Kick off your holiday baking with a cranberry apple cake! This recipe is simple to make, moist (from the ground pecans!), and bursting with holiday flavors like fresh cranberries, diced apples, and cinnamon. Yum!
One of my favorite things about the holidays is that I get to bake all sorts of yummy treats and share them with people I love. And I hope you agree! Whether we’re making cookies, pies, or cakes there is always something special we can make and share.
What do you need?
- Fresh Cranberries – I love using fresh cranberries in baking because they are so tart and intense that they just burst with flavor in your mouth. Look for firm, round berries with deep red color.
- Apples – I used honeycrisp in the recipe (they are my favorite!), but any firm eating apple would work well.
- Pecans – Nuts are critical to the recipe! They make the crumb super tender and moist. (That said, you can switch to walnuts in place of the pecans.)
- Greek Yogurt – Tang, richness, flavor. Greek yogurt (plus some milk for extra liquid) increases the tenderness while also making it a bit lighter in texture.
- All the rest – Flour, sugar, eggs, spices, leavener, salt, oil. Everything you need to make a batter.
How to make this
To make a cranberry apple cake whip the eggs and sugar until light, then add the wet and dry ingredients in turns to make a batter. Spread the batter into a cake pan, adding the cranberries and apples. Bake until cooked through and golden brown.
1. Prep the ingredients/equipment
There are a few things you need to do to get started. Once you do the prep everything goes quick and easy.
- Preheat the oven. Grease a springform pan and cut a parchment round for the bottom.
- Grind the pecans.
- Chop up the apples and cranberries and toss with cornstarch.
- Mix together all the dry ingredients – pecans, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt.
- Mix together the wet ingredients – yogurt, milk, vanilla, eggs.
Tip: Having trouble cutting the round liner for the pan? Try this hack from Food and Wine!
2. Make the batter
To start you are going to mix together the eggs and sugar using the flat beater on a standing mixer until the eggs are very light and the batter falls in ribbons from the beater. This will take 5 minutes. (I use the time to tidy. 🙂 )
Then add the dry and wet ingredients in turns. First flour, then yogurt, again flour and yogurt, and ending with flour. This keeps everything light and from needing to be mixed too much. Once you have most of the last flour addition mixed in, STOP and then finish with a silicone spatula to get that last little bit.
3. Fill the pan
To keep the fruit from ending on the bottom, fill the pan with about 1/3 of the batter first and spread that out. Then mix about half the fruit with the remaining batter and spread that in the pan. Finally, add the remaining fruit and push it into the the top of the batter. Now you’ll have fruit all through the cake!
4. Bake and serve
To bake the cake put it in the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. At 50 minutes you can check with a toothpick or use my favorite method (since crumbs can be deceiving!), which is to check with an instant read thermometer. When your thermometer reads between 205 and 210F it will be set but not overdone.
Once your cake is done, let it cool then transfer it to a serving platter and top with cinnamon sugar.
This recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead. Once it is cooled, store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let it sit on the counter for about an hour to warm up. (Also, you can pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350F to crisp up the outside if you wish.)
To freeze the cake, put it on a tray and freeze solid then wrap very well and seal. Thaw overnight in the fridge then once it’s thawed into the oven as above to revive it.
Either way, wait to top with cinnamon sugar until you are ready to serve.
Can you use frozen cranberries?
Yes, you can use frozen cranberries in this cranberry apple cake. I bake using frozen berries of all sorts on a regular basis. While you don’t always need to thaw, in this recipe I would recommend thawing the cranberries and then chopping them before mixing them in the batter.
Why thaw? Frozen berries (and other fruit) can throw off the temperature in the batter which can lead to having an overcooked outside when the inside is done or a undercooked inside if you are going by the outside on when it’s done.
If you try my recipe for Cranberry Apple Cake, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
Simple Cranberry Apple Pecan Cake
- 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apples, 2-3 apples
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup pecans, heaping
- 2 cups 10 oz all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and cut a parchment round for the bottom.
- Toss the apples and cranberries with the cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside.
- In a food processor, grind the pecans until they are very finely chopped but not a paste, 20-30 seconds.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the pecans with the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In another bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
- Put the flat beater on your standing mixer. Add the eggs and the sugar to the bowl. Mix on medium high speed for 5 minutes. The batter will be very light colored and flow off the beater in a stream.
- Turn the mixer to low. Begin adding the flour and yogurt mixtures in turn. Start with 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 of the yogurt, and continue 1/3, 1/2, 1/3. Be careful not to overmix and only mix just enough to incorporate each addition.
- Spread 1/3 of the batter onto the bottom of the prepared springform pan.
- Mix half of the apples and cranberries with the rest of the batter and spread it in the pan. Then add the remaining fruit, pressing it in a bit so it is sitting in the batter.
- Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean or until a thermometer reads between 205-210F.
- Let it rest on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. Then remove the ring of the springform pan and let the cake cool completely.
- To serve move the cake onto a serving platter (removing the pan base), mix together the cinnamon sugar, and sprinkle it over the top.
- Chopping the cranberries: Cranberries are hard and they roll around. Either use a large cutting board and large knife to chop them or put them in the food processor and give them a few pulses. (You can do that after the pecans. No need to even wash out the processor first.)
- Grinding the pecans: You can use a coffee grinder or nut grinder instead of a food processor.
- Measuring the flour: If you are measuring the flour by cups (instead of by weight), use the scoop and sweep method to measure. Scoop the measuring cup into the flour and then sweep off the excess. This will give ~5 oz by weight of flour in each cup.
- Moving the cake: Place a cutting board or plate gently on top of the cake then flip it so it is resting on the board. Remove the pan base and peel off the parchment. Then place the serving platter on the cake and flip it again.