Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake Recipe

What is soft, full of comfort, and has a delightfully sweet aroma? Coffee cake. This treat is perfect to enjoy with your morning cup of coffee or as a sweet afternoon snack. And you're in luck, because food photog and baking extraordinaire Autumn LeAnn put a citrusy spin on the beloved classic that will make your mouth water. "I grew up eating my dad's coffee cake almost every weekend. Now that he's passed away, making coffee cakes reminds me of him, though he never added cranberry or orange — those are my own touch," LeAnn says.

History has it, coffee cake was probably adapted from a German recipe, but we have the Danes to thank for originally pairing a sweet, coffee cake-type bread with a cup of joe (via The O&H Danish Bakery). Needless to say, coffee cake has plenty of traditions from various cultures behind it. From the 1800s to today, it's been reimagined in many new shapes and flavors. 

And if your'e not a fan of aromatic brews, don't fret. You can still enjoy this treat. Our recipe is coffee-free. However, one question remains: Is this served best at breakfast or as dessert? There's only one way to find out.

Gather the ingredients for cranberry orange coffee cake

Here's the second sweetest part of the process: bringing the ingredients together. Start out by collecting 1 cup of all-purpose flour, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. You'll also need 1 egg, ½ cup of whole milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, and ¾ stick of butter. Add a special flavor to your batter with the zest of one large orange and a 14-ounce can of jellied cranberry sauce. We'll be garnishing this beautiful cake with 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar and three or four candied orange slices.

Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract

We'll complete the simple steps first. You may begin by preheating the oven to 375 F. Next, measure out each of your ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment), cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract. Combine them until the butter mixture becomes fluffy. Strew the orange zest amongst the mixture, and proceed. The zest is a light touch. LeAnn says you can mix it right in: "I did not use any zest for the garnish, just mixed [it] into the batter."

Complete the batter, and mix well

As your mixer is at work, drop in the egg. Beat this together on the slow setting until fully combined. Then toss in your flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the milk, and mix until thoroughly combined. Don't let the mixer type hinder you. LeAnn notes, "If you don't have a stand mixer, you can still make this recipe with a hand mixer!" Continue combining the ingredients until you have a silky, rich consistency.

Pour half the batter into a pan, and add the jellied cranberry sauce

Now, spray a round baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Alternatively, you may line it with parchment paper. LeAnn used a 7-inch pan, however, she says, "For this recipe, you could also use a 6-inch pan. If you'd like to make it in a larger pan, you will want to scale the ingredients accordingly." 

From your mixing bowl, pour half of the batter into your pan. Spoon half of the jellied cranberry sauce evenly on top of the cake batter. LeAnn mentions, "I used Ocean Spray brand for this recipe, but you can use whichever cranberry sauce you like, including homemade."

Add the final layer of batter, and swirl

Before baking, evenly pour the rest of the cake batter into the pan. Once it's settled, transfer the remaining jellied cranberry sauce over top. Lightly swirl the sauce into the batter. This incorporates the cranberry flavor beautifully into the rich batter. 

Name one winter drink you would partner this cake with? When it's baked to perfection, this delight goes down perfectly with a warm mug. "This coffee cake pairs well with a good ol' cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or chai tea," LeAnn shares.

Bake and garnish your cranberry orange coffee cake

Slide this delight into the oven for 50 minutes to one hour. If you're not sure it's done, LeAnn recommends, "The toothpick trick is a great way to tell if a cake is done. If you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean, it is finished. If batter sticks to the toothpick, it will need more time." 

Once the cake is browned and done, let it cool completely. Afterwards, dust the top with powdered sugar. You may then garnish it with the candied orange slices.

Slice and serve

"You can candy oranges by boiling them on low in simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) for 45 minutes and then letting them dry on a rack for about 24 hours. This time of year, you can often find them at the grocery store already candied," LeAnn notes. Once your beautiful cranberry orange coffee cake is cooled, dusted, and garnished, slice it into individual servings. This method yields six good-sized slices.

Have you decided, breakfast or dessert? According to LeAnn, "This coffee cake is great to enjoy for breakfast or brunch with a good cup of coffee." We drink coffee anytime, so why not serve it both ways? 

LeAnn has fond memories of sharing this treat with family. "Growing up, we always had coffee cake on Saturday mornings." Your family will absolutely love this coffee cake recipe any time of the week. And should there be any leftovers, you store them in an airtight container for up to three days optimally.

Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake Recipe
4.9 from 18 ratings
This coffee cake recipe got a tasty twist with jellied cranberry sauce and orange zest.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cranberry orange coffee cake slice
Total time: 1 hour
  • ¾ stick butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for garnish
  • 3 to 4 candied orange slices, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  3. Once the butter mixture becomes fluffy, add in the orange zest, and mix.
  4. Add the egg into the mixture, and beat on slow until combined.
  5. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the milk, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  7. Pour ½ of the batter into a 7-inch round pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and lined with parchment if you have it on hand).
  8. Spoon ½ of the jellied cranberry sauce evenly on top of the cake batter.
  9. Evenly pour the rest of the cake batter in, and add the remaining jellied cranberry sauce on top. Lightly swirl it into the batter.
  10. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until thoroughly cooked.
  11. Let cool completely before sprinkling with powdered sugar and decorating the top with candied orange slices.
Calories per Serving 396
Total Fat 13.2 g
Saturated Fat 7.9 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 59.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 66.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Total Sugars 48.4 g
Sodium 80.2 mg
Protein 4.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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