Orange Cake with Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze

This beauty is an Orange Cake with Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze that is decorated with sugared cranberries. Seriously beautiful and delicious!

Orange Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze on a Cake Plate decorated with Sugared Cranberries

I make this Orange Cake with Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze every year for a holiday meal. This year it was for Thanksgiving but more often its for Christmas Day. The flavors are fantastic and it is so beautiful. I did post it on my blog too; NINE years ago! To say the post needed a redo is an understatement; this cakes deserves some notoriety!

The combination of the orange flavored cake, the brown sugar/cream cheese frosting and the cranberry sauce make a spectacular presentation for this amazingly delicious cake that is so perfect for the season.

Slice of Orange Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze Garnished with Sugared Cranberries

Ive been a single parent since my children were very young and I like to think I know them pretty well; their likes and dislikes. So no one was more surprised than me when I told my youngest daughter Lauren one year before the holiday that I was concerned about getting everything done.

I had neighborhood teens in the house helping me with cleaning and I found that my need to direct them took me away from baking and I hadnt accomplished all that I had hoped. She asked what I needed yet to do and when among the list I mentioned I needed to get a pie made, she asked, Why? We dont need pie, I LOVE that Orange Cake that you made.

Seriously? She doesnt like cranberry sauce but loves this cake? Done deal then because Im with her and it was a relief to know that instead of disappointing her I was doing exactly what she preferred. Whew!

Orange Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze with a Orange Slice Garnish

Ive been making and decorating cakes for my family since before I had children. The most elaborate one ever was a Blue Selectric Typewriter cake for my ex-husbands secretary that I only wish I had taken a photograph of, and Ive done one every year for each girls birthday.

Bubble gum machines, ballerinas, music noteswhatever they were into at the time I tried to make a cake that represented them for each birthday. Now it seems easier because there are no shapes to cut or forms to build but Ive struggled with wanting them to look just a bit more finished; I can never seem to get that icing on the outside edge smooth as, well, you know.

One invaluable tool Ive found that make it so much easier for me is a plastic bowl scraper (affiliate link) that I use to smooth the edge; as important as ever with the trend of naked cakes that I really love. When I originally made this Orange Cake with Cranberry Glaze I did not go naked and I do love this look much more; I think easier too; its not supposed to look quite so perfect.

The frosting quantity has been modified from the original recipe to allow me enough to pipe some finishing details on the bottom and top so if you choose not to do that; you will have some leftover frosting. ButI promise you, its equally fabulous on a simple graham cracker. I know this for a fact!

More Fabulous Holiday Desserts!

A variety of cakes that are perfect for a holiday celebration.

PIN IT! Orange Cake with Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze

Orange Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze on a Cake Plate in Front of Holiday Decor

Yield: 12 Servings

Cranberry Glazed Orange Layer Cake

Cranberry Glazed Orange Layer Cake

A rich orange cake is layered with a cranberry glaze and frosted with a brown sugar and orange buttercream, topped with more cranberry glaze. Beautiful and delicious.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


For the Cake

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

For the Cranberry Glaze

  • 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

For the Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange liqueur (Substitute 2 Tbsp orange juice concentrate if desired)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For Garnish (Optional)

  • Orange slice
  • Sugared Cranberries


Cranberry Sauce

  1. Combine cranberries and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, coarsely chop cranberries.
  2. Transfer mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Add 1 cup water and orange peel and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture is reduced to 2 1/3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Cover; chill overnight or up to 2 days (mixture will thicken).

Brown Sugar Frosting

  1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy.
  2. Add brown sugar; beat until well blended. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup (scant) at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Beat in orange liqueur or orange juice concentrate and vanilla.
  4. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
  5. Makes about 4 cups.

Cake Instructions and Finished Product

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat in orange peel, vanilla extract and orange extract.
  5. Whisk milk and yogurt in small bowl to blend.
  6. Add dry ingredients to yolk mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk mixture in 2 additions, beating well after each addition.
  7. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites.
  8. Divide batter between pans. Smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
  9. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.
  10. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread top of cake with 3/4 cup Creamy Brown Sugar Frosting. Spread 1 cup Cranberry Glaze over frosting, leaving 1/2-inch border all around cake.
  11. Top with second cake layer, flat side down; press slightly to adhere. Spread 2 cups frosting over sides of cake
  12. Spoon remaining frosting into pastry bag fitted with medium-size star tip. Pipe decorative border around top and bottom edges of cake. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 1 hour.
  13. Spread remaining Cranberry Glaze over top center of cake. Chill until glaze is set. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.)
  14. Garnish Top with an orange slice and the bottom with whole cranberries.


For Sugared Cranberries, visit this page with a pumpkin roll decorated with the berries.

Adapted from original recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 781 Total Fat: 33g Saturated Fat: 19g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 177mg Sodium: 448mg Carbohydrates: 112g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 81g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 10g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.
Creative Culinary

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