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On the 5th Day of Christmas: Fresh Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce

This fresh cranberry cake is beautiful and delicious, a unique dessert to serve during the holidays. Don't skimp on the hot butter sauce: it's the best part!

For some reason, this cranberry cake is one of those recipes that I imagine cranberry farmers eating on special occasions back in the olden days, or the Ingalls family anxiously awaiting every holiday season. It seems deliciously old-fashioned, like the kind of recipe a family would save up all their sugar for and bake as a special treat for Christmas. The cake itself is moist and dense, almost like a shortcake. The fresh cranberries in the batter practically melt while the cake bakes, giving each bite little bits of ruby-red color and a bright, tart flavor that nicely contrasts the simple sweetness of the cake. But the real star of the show is the hot butter sauce. Made with melted butter, sugar, and cream, and finished off with a little vanilla, it is so delightfully sinful! No matter how much I put on my cake at the beginning, I always go back for more before my piece is gone.

This fresh cranberry cake is beautiful and delicious, a unique dessert to serve during the holidays. Don't skimp on the hot butter sauce: it's the best part!

Fresh Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This fresh cranberry cake is beautiful and delicious, a unique dessert to serve during the holidays. Don't skimp on the hot butter sauce: it's the best part!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
for the cake
  • 4-5 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (12-oz) evaporated milk
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
for the hot butter sauce
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350Ā°F. Spray a standard bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, preferably the kind with flour in it, especially for baking.
  2. Wash the cranberries and set them aside to dry.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar until fluffy. Add milk and beat until combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to mixer and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and spread batter in prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.
  6. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar and cream, and heat until sugar is melted and sauce is hot. Do not boil! Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve hot sauce over cake. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature.

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This fresh cranberry cake is beautiful and delicious, a unique dessert to serve during the holidays. Don't skimp on the hot butter sauce: it's the best part!

33 thoughts on “On the 5th Day of Christmas: Fresh Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce

  1. Hi Amykay. I’ve never tried lemon zest, but I’m sure it would brighten up the sauce. I did add rum once and that was super tasty, and I hate rum!

    Yes, wait until the very last minute to add the sauce. I usually put it in a little bowl or pitcher on the side and let people serve themselves.

  2. Hi! I just made a similar cake today, with the same sauce. As an experiment, I separated some sauce and added a little Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. OMG-it was awesome! Proceeded to flavor the rest of the sauce. Just discovered your blog while searching for a picture of this recipe. Now being added to my favorites. Thanks!
    Wade

  3. Lulu Help, I have tried to make this cake twice in two days, and batter is like pasta dough or bread dough, it clumps together, is that how it is supposed to be? to me it seems like there is way to much dry to wet ratio. What am I dooing wrong, when I try to mix in the berries the dough is so thick that it is near impossible to fold in the fresh berries. I threw the first one way w/o tasting as the texture was so dense and heavy. This attempt now does not look any better, but here’s hoping the oven has magic powers. Please help

    1. Hi Megan! The batter is thick and you have to scoop it into the bundt pan and spread it, but it shouldn’t be like bread dough. Some quick trouble-shooting ideas:
      –1can evaporated milk, not sweetened condensed milk

      Ok, that’s actually the only one I can think of. I’ll check my original recipe to make sure it’s accurate. Good luck!

    2. Hi,
      I am having the same issue as Megan. I made the battter and it was very thick. I just turned the cake over and it is very “heavy.” Yours looks light with a soft outside crumb. Fingers crossed that once it is cut, it isn’t a brick šŸ™‚

    3. Hey! I just made the cake yesterday so that I could answer your questions. The batter is super thick, almost like a muffin batter, and the cake does turn out very, very heavy. When baked, it completely fills the bundt pan. I wouldn’t describe it as a light cake at all, but it should be soft, moist, and dense. I hope yours turned out! Merry Christmas!

  4. Would it be possible to make the cake in a regular cake pan (instead of a bundt pan) and then use the sauce to make a “poke” cake? I’m trying to prepare it in advance. Thanks!

  5. I just wanted to let you know that I made this cake for the first time for Christmas this year.. and WOW it was soo good! Took half of the butter sauce and added rum to it.. yummo! It was a huge hit.. wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe.. I will be keeping this in my archives for future use!

  6. I’m making this cake right now, and it appears that there are very few wet ingredients…is the evaporated milk mixed with water or just left dry?

  7. I think the recipe is wrong…calls for two Tablespoon s of Baking Powder..are you sure it wouldn’t be two Teaspoons. I taste too much baking powder

  8. I always double the sauce, I guess I have bigger sweet tooth than most. I alway just make it in a 9×11 cake pan and take a fork and poke the crap out of the cake before I pour the hot butter sauce over it. That way it makes the cake really moist and sticky and elimates the dry of denseness problem of the cake. It’s not as pretty, but a gooey delight. I also use wild blueberries instead of cranberries sometimes. I lived in Alaska for 30 years and had wild blueberries galore. The blueberries there are smaller, tarter and a little seedy. Tried to make blueberry pie and it always turned out a little tart and gritty. This recipe worked great for them too. The low bush wild cranberries are the same way. That’s where the double sauce idea came from.

  9. Oh and something else that I forgot. The old recipe that I used to have that my daughter borrowed and never returned our lost. She lived right next door so this happened alot. I’m pretty sure that the old one that I used to have called for evaporated milk it the butter sauce instead of heavy cream. Probably does’nt matter that much unless you find yourself with evap. milk and are out of heavy cream. Still works great. If your like me, I’m always missing something.

    1. Hi Brenda! I love reading about all of your tweaks to the recipe. Wild blueberries would be delicious in it, and yes, more sauce is a good thing! And I haven’t substituted evaporated milk in this particular instance, but I have in other recipes and they came out exactly the same as always.

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