Just bake it a little longer, and keep an eye on it. It will be fine in that size loaf pan!
I would like to have few slices right now!
I hope you get to try it!
Liren, I’m desperate for your help because my loaves, too, have the sunken centers [but not because I doubled the butter measurement]. I used exactly what you specified in the recipe, but I’m beginning to wonder that those of us with sunken centers may have deviated from the mixing process that you are using. For example, when you write: “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,” were you intending for us to keep running the electric mixer throughout the alternating of flour and buttermilk stages? Or were you intending for us to hand mix the alternating stages? I ran the electric mixer from creaming butter/sugar straight through until turning it off to hand stir the berries. My loaves are about 1/2 the height that yours are, and they’re not pretty, they’re darker than yours. Delicious yes, but something isn’t right. HELP!
I would like to make mini loaves. I have successfully made the full pan ones with a little problem with sticking to the pan. Today I tried using a non stick mini loaf pan (8 loaves) and they again stuck to the non stick pan. I used baking spray and they still would release freely. Can you provide any advice to help me with the sticking issue. They are too good to serve in broken pieces.
Hi James, I always use parchment paper, which helps to remove them from the pan. And I do wait about 5 minutes to let them cool before lifting them out, but not too long, as I don’t want them to continue cooking in the pans’ residual heat. I usually never have any problems. I hope this helps!
These are so pretty! I can’t wait to try making them!
I’ve got to try tea cake! This looks yum!
Perfect for a holiday brunch! Love the cranberries!
Definitely a crowd pleaser!
What a beautiful loaf and those cut cranberries are gorgeous too! I wish I had some now!
I often marvel at the sliced cranberries too! So pretty!
I adore these videos and the cake is just beautiful!
Thank you, Cheryl!
What a gorgeous cake!
Thank you so much, Ashley!
Yes, I’d need a double batch, too. One for me, and one for everyone else!
I like the way you think, Liz!!
I’d love to make more then two from this recipe, can you tell me how to alter time with smaller pans and what size pans ? Thanks much
Hi Sandra, I refer to this chart when converting pan size. Hope his helps!
Can you use frozen cranberries?
Absolutely! When I made it this past week, I used frozen cranberries and they worked perfectly. Just be careful when slicing!
I’ve made these cakes a few times. They are excellent! My only issue is they always stick to to bottom of the pan. Pans were very well greased with butter but they never have come out clean. Do I have to use parchment paper? And should they cool a little bit before coming out? Or should they cool out if pan?
Hi Denise – so glad you loved these cakes! I always use parchment paper, which helps to remove them from the pan. And I do wait about 5 minutes to let them cool before lifting them out, but not too long, as I don’t want them to continue cooking in the pans’ residual heat. I hope this helps!