This festive and delicious fresh cranberry skillet cake is the perfect snack cake for the winter season! Studded with tart fresh cranberries and white chocolate chips, this is a tender, moist cake you can bake and serve right in your cast iron skillet!
One recent day, after my oldest had finished school, the girls were roaming about the kitchen discussing their plans. They were bored. Naturally, the best remedy was to ask mom for ideas. Oddly enough, they’d already cleaned their rooms. So when I suggested we bake something, they were thrilled!
We had fresh cranberries on hand, and I’d recently come across a recipe for a cranberry skillet cake. It sounded delicious, and so we gave it a try. It was a huge hit!
After the tiniest tweak to the recipe, it earns a spot on the blog! Mostly because the kids don’t often ask for dessert leftovers. But this recipe, they enjoyed days after baking!
Fresh cranberry skillet cake recipe notes…
What I particularly enjoy about this recipe is the balance of flavor. It’s not too sweet. In fact, without the white chocolate chips, it’s closer to a pancake without syrup level of sweetness than a cake.
This is why, this cast iron skillet cake firmly falls into the snack cake or everyday cake category for me. It’s a bit too casual for a celebration cake, and definitely isn’t a recipe where I’d add frosting.
You can also mix this cake by hand. Use a mixer if you want, but there’s no creaming of anything. Since I have my mini-bakers around when we bake this cake, we use a fork and a rubber spatula. Not fancy, but works perfectly.
The original recipe for this cake called for nuts. I don’t include them, but if you would like to, feel free to swap half or all the chocolate chips for chopped nuts. Walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds would all work nicely.
To give the cake a more “Christmas” flavor, feel free to add a bit of orange zest. Then the flavor profile will be closer to my cranberry-orange bars! So good.
Can I use dried cranberries?
I want to talk about this, because I know this question will come up. If fresh cranberries weren’t so easy to find right now, I’d probably ask the same thing. So let’s pretend this is present-day me talking to April or June me who wants cake.
In theory, yes. BUT, understand that by using dried cranberries instead of fresh you’re not going to get the same result. Dried cranberries don’t have the same tart punch as fresh, which is important for the balance of this cake.
If you do want to use dried, cut the sugar in the cake to 2/3 or 3/4 cup.
Why use a cast-iron skillet?
A cast-iron skillet is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware, hands down! It goes from stovetop to oven to table effortlessly. A well-seasoned skillet is as good as any nonstick pan, maybe better.
If you don’t have a skillet, you can use an 8 or 9-inch cake pan. My cast iron skillet is 9-inches across, so it’s an easy substitution.
I hope you love this recipe, darlings! Happy baking!
- 2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and dried
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoon fresh-grated orange or lemon zest (optional)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (for topping the cake)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Have a 9-inch cast-iron skillet (seasoned - see notes), available. If you don't have a seasoned cast iron skillet, grease and line with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the cooled melted butter, vanilla, and eggs.
- Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Then use a spatula to fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
- Once there are no more clumps of dry flour, pour the mixture into your cast iron skillet. Top with the coarse sugar.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes to set before serving. Slice the cake into wedges or spoon out portions. Serve warm or at room temperature. Any extra cake can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, or covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- You could probably use frozen fresh cranberries, but add a few minutes to the baking time. No need to thaw in advance.
- Using a well-seasoned skillet means that you won't have to worry about the cake sticking to the pan. If your skillet isn't too well seasoned yet, brush with a little extra butter. Then season your pan after so it doesn't stick! 😉
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