Cranberry Almond Christmas Cake

Every year at Christmas time, my family makes cranberry almond cake- a soft, moist cake studded with ruby red cranberries and imbued with sweet almond flavor. It is absolute perfection and for quite some time, I didn’t think it required any changes. However, when I saw that Heather Baird of SprinkleBakes adds almond paste to her own cranberry almond cake, I just had to give it a try using my original recipe. It was delicious. Not only does it make the cake super soft-crumbed and delicious, the almond paste made for a super moist and flavorful Christmas confection. Better than the original, if I do say so myself. The sweet vanilla almond glaze on top is the perfect addition. It’s like a thick rich coating of snow. The sweetness of the glaze complements the tartness of the cranberries perfectly. Better yet, it makes two 8-inch round cakes, perfect for gifting to family and friends or feeding a large crowd on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

Cranberry Almond Christmas Cake

Makes two 8-inch round cakes

Adapted from my family recipe for Cranberry Almond Cake and Heather Baird’s Cranberry Almond Coffee Cake from SprinkleBakes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ cup almond paste
  • ¼ sliced almonds

Optional: Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze (Personally, I find this cake delicious served warm sans icing. However, it’s Christmas, so I had to include a thick snowy glaze on top.)

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk, as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with the brown sugar to coat. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, sour cream, melted butter, and almond extract until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer bowl and combine on low speed until flour is just incorporated. 
  3. Place a quarter of the batter in each of the two prepared cake pans. Spread batter to evenly cover the pans. Top the batter with ½ of the cranberries, dividing among the two cake pans. Then, divide the almond paste between the two cake pans, crumbling the almond paste into tiny pieces. Divide the remaining batter between the two pans, spreading to cover the cranberries and almond paste. Divide the remaining half of cranberries between the two cake pans. Sprinkle the top of each cake with sliced almonds.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto a cake stand (sliced almond side up) and allow to cool completely. (Or serve warm.)
  5. For the glaze, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, almond extract, and 3 tablespoons milk. You want the mixture to be pretty thick, but if it is too thick to drizzle on the cake, add another tablespoon of milk. Drizzle the icing over each of the cakes. Take a photo first- It’s gorgeous!- before devouring!

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