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Cranberry Buckle with Orange Glaze has fresh, seasonal cranberries baked in a simple cake with a cinnamon crumb top. Serve with a simple orange sugar glaze.
A simply delicious cranberry cake with orange glaze
Cranberry Buckle with Orange Glaze is an easy and delicious recipe that’s perfect for the busy holiday season.
This recipe is based on a 100+ year old blueberry buckle recipe that a friend shared with us many years ago, and it’s so good – it has more than stood the test of time!
This Cranberry Buckle with Orange Glaze comes together quickly and bakes up into a heavenly, sweet cake with fresh cranberries throughout, and a cinnamon sugar and buttery crumb topping.
We also added an optional (but highly recommended) orange glaze – a flavor that perfectly complements the sweet tart cranberries.
Why is this called a “buckle”?
A buckle is a vintage term for a single layered cake that is interspersed with berries. The cake has a streusel-like crumb topping which “buckles” as it cools.
Blueberry buckles are among the most common varieties, but fresh cranberries are a wonderful option for the fall and winter seasons. Or, make a mixed berry buckle during the summer when fresh fruits are at their peak.
Why you’ll love Cranberry Buckle with Orange Glaze
- Sweet tart cranberries in a perfectly moist cinnamon-topped cake and orange glaze are flavors that are a match made in heaven.
- A piece of this buckle is wonderful with morning coffee on Christmas morning, or as a sweet treat anytime during the holiday season.
- It’s simple to make so you can freshly bake it at a moment’s notice.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Cranberries – We used fresh, in-season cranberries, but frozen cranberries will also work for this recipe. (If using frozen, no need to thaw them – just mix them into the batter before baking.)
- Shortening – Use shortening rather than butter to give this cake a lighter texture and to achieve the “buckle” as it cools. See our Baking Note below about swapping in butter.
- Granulated Sugar – Used in both the cake batter as well as the topping.
- Milk – At the time this recipe was written, whole milk was likely all that was available. We’ve always stuck with full fat milk, but you could swap in 2% or 1% for a slightly less rich cake.
- All-Purpose Flour – Used in both the cake batter as well as the topping. You’ll also need a little flour to coat the pan.
- Baking Powder
- Salt – For baking, unless specifically stated, we always use table salt rather than the more coarse kosher salt.
- Ground Cinnamon
- Butter – For the topping, we typically bake with unsalted butter. In this case, salted butter can also be used if that’s what you have on hand. (Adding salt to sweet desserts can enhance the flavors.)
- Confectioner’s Sugar – Also called powdered sugar, this is used to make the glaze.
- Orange Juice – Also for the glaze.
Why use shortening instead of butter in this cake batter?
- Shortening is 100% vegetable oil, while butter is a combination of milk fat and water.
- When used in baking, the water in butter will evaporate from the heat of the oven, leaving only butter fat behind. This creates a denser cake – which is sometimes preferred in recipes such as Boston Cream Pie or biscuits.
- This 100+-year-old buckle recipe used shortening – giving the cake a lighter and less firm texture – plus it also allows the “buckle” to occur as the cake cools. It’s also entirely possible that shortening was used as a more budget-friendly ingredient.
Special Tools Needed
- 9×9-inch baking pan or dish – You can also bake this in an 8×10-inch cake pan (but it won’t make enough batter for a 9×13-inch pan)
- Mixer and mixing bowl
- Smaller bowl
- Sifter or whisk – To whisk dry ingredients together
- Rubber Spatula
- Pastry cutter or two knives
- Toothpick or cake tester
How do I make Cranberry Buckle with Orange Glaze?
- Mix up the cake batter.
- Stir in the cranberries.
- Pour into a baking dish.
- Top with a buttery crumb topping.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool.
- Drizzle with orange glaze before serving. (You can add more glaze to each serving if you’d like.)
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I use butter instead of shortening? See the Baking Note above for a detailed answer to this question.
- Can I freeze this recipe? A freshly-baked buckle will always be best, but you can freeze this cake up to a month or so. Just be sure to cool completely and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn.
You might like these other Cranberry Recipes:
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For the cake
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup shortening (aka Crisco)
1 large egg
3/4 cup whole milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
Additional shortening and flour to prepare the baking pan
For the topping
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into half inch pieces
For the glaze*
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Grease and flour a 9×9-inch pan or baking dish. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and mix until blended. Then add the milk and mix again until blended.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture slowly until blended (do not over-mix).
- With a rubber spatula, stir the cranberries into the batter, mixing evenly throughout.
- Spread the cranberry cake batter evenly into the prepared pan.
- In a small bowl, make the topping: Whisk together sugar, flour, and cinnamon. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over the cake mixture in the pan.
- Bake at 375 degrees 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan.
- Just before serving, make the glaze by whisking orange juice and powdered sugar until smooth – you want the glaze to be slightly thick but still thin enough to drizzle. (Add more orange juice or powdered sugar to adjust the thickness.)
- With the same whisk, drizzle the glaze over the top of the buckle.
- Cut into squares for serving. Drizzle with more glaze* if desired.
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*The ingredient amounts listed for the glaze will make enough to add a nice drizzle of the orange glaze to the top of the cranberry buckle before cutting into servings. If you want to serve with additional glaze over the top, double the amount of glaze that you make.
You can also serve this Cranberry Buckle with ice cream or whipped cream on the side.