Cranberry Ricotta Cake
This brown butter cranberry ricotta cake is the perfect holiday dessert! It couldn’t be easier to make and comes together in one bowl with zero fancy equipment. It’s an amazingly perfect dessert, but it’s also a great breakfast pastry!
I love enjoying a slice with my coffee in the morning. If you take away anything from this ricotta cake recipe, it’s that ricotta belongs in baked goods!
What is Ricotta?
Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese made from sheep, cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo milk whey left over from the production of other cheeses. Now, don’t think of a super savory cheese because that’s not what ricotta is at all. It’s most often seen in lasagna or ravioli, but it’s an extremely mild and creamy cheese making it perfect for enhancing baked goods.
You can also find ricotta in the filling for cannoli! It adds tons of moisture and gives cakes the best texture. I love how versatile it is and you’ll be totally on board once you see how great this cranberry ricotta cake is!
How to Make Cranberry Ricotta Cake
I love that this cranberry ricotta cake is perfect for dessert or breakfast! You don’t need any fancy equipment, like a stand mixer, to make this cake.
Ingredients Needed for Cranberry Ricotta Cake
- Ricotta. Opt for full-fat ricotta here–the fat keeps the cake moist and flavorful.
- Cranberries. You can use fresh or frozen.
- Brown butter. Using brown butter vs regular melted butter adds so much flavor. Follow the directions below on how to brown butter.
- Eggs. You’ll need 3 room temperature eggs for this recipe.
- Dry ingredients. You’ll need granulated sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Vanilla. You’ll need vanilla extract for the cake and the cranberry topping.
- Grand Marnier. This is optional, but adding a bit to the cranberries is so good. You could swap in 1 teaspoon of orange zest.
How To Brown Butter
Making brown butter is so easy and it’s the perfect way to level up your baking.
- Melt the butter. Start with a shallow saucepan and melt your butter over low heat.
- Bubbling. After the butter is melted, it’ll start to bubble a bit. You’ll notice the color will change and the butter will get much clearer.
- Foaming. Next, your butter will start to get foamy. I like to swirl the pan every minute or so while this is happening. The butter will start to brown and you’ll smell the change.
- Browning. Keep a close eye at this stage because it’s easy to burn! You want the butter to just be golden brown at this point.
Once the butter is golden brown, remove it from the heat immediately. Transfer it to a heat-proof bowl and let it cool to room temperature. From here, it’s ready to use in a variety of baked goods! Don’t leave the little browned bits behind, that’s where all the flavor is.
Adjusting pan size
This cranberry ricotta cake is baked in a 10×3″ cake pan. If you have a 10″ springform pan, that can be used also. If you don’t have those pans, I’ve included the instructions to scale the recipe down or up.
- For an 8×8 square pan: Multiply the ingredients by .8 to achieve the correct volume and bake for 35-45 minutes.
- For a 9×13 baking pan: Multiply the ingredients by 1.2 and bake for 45-55 minutes.
ricotta cake recipe variations
I love this cake year-round, even if it’s not cranberry season! If you don’t have or don’t want to use cranberries, below are a couple of swaps.
- Almond ricotta cake: Swap the vanilla extract for 2 teaspoons of almond extract and top with sliced almonds before baking. Omit the cranberries and streusel.
- Lemon ricotta cake. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon zest to the batter and top with the streusel. Omit the cranberries.
- Cherry ricotta cake. Swap in 1 teaspoon of almond extract for the vanilla and substitute the cranberries for 2 cups of pitted cherries.
How to Store Cranberry Ricotta Cake
Whenever I make this cranberry ricotta cake, I always make a bunch because I love it so much! You can cover the cake at room temperature for 3 days. Alternately, wrap individual sliced in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and then microwave for 20 seconds before serving.
Other Baking Recipes to Try
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Cranberry Ricotta Cake
- 1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 16 oz whole milk ricotta at room temperature
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the ingredients until clumpy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the cranberries are soft and burst and most of the liquid has evaporated. Cool to room temperature.
- Preheat an oven to 350 F. Grease a 10x3" cake pan and line with a circle of parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Continue to cook until the butter is golden brown, but not too dark. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and cool. For more detailed instructions on how to brown butter, scroll up to the blog post.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and the brown butter and fold together until the batter is smooth and there are no streaks of flour. Spread the batter in an even layer in the prepared pan and top with the cranberries. Use a fork to break up the bits of streusel and sprinkle over the top.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature before removing it from the pan and slicing. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.