Christmas Cranberry Buckle – Holiday Cake

Follow Me on Pinterest

Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake ~ Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. The perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breakfast or brunch! | Christmas cake recipeScrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. Our Christmas Cranberry Buckle is perfect to serve for a special Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year holiday breakfast or brunch!

A Special Holiday Cake:
Christmas Cranberry Buckle

Christmas Cranberry Buckle has become a tradition at our house as I always bake a special streusel coffee cake for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving to enjoy through the holiday weekend and to kick off the Christmas season. It makes the day we cut down our Christmas tree at the tree farm a little bit more special.

Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake ~ Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. The perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breakfast or brunch! | Christmas cake recipe

For several years, I made my great grandmother’s recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake (her recipe has the very best streusel known to man, I swear!) and then a cranberry coffee cake with a cream cheese layer and homemade cranberry jam. However, ever since making several Blueberry Buckle coffee cakes (The Big Lug’s favorite), using the recipe by Cook’s Illustrated, like my recipe for Blueberry-Raspberry Buckle, it has been Christmas Cranberry Buckle each holiday season and The Big Lug has never been happier. Of course, I love it too.

Baker’s Tip: For this recipe, I highly recommended using two cake insulating strips around the springform pan as this particular cake browns considerably well and becomes slightly tough around the edges otherwise. After baking the cake with cake insulating strips and un-molding, the cake has a pleasing golden brown exterior versus looking over-browned.

Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake ~ Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. The perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breakfast or brunch! | Christmas cake recipe

Just glorious…look at all those sugar granules shimmering in the light like snow or teeny-tiny diamonds!

But, let’s get back to this cake and why you need to bake it this holiday season…

What makes our Christmas Cranberry Buckle wicked good?

Using the stellar recipe for Blueberry Buckle from Cook’s Illustrated as a base, this cake is buttery rich with a touch of lemon from the zest and has a moist crumb. However, we added a hint of spice with ground cinnamon and nutmeg to balance the tartness of the cranberries for this special Christmas cake. The batter resembles cookie dough versus cake batter due to no milk or buttermilk being used in the recipe—which is key. This way, berries remain suspended without sinking to the bottom. A whopping 3½ cups fresh whole cranberries, along with 6 tablespoons of chopped candied orange and Australian Crystallized Ginger (known for its sugary spicy heat) soaked in Grand Marnier®, creates a cake filled with favorite holiday flavors of citrus and spice reminiscent of Currier and Ives. The cake is baked in a springform pan with two Bake Even Strips to ensure an evenly baked cake not overly browned. A helpful cake slider is used so as not to disturb the pretty topping when un-molding and transferring the cake to a cake pedestal. To top it all off, we use Wicked Good Kitchen’s signature Sugar Cookie Streusel sprinkled with granulated sugar for added crunch and sweetness as well as a touch of holiday splendor to resemble fresh fallen snow. What’s not to love?

Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake ~ Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. The perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breakfast or brunch! | Christmas cake recipe

This holiday season bake this spectacular cake, Christmas Cranberry Buckle, for Christmas breakfast, brunch or gift-giving. You will not regret it. This special Christmas cake is easy to prepare and so impressive to serve! Holiday guests will rave.

Bon appétit and happy holidays!






Below are Pinterest-friendly sized images to pin at Pinterest!

Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake ~ Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. The perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breakfast or brunch! | Christmas cake recipe

Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake ~ Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. The perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breakfast or brunch! | Christmas cake recipe



Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 8 to 10.

Christmas Cranberry Buckle - Holiday Cake

Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, mildly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. Our Christmas Cranberry Buckle is perfect to serve for a special Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday breakfast or brunch!


