Orange Cranberry Layer Cake

It's Friday once again and to end the week on a sweet note, here's a dessert that I made for our pre-Thanksgiving dinner I prepared recently. Orange and Cranberries are flavors I especially like together and it's perfect for the holidays too. This Orange Cranberry Layer Cake includes layers of orange cake flecked with orange zest and sweet cranberry sauce that's been blanketed with cream cheese frosting in the most perfect and delicious sweet way...

I've learned to love layer cakes because it's easy to do when you bake it in one pan. The trick is just cutting the cake to size and stacking them together between a filling. In this case, a sweetened cranberry sauce kissed with oranges matched beautifully with a orange cake made with orange extract, orange zest and orange juice. This is a perfect dessert to bring to the holiday table that you can decorate with fresh berries and orange slices as a garnish too!

Orange Cranberry Layer Cake

recipe adapted from Roxana's Home Baking

Cranberry Sauce
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice

In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, add the cranberries, sugar and orange juice. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the berries have popped and the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Orange Cake
3/4 cup room temperature butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp orange extract
1 tablespoon orange zest + more for garnish
1/2 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or 350 grams GF flour blend)
3/4 cup whole milk
As the cranberry sauce cools, heat the oven to 375F. Line a 10 x 15 inch baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper; set aside.

In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and one by one, add the 3 eggs followed by the orange extract, orange zest and orange juice.

Add the baking powder and salt to the bowl and slowly fold in the flour alternately with the milk. 

Transfer the batter onto the prepared baking pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth surface and ensure the batter is an even depth. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, rotating half-way through baking, until the center is firm when touched.

Allow cake to cool for 5 minutes in pan set on a wire rack. Flip the cake onto a wire rack then immediately re-flip back onto a second wire rack. The cake should be resting with the parchment side down. Allow the cake to cool for another 30 minutes .

Transfer the cooled cake onto a cutting board and cut into equal halves cross-wise. Cut length-wise so that you have 4 equal pieces, measuring about 6″x 8″ each.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar (12 ounces)
1/3 cup buttermilk powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces cream cheese (1-1/2 packages), cold & cut into 1 tablespoon portions

While the cake is cooking, toast your pecans and chop them coarsely. Cut your cream cheese into 12 equal-size pieces, but keep it refrigerated until you are ready to use in step 3.

Add the butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla extract and salt to the bowl of a standing mixer. 

Mix using the paddle attachment on low-speed for 2 minutes; scrape down the bowl as necessary.Increase mixer speed to medium-low, then add cream cheese one piece at a time. Mix for 2 minutes until the frosting is smooth.

To assemble:

Put the first of the cake pieces on your serving plate. Use a spatula to spread half of cranberry sauce over layer. 

Top with another cake piece. Use a spatula to spread 2/3-cup of frosting over layer. 

Top with another cake piece. Use a spatula to spread remaining half of cranberry sauce over layer. 

Top with final cake piece. Use a spatula to spread 1 cup of frosting over layer.

Frost the sides of the cake with your remaining frosting. 

To garnish, sprinkle top of cake with orange zest before serving.

*Gluten free flour blend:
This is the best combination for my personal uses and has never failed me. I purchased a majority of the ingredients at an Asian market (at less than $.99/lb) and the other ingredients marked were Bob Red Mill brand. Cornstarch was Argo brand.

300 grams superfine brown rice flour (Bob's Red Mill)
250 grams sweet rice flour (Asian market)
150 grams tapioca flour (Asian market)
100 grams sorghum flour (Bob's Red Mill)
100 grams potato starch (Asian market)
100 grams cornstarch (Argo brand)

Whisk together the above flours and store in an air tight container. To use, measure out 140 grams for every cup called for in your favorite baking recipe (NOT yeast bread recipes.) Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for every cup used in the recipe as well to help with texture and binding.


  1. This cake sounds so heavenly I must bake it this weekend! Thanks for sharing Joelen!

  2. Is the orange juice used thawed frozen concentrated and not mixed with water or orange juice w/ water added?

  3. Kathe, I would use orange juice that is ready to drink or fresh squeezed. If you are using frozen concentrated, prepare as directed on the package to serve as a drink and measure out for the recipe.

  4. The cream cheese frosting seals the deal