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+ servings
orange layer cake with cranberry filling and cream cheese frosting

Orange Layer Cake with Cranberry Filling

A soft, fluffy and tender orange cake that’s bursting with fresh orange flavor and filled with a tart cranberry sauce. Coated with my tangy cream cheese frosting.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Assembly Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
YIELD 1 2-layer 9" cake


Orange Cakes

  • 2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Orange zest from 4 oranges (I use the same amount of oranges I use for the juice)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cranberry Filling

  • 1 ½ cups (160g) fresh cranberries, divided
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, unsalted

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ cup (173g / 1.5 sticks) butter, unsalted, softened to room temperature
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch salt


Orange Cakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease or butter & flour two round cake pans (either 9 x 9 inch pans or 8 x 8 inch pans for taller cakes) and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a handheld mixer, whisk together eggs and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed and with the mixer running, add oil slowly until combined. Add orange juice, zest, and vanilla extract and keep whisking slowly until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk just until combined. Don’t overmix.

  4. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the top is browning quickly while baking, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes and then flip upside down to finish cooling completely on a wire rack. Cakes are best made a day in advance from assembly.

  5. Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For the best moist texture, the cake is best served at room temperature. This cake freezes well before it is assembled so if you cover the cake rounds well, you can freeze for up to 2 months, then thaw overnight in the fridge before you need them.

Cranberry Filling

  1. Make the cranberry filling while the cakes are baking. Cook 1 cup of cranberries over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Cranberries will pop and mixture will start boiling. Using a potato masher, crush cranberries.

  2. Reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes while stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in butter and remaining half cup of chopped cranberries.

  3. Place cranberry sauce in a bowl. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of one hour to set. Mine set in the fridge overnight. (Note: If using frozen cranberries, use more time to cook the cranberry sauce.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes.

  2. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and fluffy (Note: If you want a thicker frosting, feel free to add more powdered sugar).

Recipe Notes

Assembling Layer Cake

  • Using a round lazy susan, place a dab of frosting in the middle to keep the cake in place while decorating.
  • These cakes usually bake quite flat with not much center rise. If your cake has a center rise, feel free to cut it down to flat for the easiest cake assembly.
  • Place one 9-inch round cake on the lazy susan. Using a piping bag with a round tip or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut, pipe a circle of cream cheese frosting around the top diameter of the cake. Mine was about 1 inch thick. This will create a nice boundary to keep the cranberry filling in the center of the cake.
  • Place the cranberry filling on the middle of the cake and spread it out toward the edges of the cream cheese using an offset spatula.
  • Place the second 9-inch round cake on top, ensuring it is even with the first cake round.
  • Add a large spoonful of cream cheese frosting to the center top of the cake and use an offset spatula to smooth out the frosting to the edges. Add more frosting as needed.
  • Crumb coat: I did a thin layer of cream cheese over the entire cake first. I refrigerated the cake for 15 minutes to set the crumb coat. Then I continued with another thicker layer of frosting over the entire cake.
  • Garnish with leftover frosting, cranberries, pomegranate arils, herbs like rosemary or thyme, orange zest, and/or coconut for a snowy effect.