This almond cranberry cake is a quick and easy dessert that is perfect for the holiday season. The sweet, almond-flavored cake complements the tartness of the cranberries. You can even bake this cake in your favorite cast-iron skillet for a delicious and eye-pleasing dessert. With only eight ingredients and one pan, this dessert is perfect for when you're running short on time but want to impress.
One of my favorite ingredients that always comes out around the holiday season is fresh cranberries. These little berries are tart and packed with tons of flavor. I love to use them in baking to amp up the flavor profile of a dessert.
I love this cake because it combines two of my favorite ingredients: cranberries + almonds. When I'm not baking my cranberry orange bundt cake, this dessert is a go-to for Thanksgiving and Christmas functions.
Why you'll love this recipe
Taste & Texture: The texture of this cake is somewhat dense and moist. It's very similar to my molasses cake (which is coincidentally also perfect for your next holiday gathering)! It's like a cross between a typical cake and a chewy brownie. The flavor profile is sweet and tart at the same time, accented by the almond extract. After cooling, the cake has a sugar-crusted topping which is delicious.
Level of Difficulty: This cake is a simple dump-cake recipe. You need less than ten ingredients and only two pans to make the entire thing. After mixing everything by hand, you pour the batter into your pan. There's no creaming or anything fancy, so I consider this recipe super easy—even for the novice baker.
Key ingredients and why we use them
- Cranberries: Fresh cranberries give this recipe an excellent tart flavor profile. It's the perfect complement to the sweet cake. Feel free to tone down the tartness by using ¼ to ½ cup fewer cranberries in the batter.
- Walnuts: This recipe calls for chopped walnuts, and I often buy them pre-chopped at the store for added convenience. Toasting your walnuts briefly in the oven will also add some flavor complexity to this recipe. If you're not a fan of walnuts, I've also substituted sliced almonds, which are delicious in this cake as well.
- Almond Extract: This recipe calls for one teaspoon of almond extract, which gives the cake a robust almond flavor. For some people, this is a bit too strong. In this case, I recommend substituting ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract in the cake. It's all a personal preference.
Frequently asked questions
You can use frozen cranberries in equal measure in most recipes. However, do not defrost frozen cranberries before adding them to the batter. Instead, take them out of the freezer and use them immediately. You may find that frozen cranberries "bleed" into the batter slightly. To avoid this, use a light hand while mixing and keep cranberries frozen until you need to incorporate them.
Fill your kitchen sink with 4-5 inches of cold water. Pour cranberries into the water and agitate them slightly with your hands. You will notice that some berries sink to the bottom and do not float. Discard these cranberries, as they are not fresh. Scoop the remaining cranberries into a colander and air dry or dry with a dishtowel or paper towel.
You can replace any 9-inch pie pan with a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Typical glass pie pans can leave you with "hot spots" and an uneven crust. However, cast iron has superb heat conductivity and does a great job of ensuring even cooking. To bake using a cast iron, leave the oven temperature and cooking times the same.
Heather's helpful hint
If your cranberries are large, cut them into halves before adding them to your cake batter. This step will ensure you don't end up with pockets of under-baked cranberries in your cake.
The entire recipe is available below for you to print and save. But, before you get there, let's walk through it step-by-step, so you understand what you're doing beforehand.
Step 1) Start by combining your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, and salt) in a large bowl. Next, add the fresh cranberries and chopped walnuts. Finally, stir to coat the cranberries thoroughly.
Step 2) Mix the butter, eggs, and almond extract and pour into the large bowl with dry ingredients.
Step 3) Mix until just combined—the batter will be very thick at this point.
Step 4) Spoon the batter into a 9-inch pie pan or cast-iron skillet.
Step 5) Using a spatula, smooth the batter into your pan.
Step 6) Bake your cake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely, and enjoy!
Make ahead and storage tips
Make-Ahead: To prepare your dry ingredients in advance, mix them and store them in a labeled ziplock bag with instructions. Then, when you are ready to bake, pour the package into a bowl and add the wet ingredients before baking.
Storage: Cake leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for three months.
There are several different ways to switch up this recipe according to your taste!
- If you don't like cranberries, you can try this recipe with blueberries or cherries. If using tart cherries, reduce to 1 ½ cups and cut them in half before incorporating.
- If you're not a fan of almond flavoring, make sure you substitute some vanilla extract in this recipe. For example, feel free to use only ¼ or ½ teaspoon of almond extract and vanilla extract for the remainder.
- This gluten-free keto cranberry bliss pound cake also sounds like a deliciously healthy version of this dessert.
Try these other cranberry recipes
Did you make this recipe? First, let me say THANK YOU for giving it a try! Please leave us a rating and leave any feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post. I always love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what went well — and what didn't — with a recipe! Also, be sure to check out some of our other recipes linked below!
Almond Cranberry Cake
- 9-inch pie pan or cast-iron skillet
- 1 cup flour all purpose
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups cranberries fresh
- ½ cup walnuts chopped
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 2 eggs large
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Place a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 20 minutes before baking your cake. Spray your 9-inch pie pan or cast-iron skillet with baking spray and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the fresh cranberries and chopped walnuts. Stir to coat the cranberries completely.
- In a medium bowl, mix the butter, eggs, and almond extract together. Pour the wet ingredients into the cranberry-flour mixture and mix until combined. The mixture will be very thick at this point.
- Spread the batter into your prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth out the surface.
- Bake your cake for approximately 40 minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Cool completely and enjoy with ice cream.
Notes and Tips
- Pan Size Adjustments: If you don't have a 9-inch pie pan or a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, you can also make this in an 8 x 8-inch square pan.
- Cranberries: Feel free to reduce the number of cranberries in the recipe to 1.5 cups if you aren't a fan of tartness.
- Almond Extract: If you don't enjoy a robust almond flavor, you can substitute ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract
- Topping: After you smooth the cake batter into your pie pan, sprinkle a few cranberries on top (making sure to push them partially into the batter). They will burst during baking and leave your crust will an appealing red color.