Beautiful moist and easy cranberry cake, with a delicious, vanilla-flavoured crumble, baked in a skillet for a lovely, rustic dessert.
I love cranberries and I especially love baking with cranberries. I don’t think you can beat them for providing that lovely tart/sweet flavour combination.
This cake is a winner for a number of 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!
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.
I would recommend this buckle for a warm, Fall morning treat. It’s not too sweet, so it’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, an afternoon treat or even a warm dessert with ice cream. The optional orange zest is a great addition for a breakfast or brunch cake. If serving for dessert, you can go either way.
Cook’s Notes for Skillet Cranberry Vanilla Buckle
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.
With Thanksgiving coming, this is one you might want to keep in mind for your holiday brunch table. It would also be perfect for Christmas. Since it’s cranberry season, now is the time to stock up on cranberries and freeze them. Fresh cranberries will keep up to a year in your freezer!
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.
Easy Skillet Cranberry Vanilla Buckle
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For the cake:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Optional: Zest of 1/2 an orange
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 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. Butter a 10-inch top diameter cast-iron skillet or 9-inch 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).