How can it be that Christmas seemed so far away yet now it’s over just like that?  I personally think time moves faster during the holiday season, or at least it seems that way, not to mention as you get older.  But with a new year upon us, there is so much to celebrate and look forward to!

Whether your New Year’s plans involve a quiet night in or a night out, they definitely need to involve something delicious.  This white almond cake with a cranberry almond buttercream is exactly that!  Think wedding cake with hints of winter.  And if you show up to a party with this cute cake, you’re sure to have a conversation starter.

This delicious and eye-catching cake is simple to make and really fun to decorate.  You can make cupcakes or a few cake layers or even a little bit of both.  Try it out and share it with those you love to ring in the new year.  2020, here we come!

White Almond Cake with Cranberry Almond Buttercream

This delcious cake tastes like wedding cake with hints of winter flavors from the tart cranberries. It's sure to be a hit!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Lauren Jones

Ingredients

White Almond Cake

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1⅓ cup water
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 large egg whites

Sugared Cranberries

  • cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries fresh
  • ¾ cup water

Cranberry Almond Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • tsp salt
  • 2-4 T milk

Decorations

  • rosemary sprigs fresh
  • sugared cranberries
  • powdered sugar

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 340 °F. To make the cake, add all cake ingredients except the last 2 in a stand mixer bowl and on medium speed, mix until smooth. If you do not have a stand mixer, use a hand mixer or mix by hand. Add the sour cream and egg whites and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Size and shape of the pans determine baking time. You can do 3-8" or 4-6" round pans. You can also do cupcakes as well and decorate each individually. Grease your pans with butter on the bottoms, sides, and creases of pan and then dust with flour to cover the bottoms, sides, and creases. You can also use non-stick spray, but that doesn't always ensure your cakes won't stick. Pour batter into your pans, as best you can, into even amounts, no more than half full as the cakes will rise when baking. To prevent cakes from being rounded at the top, I use Wilton cake strips, and they are a game-changer in getting level cakes.
  • Start checking the cakes at 30 minutes then every 5 minutes after. The cakes are done when they are set and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Once out of the oven, let the cakes cool. Once cool, turn the cakes upside down onto wax paper, cover with wax paper, wrap with foil, and freeze. Make sure the cakes are stacked evenly in the freezer and the foil or any other objects aren't denting the cakes. Freezing the cake layers will allow for easier decorating and frosting later.

Sugared Cranberries

  • While the cakes are freezing, prepare the sugared cranberries. Bring ¾ cup sugar and ¾ cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Put the cranberries in a large bowl and pour the sugar syrup over them. Let sit for 1 hour. Pour the remaining ¾ cup sugar into a bowl. Drain the cranberries and mix into the bowl of sugar so each cranberry is covered in sugar. Spread the cranberries and sugar on a rimmed baking sheet. Let sit, rerolling the cranberries in the sugar occasionally until dry, about 2-3 hours.
  • For the frosting, cut about ¾ cups of the sugared cranberries in half. Set aside. Save the rest of the sugared cranberries for decorating.

Frosting

  • In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth, about 5 minutes. Slowly add in powdered sugar, salt, and extracts and beat until smooth. Slowly add in milk, 1 T at a time, until you get your desired texture.

Decorating

  • The trick to decorating a cake is using frozen cake layers and room temperature frosting. I use a cake turntable to decorate, but you can use any flat surface that you can turn as needed to decorate. To start, place one cake layer on the turntable or flat surface. Place frosting on top of the layer. Spread evenly and then sprinkle some of the halved sugared cranberries evenly throughout. Place another cake layer on top, firmly press down to ensure it's level, and repeat with the frosting and cranberries. Repeat until all of your layers have frosting and sugared cranberries between.
  • To decorate the top and sides, use an offset spatula to spread the frostingly evenly and level on top. I prefer a more rough naked cake look on the sides so don't shoot for perfect but rather a more natural raw look. Using your offset spatula, add frosting where needed and go around the cake to create a level look. Repeat as needed adding frosting in places and going around the cake until you get your desired look.
  • To finish, transfer the cake to your cake stand. Cut rosemary sprigs in various sizes to reflect trees and place where you would like on the tops and sides of the cake. Puff the rosemary stems out slightly to give it more of a tree look. Add sugared cranberries throughout in assorted places and amounts on the tops and sides of the cake. Using a small sifter, gently sift and sprinkle powdered sugar on the tops and sides of the cake to give a snowy landscape finish. Refrigerate until you are ready to eat it. Enjoy!
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