Cranberry Lemon Bundt Cake
Cranberry Lemon Bundt Cake

If you haven't already absolutely finalized your Thanksgiving dessert plans, I think you should make room for this cake, maybe even bump something (or someone) off (just kidding) and demand its inclusion. With a brown sugar caramelized cranberry topping and a dense, moist, lemony, pound cake-like interior, not to mention the visual factor, this simple cake pretty much hits perfection. I made this over the weekend just to "test" it out again, and there is an alarmingly small piece left! If you like cranberries and lemons, it's just one of those cakes that calls out to you and you are helpless against cutting off a little slice every time you pass by the kitchen!

I can't really ever talk about a bundt cake without thinking about the mother in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and imitating her. If you've seen it, you know what I mean, and if you haven't, then get yourself that movie and enjoy a good laugh. It's hysterical. 

Now back to this wonderful and easy-to-make cake. There's only one snag here--you've got to remember to generously grease the pan with softened butter, even if it's a non-stick kind, or half of the luscious sweet/tart mixture of brown sugar and cranberries will be stuck to the pan and not your cake. I've learned the hard way, so be forewarned. So...once you've excessively buttered all the little crevices in the pan, you simply sprinkle a layer of brown sugar into the bundt and then top that with a layer of the cranberries.

Next you make a simple cake batter that gets its moistness from buttermilk and its delightful flavor from both lemon zest and lemon juice, and pour it on top of the berries in the pan.

When you invert the pan, you hold your breath and hope for the best and if a few cranberries stick to the pan, you can scrape them off and place them back on the cake and tell yourself it's supposed to look homemade and rustic!! Believe me, once your guests taste this, they won't mind at all!

Every bite is that perfect combo of tart berries covered in a gooey brown sugar syrup and tender lemon-y cake. It's the kind of cake that lends itself just as well at brunch as it does for dessert or with a cup of afternoon tea, which means that even if you can't manage to strong arm this cake onto the Thanksgiving table, you should still buy a bag of cranberries and make this sometime soon. Like maybe today! Who's gonna stop you now?!! The dessert police?!!

Cranberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Makes about 12-16 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes; Bake Time:  50-55 minutes


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus at least 1 more tablespoon softened to grease the pan
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

The Recipe

1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Very generously butter a 12-cup bundt pan, making sure to get into all the creases and crevices. Then sprinkle the bottom evenly with the brown sugar and top with the cranberries. Set the pan aside.

2.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside.

3.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place the granulated sugar and the lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar, until the sugar is thoroughly infused with the oils released from the lemon zest. Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down and beating until each egg is fully incorporated.

4.  Add the lemon juice to the buttermilk and mix well. Turn the mixer to low speed and on three additions add the flour mixture to the batter, alternating with the buttermilk, so that you begin and end with the flour. Mix only until no traces of flour are left. Don't over mix.

5.  Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a tester inserted into the cake part (not the gooey cranberries) comes out clean and the top is golden brown and set. If tester still comes out with liquid batter on it and top of cake seems to be getting too brown, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and bake until tester comes out clean. 

6.  Transfer cake to a rack and allow to cool completely. When cool, loosen cake from sides of pan with a thin knife if necessary. Then invert onto a large platter or plate and remove pan. If some of the cranberry goo has stuck to the pan, spoon it back over the cake.

7.  Cake can be made one day ahead and stored, covered at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days.


Note:  Recipe adapted from Annie Eats. I left out the glaze because I thought it was just perfect on its own!

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