Beautiful, moist and easy cranberry breakfast cake, with a delicious vanilla-flavoured crumble, baked in a cast iron skillet for a lovely, rustic presentation.
This cranberry breakfast cake is a winner for so many reasons! First, it bakes up beautifully in a skillet. It is lovely and moist cake inside (thanks to the sour cream), but crunchy on the outside and on top, which is generously sprinkled with a vanilla-flavoured crumble. And then there’s the cranberries, that burst as they cook and infuse the cake with flavour. It’s a thing of beauty I tell you!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Cranberries – You can use fresh or frozen cranberries with this cake. There is no need to thaw the cranberries, but if you start with frozen cranberries, your cake will take a little longer to cook.
Tip! Fresh cranberries will keep up to a year in your freezer, so stock up when they can be found fresh at the market!
Sour Cream – I recommend full fat sour cream, for the best results. The extra fat does wonderful things for the flavour and texture of this breakfast cake. If you don’t have sour cream, a decent substitute would be full fat Greek yogurt or regular plain yogurt.
Orange Zest – The optional orange zest is a great addition for a breakfast or brunch cake, so I highly recommend it if you have it on hand.
- This cake is technically a “buckle”. In case you’re lost in the world of crisps, cobblers and grunts, a buckle has fruit mixed in with the batter and usually, sprinkled on top, as well.
- While perfect as a breakfast cake, this cake would also make a great warm dessert served with ice cream.
- My skillet shown here is 8-inches in diameter across the bottom and 10-inches diameter across the top. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can use a 9-inch cake pan instead. I would suggest lining the bottom of a cake pan with a round of parchment paper, so it comes out of the pan easily.
Making ahead, Storing and Freezing
This cake is best enjoyed freshly baked, though it will keep well for a couple of days when tightly covered and stored at room temperature.
This cake will also freeze well.
Get the Recipe: Cranberry Breakfast Cake
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and levelled
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoons fine sea salt, omit if using salted butter
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste
For the cake:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and levelled
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, reduce to 1/4 teaspoon if using salted butter
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- Zest of 1/2 an orange, optional
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
- To make the topping: combine the flour, white and brown sugars, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is the texture of coarse crumbs. Drizzle the vanilla over the mixture and either pulse briefly to distribute the vanilla. (If you don't have a processor, you can do this by hand by cutting the butter into the dry ingredients). Cover and refrigerate until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. (regular bake setting/not fan assisted). Butter a 10-inch top diameter cast-iron skillet or 9-inch round cake pan. If using a cake pan, line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest together on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Fold in 1 cup of the cranberries. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared skillet.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cranberries evenly over the top of the cake batter, then sprinkle the crumb topping over the cranberries. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top. (Timing will depend on the size of your skillet. My cake took 60 minutes. If your skillet is a bit larger, your cake may take less time. Starting with frozen cranberries will also cause your cake to bake more slowly, so may take a little longer. Check often near the end of cooking).
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!