This delicious cranberry cake is Fall comfort food at its best. Enjoy warm for a great fresh cranberry dessert!
It’s cranberry harvest season here in Central Ontario, so it seemed appropriate to enjoy a lovely fresh cranberry dessert with the first of the season’s crop. This Cranberry Cake is filled with cranberries, so it’s lovely bites of tart are perfectly complemented by the creamy warm vanilla sauce. It’s Fall comfort food at it’s best!
That said, did you know that cranberries freeze so beautifully! Cranberries require no preparation for the freezer at all. Freezing cranberries is as easy as just placing the bag you buy them in right in to the freezer. You’ll always have a ready supply of cranberries to use year round.
Normally I suggest that the sauce could be optional, but in this case, I feel like this one is a package deal. The cake itself is so full of cranberries, that it lends to the tart side. The sweet and creamy sauce is what balances it out.
This one is best enjoyed with the sauce warm and the cake lightly warm. You can make both ahead and re-heat, as needed though.
Get the Recipe: Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce
- 3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries, thawed
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside.
- For the cake: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Fold in cranberries.
- Spoon batter in to prepared baking pan and smooth batter. Bake at 350° F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set on a cooling rack to cool slightly while you prepare the sauce.
- For the sauce: Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and immediately stir in 3/4 c. heavy whipping cream, vinegar and vanilla. Stir quickly until blended. Pour warm sauce over squares of slightly warm cake.
- Cake is best enjoyed with lightly warm cake topped with warm sauce. Left-overs can be re-warmed to enjoy later.
Your recipe is labeled American/Canadian. Please tell me what size liquid cup you use?
My Canadian liquid cup is 227ml (as is my dry measure cup). As long as you use the same cup size for both liquid and dry ingredients, any small variation in the size of the cup shouldn’t make a difference.
I made the vanilla sauce to drizzle on a fresh peach cake, that is close to the texture of bread pudding. I used a bit of pure maple syrup in place of the sugar. Yum! Served w/peach anything, this sauce tastes just like my Grandma’s, I need to try it over cinnamon rolls… then i’ll know for sure. Enjoy!
So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks :)
My daughter is allergic to corn, and white vinegar is derived from corn. Any idea what might work as a substitute?
Hi Kimberly, I think a bit of lemon juice would do the trick! Enjoy :)
Made this last weekend for dinner at a friends. I had 2 cups of cranberries still leftover from the holidays, so this was a great way to use them up. I decided since it should be served warm, that I would mix it up right before I left and take the unbaked cake over. I popped it in the oven while we were eating dinner. This was a perfect dessert for a party of 6 without having too much leftover, and without much fuss. I got compliments from everyone. I agree, the sauce is as much a part of the cake and should not be left out. Last night we had leftovers and I poured some of the sauce over the top and reheated in the microwave. The leftovers were delicious that way, so making ahead and reheating individual slices works well. I even think wrapping up individual slices in the freezer would be just as delicious.
I used an 8×8 pan and cooked for a few minutes longer, but the recommended 9×9 pan would make a little less thick pieces and absorb the sauce better. This is an easy to make and unique cake that is pretty to serve. Even better, I was recently in Quebec and brought back some Maple Cream Liquor and Caramel Liquor with Maple Canadian Whiskey and served that along side the cake! Delicious. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks! So glad you enjoyed it :)
Wow. Cake doesn’t do much for me. But creme vanille?!!! Yes!!!
Thanks Mimi and yes, all cakes can be improved with sauce imo!
Jennifer, I made this twice in one week! It has such awesome flavors…everyone raves about it and savors every bite! It’s great for breakfast without the sauce too! Thank you for the recipe, it will forever be in my file.
So glad you are enjoying this cake, Karen :) I am a huge fan of fresh cranberries in baking, so it’s a favourite of mine, too! Thanks!
LOVED your cranberry cake with vanilla sauce!!
The local cranberries were irresistible at the fruit stand. They’re so easy to use fresh or frozen.
Looking at your photos, I have to admit that mine looked highly similar to yours – except I didn’t have the pretty accessories!
Anything vanilla is my husband’s weak point so this was a hit and worthy of repeats. Plus it was easy to make.
Thank you for your fabulous receipes, Jennifer!
Hi Irene and thanks so much :) So glad you (and your husband) enjoyed this one! Cranberries are everywhere here right now, so I’m stocking my freezer.
I love it and I agree – a warm vanilla sauce is absolutely mandatory for this cake, or…any cake? Love the juxtaposition of the tart cranberries with the creamy sauce. Perfect for the holiday season!
Thanks Cindy and yes, great for Thanksgiving or Christmas! One of my favourite ways to enjoy cranberries :)
This definitely is comfort food at its best! That sauce sounds wonderful too! Perfect with a cup of coffee right about now :)
Thanks so much, Dawn :)
Cranberry season is here and I am thrilled!!!!! I look for all the cranberry recipes I can find. I JUST made this Cranberry Cake with warm sauce…my husband and I can’t stop eating it! It is perfect and so easy (of course I didn’t tell him how easy it was!)
I will make this again for ourselves and guests.
Thank you Jennifer.
I am thrilled, too Trish and thanks :) So glad you enjoyed this cake. I love the contrast of the cake with the creamy sauce.
This cake is just gorgeous, Jennifer!! I love the flavors and the cake itself looks so light and moist! Plus that sauce?!? I could drink it!! ;) Cheers, friend!
Thanks Cheyanne and you are right about that sauce! So good :)
Beautiful dessert Jennifer and love the addition of the sauce – I’m drooling over your photos !
Pinning this one!!
Thanks so much, Anna :)
I especially like a sweet and tart dessert and it is a perfect cake to have during the holidays.
Me, too Karen :) Thanks!
Warm vanilla sauce sounds too appealing not to try and I can see why you advise not to skip it flavor balance wise. I had no idea that vinegar was an ingredient of it. Very cool! The picture of the cranberry lake is gorgeous. You are so lucky to live nearby such beauty (that can also be harvested:)!
Thanks so much, Milena! And yes, the cranberry harvest is a must visit every Fall. Especially since they make wine from them, too so they have a fun tour and tasting event :)
Oooh this looks fantastic Jennifer!
Thanks so much, Alex :)
This looks spectacular Jennifer and I agree that delicious buttery sauce would not be optional! Such a perfect dessert for the season.
I never knew cranberry bogs were so beautiful!
Thanks Chris and yes, the bogs are truly beautiful. The bright reds with the greens I could stare at all day :)
I love cranberry season! I’ll need to add this to my fall baking list Jennifer. I love that vanilla sauce!
Thanks so much, Mary Ann :)
You totally had me at warm vanilla sauce ~ gorgeous!
Thanks Sue and yes, that sauce! :)
We’re hosting an autumn-themed lunch in the upcoming weeks and this will surely be on the menu! So beautiful and delicious! I love the balance of sweet and tart! Pinned!
Thanks so much, Annie and so perfect for an Autumn lunch!
Hi! Would the sauce be enhanced by a vanilla bean instead of extract? Can’t wait to try this recipe!
Hi Camille, I actually use vanilla bean paste myself, which offers the benefits of a vanilla bean, but more easily and economically :) That said, if you have vanilla beans on hand, they would definitely be nice here :)
This cake looks so light, but hearty enough to support the cranberries. Bravo! Love the sauce, because you know I am a sauce kinda girl. A terrific dessert perfect for the season and beautiful too!
Thanks so much, Tricia :)