This beauty is an Orange Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze that is decorated with sugared cranberries. Seriously beautiful and delicious!
I make this Orange Cake with Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze every year for a holiday meal. This year it was for Thanksgiving but as often it’s for Christmas Day; it depends on what strikes me as I create a menu. The flavors are fantastic and it is so beautiful. I did post it on my blog previously 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, with the brown sugar and cream cheese frosting layered with a cranberry glaze make a spectacular presentation for this amazingly delicious cake that is so perfect for the season. It tastes as beautiful as it looks too.
I’ve 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 was talking to my youngest daughter Lauren before she headed home one year right before Thanksgiving and shared 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 hadn’t 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 don’t need pie, I LOVE that Orange Cake that you make.”
Seriously? She doesn’t like cranberry sauce but loves this cake? Done deal then because I’m with her and it was a relief to know that instead of disappointing her I was doing exactly what she preferred. Whew!
I’ve been making and decorating cakes for my family since before I had children. The most elaborate one I ever made was a Blue Selectric Typewriter cake for my ex-husband’s secretary that I only wish I had taken a photograph of. Since then, I’ve done one every year for each girl’s birthday.
Bubble gum machines, ballerinas, music notes…whatever 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 I’ve 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, the proverbial ‘baby’s butt.’
One invaluable tool I’ve 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; it’s 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.
In the cake I made for these photos that accompany this post, I decided to go for more of a ‘naked cake’ look. Which meant I had a ton of frosting left to garnish the top…If you prefer to frost more on the outside edge, you won’t have that. Just make sure you build a nice ‘dam’ with the piped frosting on top; otherwise that cranberry glaze will run down the sides.
I let it go once and it was fine, but I think it’s way more dramatic and beautiful if the sides are devoid of cranberry syrup. Your call though.
Still one thing I promise you. If you have any leftover frosting, this is so good on my failsafe…a graham cracker. You might even save some on purpose. I might know know someone who has done that!
PIN IT! ‘Orange Cake with Buttercream and Cranberry Glaze’
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
- Combine cranberries and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, coarsely chop cranberries.
- 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.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Cover; chill overnight or up to 2 days (mixture will thicken).
Brown Sugar Frosting
- Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy.
- Add brown sugar; beat until well blended. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup (scant) at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in orange liqueur or orange juice concentrate and vanilla.
- Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
- Makes about 4 cups.
Cake Instructions and Finished Product
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.
- 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.
- Beat in orange peel, vanilla extract and orange extract.
- Whisk milk and yogurt in small bowl to blend.
- Add dry ingredients to yolk mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk mixture in 2 additions, beating well after each addition.
- 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.
- Divide batter between pans. Smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Top with second cake layer, flat side down; press slightly to adhere. Spread 2 cups frosting over sides of cake
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 781Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 177mgSodium: 448mgCarbohydrates: 112gFiber: 2gSugar: 81gProtein: 10g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.