Citrus cranberry cake

Citrus cranberry layer cake - a light and refreshing citrus cake sandwiched with tart cranberry sauce for an explosion of flavors and textures. Recipe from

Today we’re breaking the traditional, just a little bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love chocolate and peppermint, but a change is good.

Who says a cake has to be round? No one!

Who says a Christmas dessert can’t be a citrus cranberry cake which are in season right now? No one!

Exactly my point. Thank you!

Few weeks ago I got from the grocery store  some beautiful mandarins. After eating like half of them I though about making a citrus cake, but since I don’t have much experience when baking with citrus I poured myself a cup of tea and start thumbing some of my cookbooks until I got to one old collection of holiday recipes from Better Homes and Gardens. Coconut Cranberry Torte. I know, what’s that got to do with Citrus Cranberry Cake, you may ask. Well except leaving the coconut aside I kinda kept the recipe and added some more citrus to the cake and on top of the cake.

Citrus cranberry layer cake - a light and refreshing citrus cake sandwiched with tart cranberry sauce for an explosion of flavors and textures. Recipe from

The cake is a little bit of work, but what layer cake doesn’t need work? First you have to bake the layers in a jelly rolls pan. Once the cake is baked the fun begins. With a little patience and a measuring tape you cut in in three rectangles and sandwich them with the cranberry sauce you made while waiting for the cake to bake.

At the end you dress the cake with a little bit of icing and freshly cut mandarin slices.

The cake turned out amazing. It’s light and the citrus touch makes it so refreshing and the the tart cranberry sauce layers turns this cake into a mouthful of flavors.

The top layer is flooded with the icing and the longer it stays, the juices from the mandarin slices get sucked into the cake making it even more irresistible.

Citrus cranberry layer cake - a light and refreshing citrus cake sandwiched with tart cranberry sauce for an explosion of flavors and textures. Recipe from

Citrus cranberry layer cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

2 hours

Yield: one 5X10 inch layer cake

Citrus cranberry layer cake

Citrus cranberry layer cake - a light and refreshing citrus cake sandwiched with tart cranberry sauce for an explosion of flavors and textures.


    Citrus Cake
  • 3/4 cup (168 grams) room temperature butter
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 grams) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • 12 oz (336 grams) fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • Icing
  • 1/2 cup powder sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • few drops of lemon juice
  • Decorations
  • mandarin slices
  • powder sugar


  1. Heat the oven to 375F.
  2. Grease the bottom and the sides of a 15X10 inches jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl add the butter and the sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and one by one, add the 3 eggs followed by the lemon extract.
  4. Add the baking powder and salt and slowly fold in the flour alternately with the milk and orange juice.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the cranberry sauce.
  7. In a medium saucepan add the cranberries, sugar and orange juice. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until all the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thickened.
  8. Leave to cool completely.
  9. When the citrus cake is done, take it out of the oven and leave to cool 10 minutes in the pan. Sprinkle powder sugar on top of the cake, cover with a cutting board and turn. This way you'll be able to remove the cake form the pan without breaking it into pieces or sticking to the cutting board.
  10. Remove the parchment paper, trip the edges and slice the cake in 3 slices (about 4 3/4 inch each slice) Wait until the cake and the cranberry sauce are completely cooled
  11. Place the first slice on the serving plate. Spoon half on the cranberry sauce on top of the cake and spread it all over. Top with a second slice of cake and spread the remaining cranberry sauce.
  12. Place the 3rd slice of cake on top and let sit for 10-15 minutes. You can refrigerate at this point, if you prefer.
  13. Now it's time to make the icing.
  14. In a small bowl mix the powder sugar with the water and the lemon juice. You want the icing to be still pour-able but not too runny.
  15. Pour it over the cake, wait few minutes until it sets and decorate with the mandarin slices.
  16. Optional you can sprinkle some powder sugar.
  17. Slice and enjoy!

Citrus cranberry layer cake - a light and refreshing citrus cake sandwiched with tart cranberry sauce for an explosion of flavors and textures. Recipe from

For other Christmas desserts check out #25recipestoXmas. You can also find the gallery on Pinterest and on Google+


Sending love your way,


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    Hello! My name is Roxana and I'm a self-taught baker, wanna-be photographer and the writer behind Roxana's Home Baking, where I share original and adapted scratch recipes. 

Here you'll find no fuss, no hassle easy recipes with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.  Read more ....


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  1. says

    Roxana, OH EM GEE!!! As soon as I saw this stunner on your facebook page I had to come over and take a look at this recipe. This cake is SO gorgeous (aided of course by your beautiful photography skills) and the flavour combo is fantastic. God I wish I had a slice right now (!). I am seriously blow away.

  2. says

    You are simply amazing and continuously inspired me with every post. I love citrus and sweet combination rather than just sweet (but I like both and cannot pick one). This cake looks so special with being layered and drizzled icing… gorgeous photography and loving your your detail attention (the half peeled orange is so cute!).

  3. Jenn says

    As I have about five bags of cranberries in the fridge and am hosting Christmas, I was wandering through the web looking for ideas. Your cake looks like it is the winner for Christmas dessert. Especially after a big meal, such a light and fruity cake will be great.

    My one question is about how it will work to make ahead. Any recommendations you could offer? I’m thinking that maybe having the pieces ready to go and then assembling it all after dinner (during the digestion/napping/walking the dog phase).

    • says

      Hi Jen,
      You can make the cake in advance, wrap it in plastic foil a couple of times and freeze it. Take it out the night before and leave it in the fridge. Just before dinner pour the icing and place the citrus slices.


  4. says

    What a beautiful cake! I ususally go for Chocolate cake at Christmas as it’s a winner every time…but I may let my adventurous side out this year and try this as well! I’ll try a test cake a few days before Christmas first though…obviouly so I can make sure the cake will turn out right…not just so I get a whole cake to myself…honest :-)

  5. Lisa R says

    I love the look of this and like the idea of a light dessert. Now, pardon my ignorance, but when you serve the cake, what do you do about the mandarins still with the rind on? Do you remove them? Eat them together with the rind?
    Our family Christmas is early (Sunday), but I’m hoping you can answer before that so I can make use of this great recipe:) Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Lisa,
      We sliced the cake with the mandarin slices and everyone removed the rind just before eating. You can also remove the peel if you prefer just before adding the slices on the cake but I think they (the slices) hold their shape better if they are left with the peel on.


  6. Jeanette says

    This cake looks amazing! I would like to make it to take to a birthday celebration but would need to make it about 24 hrs in advance. Should I refrigerate the cake overnight and only add the oranges on top right before the party? Thanks for any help!

    • says

      Hi Jeannette,
      yes, you can make the cake in advance. Just add the icing and the citrus slices few hours before serving.
      Have a great birthday party!


    • says

      Hi Bec,

      I really don’t know what pan to advise you to use. You could try and use two 11X7″ baking pans (also known as brownie pans) but the layers will be a little different.

  7. Wendy J. says

    Thank you for posting this beautiful work of art. For the klutz in me….did you cut through the oranges and cake with a serrated knife? I don’t want to beat it up because of my lack of “carving” skills. LOL.

    Thank you!


  8. says

    I have made a number of your recipes, two in the past month or so and they are wonderfully written and very well received by my recipients. This cake didn’t assemble nicely for me on a night when I had to make six desserts for 100 women, and it became a trifle, but the cake and cranberry filling were delicious and they became a trifle base that was well loved. I can’t wait to try it again and see if I can make something that looks as pretty as your cake does!!! Thanks for your great blog.


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