If there is a cake that screams Christmas louder than this one, I would love to taste it. You can practically hear it merrily caroling from its antique cake stand! The cranberries are snowy and festive and incredibly easy to make. (Though you do need to make them the night before so plan ahead.) The sugar cranberry process leaves you with a cranberry-flavored simple syrup that would pair beautifully with orange juice and champagne on Christmas morning. Just throwing it out there.
It’s no secret that Fiori di Sicilia is often added to baked goods here on The Rose Table but this is the first time I’ve ever thrown fresh cranberries into a batter. If you’ve never tasted a raw cranberry, take my word for it: they’re sour. Very sour. Inedibly sour. I was so nervous about it that I called my mom while she was babysitting my niece on the morning of my annual Christmas party and said, “Mom, I’m having second thoughts. What if it doesn’t work? What if it’s TERRIBLE? I’ll be mortified!” She simply replied, “Go for it. Just go for it.”
I’m so glad that I did! This is my new favorite cake, possibly of all time. And that’s coming from a staunch chocolate lover. To my basic vanilla cake batter, I added fiori di sicilia extract and fresh cranberries. To my go-to vanilla frosting, I also added fiori di sicilia extract. I garnished with sugared cranberries. This cake is so light and airy, you’ll look up and exclaim, Did I just eat three slices?! Whoops! Tis the season, after all.
Festive Fiori di Sicilia Cranberry Cake
For the sugared cranberries:
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water
For the cake:
2 cups sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
1-1/2 tsp fiori di sicilia extract
4 large farm fresh eggs
2 cups fresh cranberries
For the frosting:
6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp fiori di sicilia extract
4 Tbsp milk
To make the sugared cranberries:
- Bring 1 cup of sugar and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Gently simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- When simple syrup is cool, pour over cranberries and stir to coat.
- Refrigerate cranberries in syrup overnight.
- Remove cranberries from syrup with a slotted spoon (reserve the cranberry-flavor simple syrup for cocktails!) and roll in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. You may need to roll them a few times to totally coat.
- Set cranberries on a paper towel to dry for a hour or so.
To bake the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add butter to the mixer and beat until it looks sandy.
- Combine the milk and fiori di sicilia and add to the mixer. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Don’t forget to scrape the bowl as you go!
- Crack eggs into a bowl. This way, you won’t accidentally get egg shells in your cake batter. With the mixer running on low, add eggs one at a time. Make sure each is incorporated before adding the next.
- Gentle stir in fresh cranberries with a spoon or spatula.
- Pour batter into your prepared cake pans. Softly bang the bottom of the pans against the countertop to help settle the batter evenly in the pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.
- Frost with Fiori di Sicilia frosting (recipe below). Garnish with sugared cranberries.
To make Fiori di Sicilia Frosting:
- Cream together powdered sugar and softened butter with an electric mixer. Start with two cups of powdered sugar and half a stick of butter, alternating additions.
- Slowly incorporate vanilla, fiori di sicilia, and milk. Beat until smooth. Add additional milk or powdered sugar if needed for desired consistency.