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Leftover Cranberry Sauce Cake

Cranberry Sauce-Swirled Bundt Cake
Cranberry sauce is a fall and winter staple in my house. Not only do I serve it alongside turkey at Thanksgiving, and with a variety of other roasts during the season, but I also bake with it. Sweet-tart cranberries are a common baking ingredient, but cranberry sauce isn’t necessarily the type of cranberry that gets used in recipes (fresh/frozen whole cranberries and dried cranberries are much more common). Though you might not have used it before, if you’re a fan of cranberry sauce, you’ll want to give this cranberry-swirled Leftover Cranberry Sauce Cake a try.

The cake recipe starts with a buttermilk cake batter that is swirled with cranberry sauce. The cake has a dense, tender crumb that is flavored with both vanilla and almond. It is soft enough to almost melt in your mouth, but sturdy enough to support the weight of the flavorful cranberry sauce.

I usually use homemade cranberry sauce in this bundt cake – this one is pictured with my Cinnamon Cherry Cranberry Sauce – but any whole berry cranberry sauce will work. If your cranberry sauce is very liquidy, try to get more berries than liquid, as it could affect the texture of the finished cake. Cranberry jellies are not a good substitute. While I didn’t add any extra spices to this particular batch, you can definitely add spices to the cake batter if they compliment the spices you may have added to your cranberry sauce. For instance, a tablespoon of orange zest can be added if you are using cranberry orange sauce, and a teaspoon of cinnamon is a nice addition to the Cinnamon Cherry Sauce.

I used a tube pan for this cake, which gives the finished cake a beautiful look and allows me to finish the cake with sliced almonds and sugar. It can be baked in a bundt pan instead, if you don’t have a tube pan. Two thirds of the cake batter should be spooned into bottom of the pan, then the sauce should be spooned on top of that, followed by the remaining batter. I gently swirl the sauce in with a butter knife, but take care not to over-swirl to keep the color of the sauce distinct from the off-white cake batter. If you opt to use a bundt pan, use the same method.

If you like cranberries, this cake is sure to be as popular at your house as it is in mine. It’s buttery and has just the right amount of sweetness to set off the cranberries. So the next time you’re making cranberry sauce, set some aside just so you have an excuse to bake this up!

Cranberry Sauce-Swirled Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tbsp sliced almonds, for topping
1 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vegetable oil, vanilla extract and almond extract. Stir in one half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in remaining flour mixture until no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible.
Spoon two thirds of the batter into the pan, then spoon cranberry sauce evenly on top of it. Spoon on remaining batter, covering the cranberry sauce. Swirl a butter knife gently through the cake batter. Sprinkle on sliced almonds and sugar.
Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with no cake batter on it (toothpick may be slightly red from cranberries). Allow cake to cook completely in the pan, then carefully lift out and transfer to a cake plate to serve.

Serves 12.

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  • Natalie
    November 26, 2017

    This cake looks so good! Do you think using raspberry jam would work in this cake (instead of cranberry sauce)? Thanks!

  • Lee Rand
    November 27, 2017

    Please use grammes equivalent in your recipes. In the EU we don’t really use cups and the ones that sometimes used are of a different size.

  • Nicole
    November 27, 2017

    Hi Natalie, You definitely could try using a raspberry jam, but I would actually recommend preserves – raspberry or otherwise – because the chunks of fruit will be more similar in consistency to homemade cranberry sauce.

  • Betty Hancock
    November 27, 2017

    Saw this and fell in love with the idea! I get a cranberry sauce from Kroger that is called Cranberry Celebration that has pineapple and walnuts in it. Do you think they would work well in this recipe? I don’t want to waste it because I love it that much and don’t have much experience with pineapple being used this way. I’m used to pineapple upside-down cake.


  • Nicole
    November 28, 2017

    Hi Betty, Based on what I know about that sauce, I believe it is on the thicker side, so it should work well in this recipe. Good luck – and let me know how it turns out!

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