  • For the Spiked Candied Fruit
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped Australian Crystallized Ginger, such as Williams-Sonoma
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier®
  • For the Sugar Cookie Streusel
  • ¾ cup (90 to 94 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (75 to 80 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) salted butter, cut into bits
  • For the Cake
  • 1½ cups (195 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for cake pan
  • 1½ teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (3.6 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
  • 10 tablespoons (about 141 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs (mine weighted 112 grams w/o shells), room temperature
  • 3½ cups (14 ounces/about 350 grams) fresh cranberries, rinsed & dried
  • Shortening or favorite cooking oil, for greasing cake pan
  • For the Sugar Topping
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Special Equipment
  • One 9-inch round nonstick springform pan
  • Two insulated cake strips, such as Wilton® Small Bake Even Strips (Set of 2)
  • Cake Lifter, helpful but not necessary


Prepare the Spiked Candied Fruit: In a small bowl, combine candied orange peel, crystallized ginger and orange liqueur. Cover and let stand for several hours or overnight at room temperature.

Prepare the Sugar Cookie Streusel: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Set aside.

Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350º F. Grease 9-inch round nonstick springform pan with shortening and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. If using insulated cake strips, don’t forget to prepare the pan per manufacturer’s directions with the exception of using two (as shown in the article above). Set aside.

Prepare the Cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices until well combined. Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer and large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add lemon zest and vanilla; beat until combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition on medium speed scraping sides and bottom of bowl as necessary. (Mixture may look slightly separated. Don’t worry. It will pull together with the addition of flour.) Add flour gradually while mixing at low speed until mixture is just blended. Do not overmix. (Batter will be thick and very heavy.) Using rubber spatula, carefully fold in spiked candied fruit and cranberries until distributed evenly.

Using rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan. With spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth the top. Use hand to clump portions of streusel by squeezing and use fingers to sprinkle small clumps of streusel evenly over top of batter. Repeat process with remaining streusel.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire cooling rack. Immediately, sprinkle sugar over the top of cake and run thin metal icing spatula around edge of pan to loosen cake from sides of pan. This will prevent the cranberries from sticking to the sides of pan and will make removing easier. Cool for 15 minutes.

To Unmold Cake: If using, remove insulated cake strips. Unmold cake by removing sides of pan. Cool until just warm or to room temperature, about 1 hour. Slice into wedges and serve.

Recipe Notes


If you prefer using unsalted butter in the streusel topping, use the same amount of unsalted butter but add a few pinches of salt or omit it.

How to Bring Eggs to Room Temperature: Should you forget to bring your eggs to room temperature by setting them out for an hour before starting recipe, do not worry. To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, fill a medium bowl with warm tap water—not hot, but warm so the eggs do not cook. Carefully place the eggs into the bowl of water so they are fully submerged. Allow eggs to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove eggs from water and towel dry. Eggs should now be at room temperature and ready to use in recipe.

How to Measure Flour for This Recipe: When measuring flour for this recipe, be sure to use the “dip and sweep method” if measuring by volume with measuring cups. This way, you will get closer to the 195 grams we call for in our recipe. The original recipe by Cook’s Illustrated calls for 1½ cups at 7½ ounces or 212.5 grams total. This translates to 5 ounces per cup or about 142 grams by weight despite the fact that flour manufacturers state 120 grams per cup. When developing our recipe, I call for 195 grams to meet in the middle between flour makers at 180 grams, and Cook’s Illustrated at 212.5 grams, and our cake turns out fabulous each and every time. This tip is provided for home bakers who do not use a kitchen scale to measure ingredients by weight.

Sugar Cookie Streusel can be made up to 1 day in advance. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to use.

Leftover cake can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature when stored airtight—either in a cake dome or wrapped in plastic food wrap.

If serving buckle as dessert, serve slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Optional: If desired, for plating and presentation purposes, after cake has completely cooled carefully slide a chef’s knife under the cake, and slide knife around the circumference, to release it from bottom of springform pan. (Be careful!) I like to use my Nordic Ware Cake Lifter. This nifty kitchen tool works wonders to lift cakes up and off the bottom of springform pans and to transfer to serving plates, platters or cake pedestals or stands. This totally preserves the pretty streusel topping and prevents from having to invert when using regular cake pans. Sur la Table also carries one called Cake and Pizza Lifter at a very reasonable price.

Note: Time listed above does not include the standing time for Spiked Candied Fruit.

Recipe Source:

Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.

About Stacy

Stacy Bryce is a recipe developer and member of the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). Her passion is developing original conventional baking recipes as well as special diet recipes to include dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free. You can follow Stacy at Pinterest.


  1. Stacy, this is like the perfect Christmas morning food in my world. Can you invite me over to spend the holidays with you? As much as I love to cook myself, sometimes it’s nice to be fed by somebody else, and all of your creations look SO delicious! =)

    I will for sure be making this one!
    Jaclyn recently posted…Hale Navy BathroomMy Profile

    • Thank you, Jaclyn! You should definitely bake this cranberry cake for Christmas breakfast. It is so easy, looks beautiful and tastes fabulous. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

  2. This looks amazing!! I want to have this at your breakfast table on Christmas morning – as creepy as that sounds – haha even though I’m sure we’d get along great!! I love all this GF option baking you’re doing!
    Julie @ Table for Two recently posted…Diamond of California Culinary Nuts GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  3. I’m sorry to hear you ran into camera problems! As for lighting, I feel that I’ve had issues since daylight savings started…ugh. My our photos are stunning and your cake is very photogenic — just gorgeous with those bright red bursts of cranberry! I love that it’s gluten-free, too.
    Marcie recently posted…Funfetti Sugar Sandwich CookiesMy Profile

    • Oh, girl…we are kindred spirits with fighting through the winter lack of natural lighting situation. Thank you for the compliments, my friend. They mean so much coming from a talented baker such as yourself. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Oh Stacy, this looks divine! I would make this for sure. Thanks!
    Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg recently posted…Chocolate Dipped Pistachio NuggetsMy Profile

  5. Stacy, finally, a long-awaited post from you! I kept checking your blog, and finally this beautiful cake has arrived! I am glad you already got the new camera. Could you share what kind of camera and lens you got, if you don’t mind? You have such a distinctive style of taking photos – they look like they are from old cookbooks. I am afraid as you get better and better at photos, you might lose this unique photo style that makes your photos so unique. Also, I had such a pleasure reading your post about the challenges in finding the right amount of light at the right time in the right room – there are very few people in my life who would find such conversations exciting, LOL, and I often feel quite lonely in that department. 🙂 And the cranberry buckle looks amazing – will be pinning it, or course!
    Julia | recently posted…Ode to pecan shortbread cookiesMy Profile

    • Thank you, Julia! I truly appreciate the pins! Also, I appreciate your compliments on my photography style as I really do try to have that whole vintage vibe going on with an inviting ‘homey’ or ‘cottage’ look. I like your analogy of vintage cookbooks. 🙂 But, if my photography ever does get better (a girl can dream, right?), you are saying I may lose that touch? I hope not. Ugh, those natural lighting challenges during winter. They really do get to a food blogger, don’t they? I’m glad I am not alone. Thank you for stopping by, my friend!

  6. Maria | Pink Patisserie says:

    Such a lovely, lovely recipe Stacy! I love food just like this for Christmas mornings! I hear you about the bad light. We are in perpetual grey here in Seattle. It makes for very difficult shooting most days..It’s good to know I’m not the only one! 🙂

    • Thank you, Maria! Oh, you need to make this cake soon. It’s a pretty special coffee cake. I’m glad I am not alone with natural lighting issues, LOL. Thanks for stopping by, girl! 🙂

  7. Such a gorgeous buckle, Stacy! That sugar cookie streusel is just perfection! I totally relate to your photography woes – with the time change, I only have about an hour of decent light before everything takes on an unappealing green tone, so you aren’t alone!
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) recently posted…english toffeeMy Profile

    • Thank you, Laura! I am glad to know I am not the only one challenged with winter natural light issues with food photography. At least the days are just now starting to get longer. Hooray! Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  8. Yay, I’m so glad to hear you’re back in the kitchen! I love buckles (who doesn’t?)! And love the photography too Stacy. I have the same photography woes. With daylight savings, I usually a have to cook/bake the day before and photography the day after. I rarely cook/bake and photograph the same day. It’s just not possible with the lighting where I’m at. I really love that cookie streusel. It’s totally perfect! PInned. Have a great rest of the week my friend. 🙂
    Anne ~ Uni Homemaker recently posted…Eggnog Rum Bread with Cinnamon ChipsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Anne! I’m glad to be back. Not having a camera this time of year has been disappointing. So many holiday recipes to share, so little time. Thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of the week!

