Easy Cranberry Apple Cake
Easy cranberry apple cake is a rich, tart start to your holiday baking. Think cobbler meets pound cake and you can whip one up in no time.
Waiting for cranberries at the grocery store was tough this year. Week after week, I kept looking. Because I wanted to make this cake! It’s not my mastermind, but that other Contessa’s–the barefoot one–Ina Garten. Even though she’s in the Hamptons and I’m in the land of cows and tobacco, we like a lot of the same flavors and approach food in a similar way.
I know she tells you to use vanilla beans that have been imported from Abu Dhabi and cheese straight from France (that’s only a slight exaggeration), but in the end she’s just encouraging you to use the best, most quality ingredients you can find. Don’t knock her for that part because I totally agree.
Your recipes will taste better if you don’t take too many cheap-o shortcuts. And this cake is a great example. It’s a tangy-tart, rich, dense little bit of wonderful. I thought you might like to try it in the weeks ahead as part of your holiday meal. I’m always looking for a little something new to add to our family favorites.
And this is SO easy. You’ll be glad you made it.
A couple of notes: First, I turned mine out just for the sake of pictures, but Ina’s recipe was never intended to be inverted onto a plate. You can just bake it and scoop it right out of the dish. That’s truly easy.
Second, this recipe calls for all purpose flour and no leavening agents besides the eggs, so don’t panic when it doesn’t rise. It’s not supposed to. The cake is so, so tender and moist though. You won’t care.
Third, use fresh cranberries, granny smith apples and real oranges. If you don’t, you might as well just do what I do with things that flop and feed it to your chickens. Don’t let the chickens win.
Easy Cranberry Apple Cake
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries rinsed and checked for stems and squishy rotten ones, one bag
- 2 inch small Granny Smith apple peeled, cored and diced into about 1/2 cubes, 1 large
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup orange juice from the orange you zested
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt or table salt reduce this if you are using salted butter
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan, or 10-inch pie plate.( A 10-inch is better, or see note below*)
- In a medium bowl, mix the cranberries, apples, brown sugar, orange juice and zest, and cinnamon and toss to coat. Set aside and make the cake.
- In another bowl, beat the eggs until lighter and fluffier--about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, and sour cream and mix well.
- On low speed, add the flour and salt slowly and mix just until no pockets of flour remain.
- Pour the fruit into the bottom of your baking dish.
- Spread the batter over the fruit as evenly as possible. It will be thick.
- Bake until the fruit is bubbly and hot and the cake is set--45 to 50 minutes or so. Check it with a toothpick--if it comes out clean it's done. Great warm or at room temperature.
This recipe looks great! If I wanted to give it a bit more rise what do you suggest I add? Baking soda or baking powder or both?
Actually Ashley, in this case I’m not going to make any suggestions for additional rise because when it comes to baking, if you start adding in things it’s easy to just plain ruin it. And I’d hate to see you do that. Besides,even though this cake doesn’t rise a lot, it’s so soft and moist. I don’t think you’ll miss the rise at all. Sorry I can’t be of more help. I just wouldn’t want something disastrous to happen. 🙁 –Rach
I made your recipe this year and WOW was it great! I added walnuts and made it gluten free and it turned out wonderful. My husband could hardly wait for it to cool off before he dug in!!! Thanks for posting it. I’ll definitely add to my favorite recipes.
Thank you Marie! I love it too! And so does my family. It sounds like your husband acts like my kids. They eat this cake hot too. 😉 What flours worked best for your gluten free version?
Hi Rachel, what is thevadjustedvrecipe to use a bunt pan?
Luauna, if you will look at the bottom of the recipe itself, there’s a note there that gives the bake time for the bundt pan. If you have any questions, just let me know. Happy Thanksgiving!
How do you store the
cranberry apple cake if you
make it 2 days ahead of time
Hey Jane, great question. I think the cake is best at room temperature if you are going to eat it within a day. To store it for two or longer (up to a week) I’d wrap mine well in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge, then bring to room temperature before serving. I hope you love it! I’m getting ready to make another one myself. Happy Thanksgiving!
My SIL’s father is allergic to apples. Could this be made with pears or another non-apple fruit (still using the cranberries of course)?
Hey Brooke, I think pears would be the closest choice here. I’m a little afraid that they might be too juicy, but try using a slightly under ripe pear (not hard as a brick though). I use Granny Smith apples because they have a tartness and I’d suggest a red pear for your cake if you can get your hands on them. If not, any pear will be fine. Dice them about the size of your cranberries and it should work just fine! I hope you all love it–I’m getting ready to make another one tomorrow. 🙂
Is there really a problem if i were to use dried cranberries? and if so why?
Yes, I’d say that’s a problem unfortunately. The difference between a dried cranberry and a fresh one is pretty huge and in the case of this cake, the cranberries are a key player in the texture, moisture and flavor–all of which are different when you use a dried berry. I’m afraid that you might end up with an apple cake that’s full of little chewy bits if you use dried berries. It just won’t be the same. 🙁 Hopefully you can make a trip to the store for fresh ones and enjoy it as it’s intended. Happy Holidays! –Rachel
I want to try this but how did you make the hole in the center if you used a pie plate??
Hey Merrily, I’m so tricky! I used a bundt pan just for the sake of pictures (and making the food pretty) but you don’t have to do that at all. I have adjusted the recipe to show the instructions in case you want to use a bundt pan. Glad to clarify that for you. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!
Looks good… you said to use pie dish, but how did you leave small circle open in the middle? you use bundt pan?
Hey Karen, I did use a bundt pan here just for the sake of making a pretty picture. You can certainly make yours the same way. I have amended the notes in the recipe to reflect the baking time. I would let it cool 10 minutes or so, then loosen it with a knife and invert it. If any of the fruit is left in the pan, just scoop it out and pile it on top. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!
Rachel, Your cake turned out beautifully! I love the zing in cranberries. They’re a part of our Thanksgiving tradition … in fact my dad always said “You know, the largest cranberry bogs around were just north of our farm. The Indians used to travel for days to harvest those cranberries” as he helped himself to cranberry sauce at the big dinner.
Thank you Noel! I love cranberries and we eat them as a relish and lots of different ways. Those dads…they never seem to mind to repeat the same stories do they? Have a great Thanksgiving!!!