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Citrus and Cranberry Buttermilk Cake | Slices of cranberry cake on white porcelain dessert plates with vintage forks, pink linen, tea, and fresh tangerines.

Citrus and Cranberry Buttermilk Cake

  • Author: Laura Bolton - Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: One 9-inch Cake 1x
  • Category: Baking, Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


A simple recipe for a sweet and tart cranberry buttermilk cake. Studded with ruby cranberries and flavored with vanilla, almond, and fresh citrus zest, this tender, one-layer everyday cake comes together quickly, and is a delicious and festive winter treat! Gluten free and egg free friendly.


  • 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour ¹
  • 1/4 cup (28g) fine almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 4 Tbsp (57g or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room-temperature
  • 2/3 cup (132g) + 1 Tbsp (13g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 12 tsp fresh citrus zest ²
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 large egg ³
  • 1/2 cup (120g) buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, halved


  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or line with a parchment paper round. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together with 2/3 cup of sugar and the zest on medium-high speed until lightened and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract, followed by the egg, until smooth and completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, as needed.
  5. Turn the mixer down to low speed, and alternate adding the buttermilk and flour mixture in three batches, ending with the flour. Mix until the flour is mostly combined, then switch to a spatula and fold the rest by hand until no streaks of flour remain.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly from edge to edge. It will be thick. Arrange the chopped cranberries in an even layer on top, cut side down, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just golden brown, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out mostly clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
  8. Serve with plain, with a dusting of powdered sugar, or with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!!


¹ For a gluten free cake: replace the flour with equal parts of a gluten free all-purpose flour blend. I use (148g) of this one from Bob’s Red Mill with great results. I also make this cake with whole grain Spelt flour, which can be found online and in well-stocked grocery stores. If baking by weight, be sure to check your gram conversions! 

² You can use any citrus zest you’d like, but I’m especially fond of fresh zest from Meyer lemons, oranges, or tangerines.

³ For an egg-free cake: replace the egg with a flax egg. Combine 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed with 2.5 Tbsp room-temperature water and let sit for 5 minutes until thickened.

⁴ If using frozen cranberries, I would recommend leaving them whole and adding them to the batter (mostly) frozen.

Adapted from this cake, and originally from Gourmet Magazine.

Keywords: cranberry buttermilk cake, cranberry cake, almond, citrus, zest, simple