  9. Oh my gosh girl you photos are always gorgeous! I was starting to wonder where you had disappeared off too, glad to hear you have a new camera and are back in action! These photos turned out gorgeous! I hate the daylight fight this time of year, it’s never perfect!
    Serena | Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch recently posted…Caramel SauceMy Profile

    • Aww…thank you, Serena! It seems as though we are all in the same boat with our winter lighting challenges with food photography. At least the days are starting to get longer now. Thanks for dropping by, my friend!

  10. Looks great, Stacy. Interesting how much those insulating stips made a difference. I might need to find some of those…
    Carolyn recently posted…Gingerbread Ice Cream – Low Carb and Gluten-FreeMy Profile

    • Thanks, Carolyn! Yes, definitely get some insulating strips. You will love them. They really help cakes during baking…especially when made with nut flours, which tend to over-brown, with gluten or grain free baking!

  11. Three photo shoots! You are dedicated. I snap a few and then just give up…need to get better! I want this buckle so badly. The cranberries just scream Christmas!

  12. Oh wow – what a difference those insulating strips make! And this buckle is out of this world! love how your “sugar granules shimmer… in the light like teeny-tiny diamonds” ! 🙂

    Stacy – do all your photos use only natural lighting? not some sort of extra indoor photo lighting? the reason I ask is your photos are simply gorgeous! And I dont think that has anything to do with the camera – but more with who is behind it!
    Shashi @ recently posted…WIAW For Dessert: Apple & Pumpkin Crumble!My Profile

    • Aww…thank you, Shashi! I truly appreciate your compliments as I am such a newbie food photographer. Yes, I only shoot with natural lighting but I do sometimes add some artificial lighting to augment it like during winter months…never artificial alone. Artificial lighting alone just doesn’t work for me. Thank you for stopping by, my friend!

  13. Wow! Can I come over Christmas morning?! Because if you’re making this then I am THERE!
    Katrina @ In Katrina’s Kitchen recently posted…Cinnamon Butter CookiesMy Profile

    • Aww…thank you, K! I would LOVE to have you over for Christmas brunch! We’re neighbors, right? 😉 Thanks for stopping by, my friend. And… HAPPY HOLIDAYS! xo

  14. Now that is a gorgeous Christmas buckle Stacy – so festive and I love the nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon!
    Jeanette | Jeanette’s Healthy Living recently posted…Quick Creole Style Shrimp Jambalaya Recipe {Cookbook Giveaway}My Profile

  15. That buckle is gorgeous Stacy. As usual you are such a perfectionist. There is no detail left out. That’s the best thing about your blog, I know the recipes work and work beautifully.
    Kismet- I completely get and hear you on the lighting and food sitting out. That’s a lot to handle. Your pictures are super clear, perfect color balance. Your pictures are stunning. Again, I agree with Sashi, you are a great photographer.

    • Aww…thanks, Ash! You are too kind, my friend. I greatly appreciate the compliments as I am definitely more of a recipe developer and challenged as a food photographer. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

  16. Buckle is one of my favorite, I love it with berries either cranbery or blueberries. Yours look delicious, wishing there was a big piece in front of me right now to go along with my cup of tea.
    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl recently posted…Peppermint White Chocolate M&M CookiesMy Profile

  17. I want! I want! I want! I am in love with all those bright red cranberries! What a gorgeous, gorgeous breakfast for Christmas!

