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Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cake

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This year, start Christmas morning off deliciously with homemade Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cake! Moist, soft orange cake is swirled with juicy, flavorful cranberry sauce and topped off with a sugary sweet orange glaze.

A slice of breakfast cake is being lifted out of a red baking dish.

Cake for breakfast? You betcha!

Let’s be real – every cake is a breakfast cake if you know what’s good for you! But if you’re a recipe purist that needs the title of the dish to give you permission, then voila! This breakfast cake is just the thing you’ve been searching for in the early hours of the morning, craving something zesty and sweet.

This is one of my favorite sweet breakfast treats to whip up on Christmas morning, mostly because of all the delicious cranberry flavor that’s swirled throughout the cake.

In a season that’s chock-full of gingerbread, cinnamon, chocolate, and more, it’s fun to keep things a little light and fresh in the dessert department from time to time.

It’s also pretty fun to serve this breakfast cake to family, since they’re bound to be surprised. When everyone expects cinnamon rolls or pancakes, why not shake things up and break tradition just a bit with a cake in the early morning?!

Since it’s not super thick or topped with lots of frosting like a normal cake, it plates perfectly next to eggs, bacon, and whatever else you’re craving after opening all your presents.

A slice of cake is being lifted from the full red baking dish.

Ingredients for cranberry orange breakfast cake

For the cake itself, you’ll need:

  • Flour – All-purpose flour is what you’ll need to give the cake structure.
  • Baking powder – This is what makes the cake rise as it bakes, and creates that wonderful fluffy consistency.
  • Salt – Just a pinch!
  • Sugar – Just plain white granulated sugar will get the job done.
  • Orange zest – If you don’t have a fancy zester, just use the smaller size side of a cheese grater.
  • Eggs – I like to use free-range organic eggs.
  • Milk – Whole milk is preferred.
  • Vanilla – Use real vanilla extract, not imitation!
  • Orange juice – You can use store-bought, but more power to you if you freshly squeeze it yourself.
  • Butter – Unsalted and melted is what you’ll need.

For the swirl, you only need to have:

  • Cranberry sauce – Make sure you’re using whole berry canned cranberry sauce.
  • Cornstarch – This is the thickening agent that makes the swirl have a real consistency to it.
  • Orange chunks – They should be about 1 inch in size.

The glaze calls for:

  • Powdered sugar – Don’t substitute it with any other kind of sugar.
  • Orange juice

Ingredient substitutions

Cranberry sauce: if you don’t want to use canned (it’s just easier in this case), then you can make your own cranberry sauce!

Can I skip the orange juice in the glaze? To skip out on the additional kick of orange flavor, you can use equal parts of milk or water instead to make the glaze. With that in mind, I highly recommend using orange juice if you can! It adds a lovely extra note of fresh orange without it being too much.

Three pieces of cake are placed on top of one another on a glass cake stand.

Common questions about breakfast cake

Why is it called breakfast cake? It’s just what I decided to name this recipe because it’s the perfect breakfast-type pastry that you would want to see at the breakfast table after you open presents on Christmas morning or any other morning. It gives a cozy vibe.

Are there any other flavors that can be used in this cake? I personally love the cranberry orange combination and wouldn’t switch it up. If you want to leave out the cranberry, then that is the only flavor that could be omitted. Since orange is the base flavor of this cake, you shouldn’t omit it.

A fork is placed on a plate next to a square of cake and orange chunks.

Storage instructions

How long will cranberry orange breakfast cake stay fresh?

In an airtight container at room temperature, this cake will stay fresh for up to 3 days. You can lengthen that time period to 5 days by instead keeping it in the fridge, still in an airtight container.

Can I freeze this?

If you want to freeze this, wrap each slice tightly with plastic wrap and put in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. To reheat, bring to room temperature and use a toaster oven on low heat to reheat until warm.

A fork is removing a bite sized piece of cake from a white plate.

Start your morning off sweetly!

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Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cake

Sweet and tart, this simple breakfast cake is moist with pockets of fruit. The cake itself has a smooth buttercream texture with a mild citrus flavour. An easy and rustic drop style swirl is a simple cranberry mixture with fresh orange chunks that create ‘pockets’ when baked. A thick drizzle with another hint of orange brings together the layers of flavors and textures.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 15 slices
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup melted unsalted butter

For the swirl:

  • 1 cup whole berry canned cranberry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh orange chunks – 1” pieces

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons orange juice

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9×13-inch oven-safe casserole dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, orange zest, eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  • While stirring, add in the orange juice. Once combined, add in the butter. Mix until the batter is smooth and glossy, about 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Pour into the prepared baking pan. Set aside.
  • Mix together the cranberry sauce and cornstarch. Spoon on top of cake batter. Do not smooth or level out, this is meant to create pockets of swirl around the cake.
  • Place orange chunks around the top of the cake as well, keeping them separated around the surface.
  • Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • While cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar and orange juice until smooth. Be patient mixing the juice in, you want it to be on the thicker side.
  • Drizzle sauce around cake.
  • Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 slice | Calories: 288 kcal | Carbohydrates: 52 g | Protein: 4 g | Fat: 8 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 40 mg | Sodium: 228 mg | Potassium: 107 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 31 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Breakfast/Brunch, Cake
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Breakfast Cake, Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cake, Cranberry Orange Dessert, Simple Breakfast Recipe, Simple Cranberry Orange Cake
Recipe Rating




Paula

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

This recipe sounds divine! Am I missing what pan to use for it? Thanks!

Julie Chiou

Friday 3rd of December 2021

thank you for the catch! a 9x13 inch oven-safe casserole dish!