Tart and Sweet Cranberry Cake Bars

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Sometimes you just want something sweet that goes together quickly, especially during the busy holiday season. These tart and sweet cranberry cake bars take just a few minutes to make and are a festive addition to your dessert table!

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Cranberry Cake Bars

Cranberries are a classic traditional holiday flavor. And while I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce, I’m all in on these Cranberry Cake Bars! This recipe uses whole fresh cranberries in the cake batter, that bakes up with a soft texture and a chewy crust. The browned crust on top and along the edges is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

The bright red cranberries woven through the crumb are so festive, making this an ideal holiday dessert. Pieces hold their integrity once sliced – no fork needed! Just pick up the piece and eat it like a brownie or bar cookie. You can also cut the pieces very small, which is perfect when baking these cranberry cake bars for a holiday cookie exchange. But I promise, you won’t be able to eat just one. So you might as well just cut yourself a generous slice!

Ingredients for Cranberry Cake Bars

The main attraction of this recipe is fresh cranberries, which aren’t too difficult to find during the holiday season. Buy a large bag and you’ll be able to replicate this cake recipe several times over. Cranberries are also very reasonably priced, making this a great budget-friendly Christmas recipe. I usually buy several bags, freezing at least one to have on hand. 

Cranberries can be frozen and used in this cake batter. I usually defrost them for a few minutes in the measuring cup before mixing them in. With only 6 total ingredients in the Cranberry Cake Bars recipe, chances are you already have everything you need on hand this holiday season to make this yummy dessert!

You’ll definitely need to use real butter (I don’t think it will come out the same if you substitute). Make sure it’s whipped long enough, following the recipe directions. Since there’s no baking powder or leavening agent, whipping the eggs and sugar well is what makes the cake moist and fluffy. 

Making the Cranberry Cake Bars

The batter for these cake bars is extremely thick. Make sure you’ve buttered your baking dish and then use a spatula to smooth out the top. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The top will be golden brown and have a slight crisp when done. Just keep an eye on the cake while it’s baking and set the time for the low end of the baking range. Add more time if needed.

Despite the “dessert” moniker of cake, this Cranberry Cake Bars recipe is just at home during breakfast or brunch. My daughter and I recently enjoyed a slice in the morning hours, before the rest of the family woke up. This cake would also be perfect served during a North Pole Breakfast!

Tart and Sweet Cranberry Cake Bars Recipe

I found this recipe many years ago on Barefeet in the Kitchen. It has been a family favorite and a Christmas must-have dessert, according to my kids who request it every December! I’m so happy to share it with you here. I hope that you’ll make these Cranberry Cake Bars one of your holiday family traditions.

Tart and Sweet Cranberry Cake Bars

Tart and Sweet Cranberry Cake Bars

Yield: 9x13 pan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Tart and sweet cranberry cake bars

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter a 9 x 13" baking pan and set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat eggs and sugar about 5-7 minutes. Batter should thicken and double in size. Mixture should form a ribbon when beaters are lifted out of the bowl.
  4. Add in butter and vanilla. Mix 2 more minutes.
  5. Stir in flour just till combined.
  6. Add in cranberries and stir to mix.
  7. Spread batter into buttered pan; it will be thick. Use a spatula to smooth the top.
  8. Bake for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned. Toothpick inserted should come out clean.
  9. Cool cake completely before slicing.


This article originally published on Dec 22nd, 2014 and has been updated and republished.

3 thoughts on “Tart and Sweet Cranberry Cake Bars

  1. What a great friend to share such a lovely recipe! 😉
    I bought my cranberries yesterday and can’t wait to make this again!

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