    • Hahaha! Thank you, Trish! I hope you will try making this delightful Christmas Cranberry Buckle. It truly is so easy! If you have run out of time for more Christmas baking, buy some fresh cranberries and freeze them for baking this treat later. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. This looks awesome and festive!
    Peabody (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody) recently posted…EPIC FAIL…Read If You Need A LaughMy Profile

  19. Oh my goodness Stacy, this is one gorgeous buckle! Your new camera photos are stunning, I wish I was having this for breakfast now hehe. Love the streusel and how festive and pretty this buckle looks. It sounds incredible with the nutmeg and lemon zest! Pinning this stunning cake and hope you are having a great week so far 🙂
    Kelly recently posted…Nutella Hazelnut Stuffed Snowball CookiesMy Profile

    • Thank you, Kelly! You will love this Christmas Cranberry Buckle. I hope you will make it soon for you and your family. Thanks for pinning, my friend!

  20. I love the tradition of making Cranberry Buckle! It looks amazing! I am a huge fan of cranberries and would totally go for a slice of this beauty right now! Pinned!
    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet recently posted…Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies + OXO Giveaway!My Profile

    • Thank you, Anna! You will love this cranberry buckle and you need to make it soon for you and your family. Thank you for stopping by and for the pin! xo

  21. What a fantastic tradition!! I just baked up a cranberry cake too! I love buckles, and crumb cakes and anything that has streusel type toppings! Boo for camera issues, but yay for these beautiful photos! Well done, as always 🙂

    • Thank you, Meghan! Oh, you simply must make this cranberry buckle, girl. You will love it! Thanks for the compliments and the pin is much appreciated! 🙂

  22. Such a pretty cake! That is so rough that you bake such beautiful things but have food alergies!
    Laura @ Laura’s Culinary Adventures recently posted…BBQ Chicken QuesadillaMy Profile

    • Thank you, Laura! Yes, recipe development can certainly be a challenge with food allergies. But, I just plug along and share. Plus, hubby gets to enjoy all of my creations. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend! 🙂

  23. This is a beautiful cake Stacy. I just love the pops of red from the cranberries. And your photos are gorgeous. I’m so glad your camera is here and you are back in the kitchen. Can’t wait to see the rest of your holiday recipes. Have a great weekend 🙂
    Zainab @ Blahnik Baker recently posted…Gingerbread Cake with Molasses Buttercream {Holiday Classic}My Profile

    • Thank you, Zainab! It feels great having a camera again. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. I hope you have a great weekend as well! 🙂

  24. This gluten free recipe will definitely be handy! Thanks!
    Sarah & Arkadi recently posted…Garlic Parmesan Edamame with Toasted Black Sesame SeedsMy Profile

  25. Yum!! This cranberry buckle looks so delicious and moist and beautiful, with plenty of cranberry to go around. I’m so glad to hear that you have your new camera and can get back to baking mode (: I’m going to have to try out this recipe for the holidays! Merry Christmas!
    Monica recently posted…Christmas Morning Cinnamon RollsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Monica! I hope you will try this cranberry buckle soon. You will love it! Merry Christmas to you and yours, my friend!

  26. Gorgeous buckle!

  27. This looks divine. Do you have any suggestions for how to make a non-spiked fruit version?

    • Hi there, Ra! To make a non-spiked fruit version, just add the fruit as is without spiking it. The batter is nice and moist and your cake will turn out divine! Thanks for stopping by. I will be sure to add this option to the recipe for others. 🙂 Happy baking!

  28. Amazing and I am craving right now for a piece.
    Olga Lopez recently posted…Rosemary Chicken.My Profile

  29. This cake is like pure Christmas joy! PInned x Hope you are having a magical Christmas period lovely
    Ruby & Cake recently posted…Santa Baby!My Profile

  30. Can you use flash frozen cranberries for the buckle?

  31. Hi there, Erin! Thank you for writing with such a great question. Yes, you may substitute frozen whole cranberries for this recipe, for Christmas Cranberry Buckle, just as you would with frozen blueberries for Blueberry Buckle. Of course flash frozen is always best because there isn’t large ice crystals that can play havoc due to the added moisture in the cake batter. Thanks again for dropping by. I hope this information is helpful to you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge