Recipe: Cranberry Eggnog Coffee Cake

On a holiday like Christmas, the morning can be a little hectic. Especially if there are little ones around, or dudes like my brother–a child trapped in a mans body–with their minds on what’s under the tree and not what’s in the kitchen. For my family, this isn’t the time for long, lingering breakfasts…it’s a time for coffee and something to snack on whilst tearing through that paper and cozying up on the couch for a few hours before heading to my aunts house for an extended family gathering and feast session.

We try to have something for breakfast that can be baked while the coffee is brewing. It can’t be anything that requires anyone to be sequestered in the kitchen for long, that’s just not right, and it has to be able to bake while the coffee is brewing. Meaning, it can’t take more than an hour, because it doesn’t matter how early my mom and I rise…the rest of the house will soon follow and a battle like that isn’t fit for Christmas morning.

I suspect that this year will be even more of a challenge since my niece is a toddler and we will all be anxious to see her react to the tree, and the gifts, and all of the festive, magical glory that is Christmas. She’s already at an exciting age and this exciting time of the year is sure to be a good memory for us all. I really cannot wait!

This cake would be a perfect Christmas morning treat. It’s pretty and full of holiday flavors–eggnog, cranberries, vanilla, and nutmeg–plus it has a little crumble on top. The jeweled cranberry layer takes on an almost jam-like quality, while the vanilla and nutmeg make the flavor of the eggnog sing. The cake is moist and a little dense in that coffee cake way. It’s delightful, albeit messy, served still a bit warm from the oven, though it keeps well overnight and can be baked ahead…further freeing up your morning for the fun stuff.

Cranberry Eggnog Coffee Cake

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I have made this cake before, with buttermilk instead of eggnog and without the nutmeg. I loved it the first time, but I may like this festive version even more. This cake can be made year-round too with any flavor of jam standing in for the cranberry layer. 

1 vanilla bean split and scraped (save the pod for extract or sugar)

1 3/4 cup sugar

6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon fresh, grated nutmeg, divided

1 stick (4 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon softened butter, divided

2 large eggs

1/2 cup eggnog

confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375F, placing the rack in the middle. Butter a 9-inch springform pan (or cake pan) and line the bottom with parchment. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process sugar with vanilla bean until combined well. Pour vanilla sugar into a separate bowl. Add cranberries and 1/2 cup of the sugar back into the processor bowl and pulse a few times until finely chopped, but not puréed.

In a medium bowl whisk together 2 cups of flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of vanilla sugar with 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour. Blend well with fingers, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with electric beaters,  beat together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl well and alternately add flour mixture and eggnog, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.

Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan, smoothing as best as you can. Spread the cranberries over the batter, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the diameter. Gently spread the remaining batter on top of the cranberry layer, all the way to the edges, and sprinkle with crumble topping.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake (not the cranberry layer) comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the pan–40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 30 minutes before releasing from the pan.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Can be made 24 hours ahead, stored cooled and tightly wrapped at room temperature.


    • says

      Jenny, I would just sub a teaspoon or 2 of vanilla extract. Also, I order my vanilla beans in bulk, online–about a half pound of beans for under 20$, which lasts me a very long time. If you order beans in bulk you can also make your own extract by steeping a few beans in clear alcohol (ie vodka) for 3 months.

  1. says

    I also made coffee cake! mine is the classic way but yours looks extremely good, I love the combination and I’m excited about how it turns out when I make it!

  2. says

    oh my goshness this cake looks so delicious and I totally agree that some things just need to be whipped up and baked asap so that they can then be enjoyed with coffee!

    The site looks gorgeous too by the way, I visited ages ago and now I have the joys of going back through your archives again (but I won’t lose your bookmark again – tee hee hee)

  3. alana says

    Delicious, I made it yesterday. Is different the taste.
    I put instead of fresh cranberries, I put a glass of cranberries already with sugar… I drain them and put a Little of this sugar Juice.
    delicious and of course overnight!!!


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