How To Make Cranberry Apple Cake By Ina Garten (Plus Similar Recipes)

There’s nothing better than the smell of baked goods in the air—except when the warming scent of cranberry, apple, and spices accompanies that smell.

As the seasons change, these ingredients become the stars of the kitchen, transforming simple cakes into celebrations of fall and winter.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at one cake in particular – Ina Garten’s Cranberry Apple cake, which is truly delicious.

cranberry apple cake ina garten

As well as showing you how to make it and sharing top tips for the perfect bake every time, we’ll also look at a few of Ina’s other recipes which place warming apple flavors at the front and center.

The bakes we’re looking at today are perfect for cozy gatherings; they promise not only to satisfy sweet cravings but also to create lasting memories.

1. Easy Cranberry And Apple Cake

Ina Garten’s easy cranberry and apple cake is a festive, fruity delight, combining tart cranberries and sweet Granny Smith apples with the zest and juice of oranges for a bright flavor.

The cake starts with a foundation of all-purpose flour, light brown sugar, and a hint of cinnamon, creating a spiced backdrop that perfectly complements the fruits.

The addition of cold buttermilk and an egg binds these ingredients into a batter that’s rich yet light, with melted unsalted butter adding a layer of moistness that’s irresistible.

The magic happens when the cranberries and apples are mixed with more brown sugar, orange zest, and juice and then layered into a pie dish.

This fruit base is then covered entirely with the batter, creating a cake that, once baked, offers a surprise with every bite: bursts of tart cranberry and tender apple pieces.

A sprinkle of granulated sugar and cinnamon on top before baking adds a slightly crispy, sweet crust to the soft cake beneath.

Baking at 325 degrees F, this cake is a study in contrasts: the heat softens the cranberries and apples into an almost jam-like consistency, while the cake itself becomes golden and firm.

The result is a warm, comforting dessert that’s as suitable for a weeknight family dinner as it is for a holiday table.

Serving this cake warm or at room temperature allows its myriad of flavors to shine through, making it a versatile option for any dessert spread.

Our Top Tips For Making The Perfect Cranberry And Apple Cake

To ensure your cranberry and apple cake turns out perfectly every time, consider these top tips.

First, use fresh, high-quality fruit for the best flavor and texture. Tart cranberries and firm Granny Smith apples offer a delightful contrast in tastes.

Grating orange zest finely and squeezing fresh orange juice can add a vibrant citrus note that elevates the cake’s fruitiness.

When mixing the batter, do so gently to avoid overworking the flour, which can result in a dense cake.

Be precise with measurements, especially for the leavening agents, to ensure the cake rises beautifully.

Finally, keep an eye on the oven during the last minutes of baking. Every oven is different, and the perfect moment to take the cake out is when a toothpick comes out clean, but the fruit is still bubbling.

Bonus Recipes: Apple Cake – Two Ways

We promised you bonus cakes, and we won’t let you down. Below, we’ve added another two Ina Garten bakes that showcase apples as the main ingredient.

2. Applesauce Cake With Bourbon Raisins

This applesauce cake with bourbon raisins is a moist, flavorful bake that pairs the sweetness of applesauce with the deep, aromatic warmth of bourbon-soaked raisins.

The process begins by macerating golden raisins in bourbon, allowing them to absorb the liquor, which adds a complex flavor profile to the cake.

The batter combines unsalted butter and granulated and light brown sugar for a rich sweetness, while vanilla extract and room-temperature eggs add moisture and help bind the mixture.

The dry ingredients — all-purpose flour, baking soda, and a blend of warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves — are sifted together, introducing an autumnal scent and flavor that’s perfectly suited to the applesauce’s subtle fruitiness. Chopped pecans are folded in for a crunchy contrast to the cake’s tender crumb.

Baked at 350 degrees until golden and springy to the touch, this cake is a celebration of fall flavors.

The bourbon cream cheese frosting, a creamy topping flavored with more bourbon and vanilla, complements the spiced cake beautifully, making each slice rich and satisfying.

Topped with whole pecan halves for decoration, the applesauce cake with bourbon raisins is an elegant dessert that’s as fitting for a holiday celebration as it is for a cozy night in.

3. Fresh Apple Spice Cake

The Barefoot Contessa’s fresh apple spice cake is a celebration of autumn’s favorite fruit, combining the richness of dark rum-soaked raisins and the crunch of toasted pecans with the fresh sweetness of Granny Smith apples.

This cake stands out for its moist crumb and deep, spiced flavor profile, achieved through the generous use of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

The batter, a mixture of granulated and dark brown sugar with eggs and vegetable oil, is infused with pure vanilla extract and orange zest, adding layers of flavor.

The highlight is the rum and raisin mix, which, after being microwaved, melds into the batter with the toasted pecans and diced apples, creating a cake that’s rich in texture and taste.

Spread the batter into a prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean.

This cake is a rustic, inviting dessert that’s perfect when served warm. A scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce transforms it into an indulgent treat, making it a memorable finish to any autumn meal.

Final Thoughts

These autumn-inspired cakes capture the essence of the season through the use of hearty fruits, warming spices, and rich, comforting ingredients.

Whether you choose the tartness of Ina Garten’s Cranberry and Apple Cake, the boozy sweetness of the applesauce cake with bourbon raisins, or the spiced depth of the fresh apple spice cake, each recipe offers a celebration of fall’s bounty.

Baking these cakes not only fills your home with delightful aromas but also provides a delicious way to gather and share the season’s joy with loved ones.

Ready for more? Try this gingerbread recipe next, or sample Ina’s fruit tarts here.

How To Make Cranberry Apple Cake By Ina Garten (Plus Similar Recipes)

Recipe by Barbara HuntCourse: Ina Garten


Prep time


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  • Choose a cake
  • Gather your ingredients
  • Prepare your cake
  • Enjoy.
Barbara Hunt


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