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, 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.
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.
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?
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!
Scrumptious cake filled with fresh cranberries, candied orange peel and crystallized ginger, is mildly spiced and topped with a sugar cookie streusel. Perfect for a special holiday Thanksgiving or Christmas 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.
For Gluten-Free Option: For the Sugar Cookie Streusel, substitute ¾ cup (96 grams) Cup4Cup (C4C) Gluten-Free Flour, available at Williams-Sonoma and most specialty grocery stores, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend (containing xanthan gum) measured cup for cup or by grams in place of the all-purpose wheat flour called for. For the cake, substitute 1½ cups (192 grams) Cup4Cup (C4C) Gluten-Free Flour or your favorite gluten-free flour blend (containing xanthan gum) measured cup for cup or by grams in place of the all-purpose wheat flour called for in the cake recipe. You will need extra flour for dusting cake pan.
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: WickedGoodKitchen.com
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