This Lemon Cranberry Cake has moist, lemon cake layers with a sweet cranberry filling and is finished with white chocolate buttercream.
I have two lemon cakes I’ve shared on here that I love: Lemon Strawberry Cake and Lemon Cake with Lemon Oreo Filling. Both have the same cake base. For New Year’s, I wanted to make a lemon cranberry cake, but just to change things up a bit, I wanted to do the cake a bit differently.
I decided to do a lemon cake with all butter as opposed to the butter and oil combination I use for the other two cakes. I honestly like both ways equally well, they just have a bit of different tastes and textures.
Lemon Cranberry Cake
I really like cranberries in the winter, so for this cake I wanted a sweet cranberry filling. First, I simmered cranberries and sugar to make a sweet cranberry jam. Since white chocolate and cranberries go hand in hand (in my mind), I made a white chocolate buttercream to finish it off. I served this cake for friends at a New Year’s Eve dinner, and then again at a Valentine’s Day dinner. Both times it was a hit!
Here are a few tips for when making this cake:
- White chocolate tastes great in buttercream, but if you melt white chocolate chips for it, as I do, it does harden a bit in the buttercream. This means that the buttercream doesn’t frost smoothly. So, take that into account when frosting your cake. Instead of aiming for a smooth cake, I would recommend using knife strokes to give it a bit more of a rustic look. Embrace that texture!
- I played around with the cranberry filling to give it my ideal balance of both tart and sweet. I like desserts, or really anything, on the sweet side. If you like things more tart, I would add about half of the sugar I recommend and gradually increase and taste until it reaches the sweetness level you prefer. And who knows, you might even like things more sweet than I do!
- Cranberries look beautiful for decor. Not many people like them on their own. Especially kids. So you might want to take them off before serving.
Lemon Cranberry Cake
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice from about 1.5 lemons
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup sour cream
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
White Chocolate Buttercream
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup shortening
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tbsp milk or whipping cream
- ½ cup white chocolate
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of 3, 8″ round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour sides of pan (I use Baking PAM to do this).
- Use stand mixer with paddle attachment to beat butter and sugar until lightened, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until well combined, and scraping down sides as needed.
- Mix in lemon juice and lemon zest.
- In a small bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Gradually mix into butter mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, until well combined. Scrape down sides as needed.
- Fold in sour cream until well incorporated.
- Divide mixture evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until tops of cake are starting to turn golden and a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out with just a few crumbs.
- Let cool in pans for at least 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Cool completely before assembling.
- In a small pot over medium-high heat, add cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir constantly, using your spoon to smash the cranberries as you stir. Continue to gently boil until mixture has thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Transfer filling to a heat safe sieve over a heat safe bowl. Use your spoon to press liquid through sieve.
- Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before using. Mixture needs to be cool and thick before you use it to assemble the cake (I often make this the night before I need it).
Frosting and Assembly
- In base of a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening until lightened and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Mix in salt and vanilla extract.
- Gradually beat in powder sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. After 1 cup of powder sugar is mixed in, add 1 tbsp milk and mix well. Repeat until desired consistency and sweetness is reached (for me this is 4 cups of powdered sugar and 4 tbsp milk).
- Place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat at 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment.
- Turn mixer on low speed and slowly stream in the white chocolate. Once all the chocolate is in, turn to medium-high speed and beat for about 1 minute.
- Level each layer of the cake. Use frosting to make a barrier around the outside of two of the cake layers. Divide the cranberry mixture between the two barrier layers. Stack the filled layers on top of each other. Place the final layer leveled side down.
- Cover cake in a thin layer of white chocolate frosting. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Remove and continue to frost as desired.
If you enjoyed this Lemon Cranberry Cake, you might enjoy these other SugarSpicesLife recipes:
Links to items used to make this Lemon Cranberry Cake: