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Make-a-Cake Series: Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Butter Sauce

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Thanksgiving is coming.
Do you feel it?
I have the perfect holiday dessert for your guests.
It’s also perfect to bring with you and impress your mother-in-law! ha ha

Cranberry Cake with Warm Vanilla Butter Sauce

Looks really good right? 

My grandmother made this every Thanksgiving while growing up.
She also made hundreds of servings for the Masonic Lodge Christmas Party.
And then again, just for me, when we sat together decorating her Christmas tree.
Such a sweet lady.

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I love using cranberries.
I love the bright red color they bring. They add the perfect tartness to this cake.
Then you warm up the vanilla butter sauce and drizzle it over………Mmmmm, it balances the tart with a rich, warm sweet taste.

It’s delicious and looks so festive.

I’m sure many of you have had this or make it yourself. But if you haven’t…….do not miss out!
You’ll love it.

This recipe came from my Grandma and you know how recipes go that get passed down…….you never know where they came from.  (Who knows……you may have the same one.)


2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup cream or half-and-half
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Candied Cranberries:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
remaining cranberries 1-2 cups


Preheat your oven to 350.
Mix together all cake ingredients but the cranberries.
Start with the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients.
After your cake batter is combined (don’t over mix) fold in your cranberries.


Divide into greased loaf pans.
You can use 1 large and two small like me or two large loaf pans or a large 9×13 glass pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

The smaller pans will bake faster.
After baking, let cool for 5 minuntes in the pan. Invert the cakes from the loaf pan onto a cooling rack.
If you used a 9×13, just let it cool in the pan. 

This cake is served room temperature. The sauce will bring the warm element.

Make your sauce.
Combine all ingredients in saucepan over medium low and cook 10 minutes or until sugar is melted, stirring frequently. 

After the sauce cools a bit, I put it in a squeeze bottle for drizzling.
You can find them with candy making supplies. (I bought mine at Micheal’s.)

(Hint: You can make the cake and sauce the day before you serve it.
After the cakes cool wrap them up in plastic wrap for the next day. Make your sauce and then keep it in the fridge in Tupperware or squeeze bottle. Then reheat in microwave before serving.)

Candied Cranberries

Before I serve the dessert, I candied up some cranberries for garnish. I just used the left over cranberries from baking the cake and used the same cooking method as I did from THIS post.

Add the sugar and water to a pan and simmer the cranberries for 10 minutes.
Mine didn’t keep their round shape but still made a great garnish.


Plating your Cake


Slice the small loaves and plate them with 3 of the slices together.
Then heat up your sauce and drizzle all 3 slices with plenty of the sauce……..and place a few candied cranberries on/around the cakes for garnish.
Or you can serve it family style, on a big platter, by slicing up your large loaf. 

Then everyone can take a slice.  Or maybe 2…..I know they will want more!

(Ok, this picture was taken with my small loaf slices, but you get the idea right?)
The holidays are on their way. 

I hope this recipe will add some goodness to your table.

Oh no!  I am overly excited about the food already! Ha ha!

Happy Decorating!


Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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