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: One 9-inch cake


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 (34 g) finely chopped candied orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons (34 g) finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) orange liqueur

For the Sugar Cookie Streusel

  • ¾ cup (98 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (75 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) salted butter, cut into bits

For the Cake

  • 1½ cups (195 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for cake pan
  • 1½ teaspoons (7 g) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (3.6 g) fine-grain sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1.25 g) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon (.65 g) freshly grated whole nutmeg
  • 10 tablespoons (about 141 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (4 g) grated lemon zest, from 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs (mine weighted 112 g w/o shells), room temperature
  • 3½ cups (14 oz or about 350 g) fresh cranberries, rinsed & dried
  • Shortening or favorite cooking oil, for greasing cake pan

For the Sugar Topping

  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons (6 to 8 g) granulated sugar

Special Equipment

  • One 9-inch (23 cm) 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 350ºF (177ºC). Grease 9-inch (23 cm) 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.

Yield: Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake, serving 8 to 10.

Recipe Notes


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

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.

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.

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

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.


For Gluten-Free Option: For the Sugar Cookie Streusel, substitute ¾ cup (96 g) 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 g) 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.

Presentation Suggestion:

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.

Shopping Suggestions:

Wicked Good Kitchen highly recommends selecting organic ingredients whenever possible.

For this recipe, and all our baking recipes calling for unbleached all-purpose flour, we highly recommend the pure and Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour by Hodgson Mill® because it is naturally white and contains no additives. We also highly recommend organic grass-fed butter, eggs and granulated cane sugar. In addition, we highly recommend using aluminum-free baking powder. In this recipe, we used and highly recommend Spectrum® Organic All Vegetable Shortening and Organic Pure Vanilla Extract by Nielsen-Massey®. For the orange liqueur, we used Grand Marnier®.

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