Cranberry-Vanilla Bean Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

A sweet-tart cranberry filling and lemon cream cheese frosting are the special additions that make this cranberry-vanilla cake recipe taste like it came from a fancy bakery.

Cranberry-Vanilla Bean Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Photo: Jason Donnelly
Prep Time:
35 mins
Stand Time:
30 mins
Bake Time:
25 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
35 mins


  • 6 egg whites, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2 ¼ cup cake flour

  • 1 ¾ cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

  • ¾ cup butter, softened

  • 1 12 ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel

  • 2 tablespoon orange juice

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • teaspoon ground ginger

  • teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 recipe Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Sugared lemon peel strips and/or sugared cranberries (optional)

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

  • ¾ cup butter, softened

  • 3 ½ cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Milk (optional)


  1. In a small bowl combine egg whites and buttermilk. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9x1 1/2-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl stir together cake flour, 1 3/4 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Stir seeds into buttermilk mixture.

  3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in half of the buttermilk mixture until moistened. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.

  4. Pour batter into the prepared cake pans, spreading evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove layers from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

  5. For cranberry filing, in a medium saucepan combine cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, orange peel, orange juice, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture starts to thicken. Mash cranberries slightly with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Transfer filling to a medium bowl; cool.

  6. To assemble, cut each cake layer in half horizontally. Place one layer, cut side up, on a serving plate; spread with one-third of the cranberry filling. Top with a second cake layer; spread with 3/4 cup of the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. Spread one-third of the cranberry filling over frosting. Top with a third cake layer; spread with the remaining cranberry filling. Top with the fourth cake layer, cut side down.

  7. Frost top and sides of cake with the remaining frosting. If desired, garnish with sugared lemon peel strips and/or sugared cranberries.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Beat in lemon peel and lemon juice. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency.

To Store:

Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

638 Calories
31g Fat
86g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 14
Calories 638
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 19g 95%
Cholesterol 89mg 30%
Sodium 591mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 86g 31%
Total Sugars 65g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 5.9mg 30%
Calcium 171.6mg 13%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 158mg 3%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 48.4mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.2mcg
Vitamin B-6 0mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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