Cranberry Buckle with Crumb Topping

This cranberry buckle with crumb topping is a tender cake enriched with sour cream and punctuated with tart cranberries. It makes a lovely autumn dessert, breakfast, or teatime indulgence.

A square of cranberry buckle with a streusel top and studded with cranberries.

We’ll take a slice of this sweetly tart mingling of muffin and coffee cake with jolts of burst cranberries in each bite pretty much any time or any way someone cares to place it in front of us. Early morning, late afternoon, early evening, or midnight. Breakfast, last course, or midnight nosh. Alongside coffee, tea, milk, or nothing. Pretty much whatever you fancy, this lovely little coffeecake delivers. Originally published October 31, 2012.Cory Schreiber

Cranberry Buckle with Crumb Topping

  • Quick Glance
  • (9)
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 25 M
  • Serves 8 to 12
5/5 - 9 reviews
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  • For the cake
  • For the crumb topping


Make the cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter a 9-inch square baking pan*.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and orange zest together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, and then add the vanilla. Switch to a spoon and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Fold in 1 cup cranberries.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cranberries over the cake.

Make the crumb topping

Combine the flour, sugars, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low speed until the mixture is the texture of coarse crumbs. Drizzle the vanilla over the mixture and either pulse or mix briefly just until incorporated.

Sprinkle the crumb topping over the cranberries that are atop the batter. (We like that this recipe affords a generous amount of crumbly buttery sweetness atop the cake. But it’s up to youyou really, really, really don’t like crumbs, use just 1 cup or so of the crumb topping and save the rest for another day, stashing the remaining crumb topping in a resealable plastic bag for another buckle and freezing for up to 3 months and saving it for the next time you make this buckle or any crisp, crumble, coffee cake, baked apples, or so on.)

Bake the buckle for 45 to 50 minutes, until lightly golden and firm on top. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack before slicing and serving. The cake will keep, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

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    *Does (Baking Pan) Size Really Matter?!

    • If all your 9-inch square baking pans happen to be held hostage by other holiday recipes at the moment, feel free to swap in a similar but slightly different size pan, although be advised that the resulting baking time and thickness of the buckle may vary slightly. In fact, a 9-inch round pan is about 25% smaller than a square pan, which means the resulting cake would be thicker and the baking time slightly longer. Conversely, a 9-by-13-inch baking pan is much bigger than a 9-inch square, so the cake is thinner and bakes faster. We’ve had testers and readers try this in all size pans with success, so rely on what you have available and keep an eye on the oven, testing the cake for doneness at approximately the time given in the recipe above, or just before or after, depending on the size of the pan.

    Recipe Testers' Tips

    This cranberry buckle is easy to assemble and makes for a beautifully presented dish. I had never worked with cranberries before, which drew me to the recipe, and this buckle showcases them wonderfully. The combination of the tart berries with the tender cake and sweet topping is moist and crisp and crumbly all at the same time, totally delicious either on its own or with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    This cranberry buckle with crumb topping is a great recipe. I ate it both for breakfast and as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I used close to 2 cups of frozen cranberries. I loved the melding of moist cake on the bottom and the coffee cake–like topping. This buckle so was easy to whip up and took an hour to bake in my oven. I’ll definitely be making this again with other fruit, especially since I have a cup of the vanilla crumb sitting in my freezer calling to me.

    Loved this cranberry buckle! Made it for dessert one Sunday night. It was fantastic with vanilla frozen yogurt. The tartness of the cranberries went very well with the light sweetness of the cake itself. This was devoured by everyone at the table and the two pieces left the next morning made a terrific breakfast. Will definitely make this again; next time I’ll make sure I have more cranberries and double the recipe because I’m sure it would freeze very well.

    This cranberry buckle is a great recipe to have—straightforward, reliable, and the buckle is delicious. Frozen cranberries worked just fine, which makes it a good year-round recipe on top of that. Another plus is that you can make the buckle the day before you serve it; we wrapped the leftover buckle tightly in plastic wrap, and found the cake moister the following day, and the vanilla crumb retained the wonderful crusty texture.


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    1. I’m making this tomorrow morning I plan to crank it out before going to work. Would using frozen cranberries alter the baking time? Thanks.

      1. Jenny, the recipe calls for either fresh or frozen, so using frozen ones should not significantly alter the time. Do let us know how it turns out!

        1. The cake was delicious, I made extra and used a 9 x 13 pan. I did find I only needed about half the streusel. It looked exactly like the picture, the cake itself is light buttery. So delicious the whole thing was eaten up thank you. I ended up using fresh cranberries.

    2. The buckle is one I had made before. l used biscuit mix and made the same with two eggs and the sour cream with the sugar. The mixture was just fine until l added the cranberries. We will see how it turns out.

    3. Came out great and a nice alternative to cranberry bread. Perfect amount of sweetness. Will definitely be making this again.

    4. I made this for a potluck and people devoured it. I think it has the perfect amount of sugar allowing the tartness of the cranberries to truly shine. I have already made it 3 times.

    5. This turned out perfect and looks beautiful as well! The cake is moist and buttery and the crunchy, sweet topping makes a nice contrast to the tart cranberries. I had to bake it for 55 minutes.

      1. Sasha, what a gorgeous photo! (And I love the plate.) This recipe is enough reason to buy out all the cranberries in the supermarket and freeze them to make this all year long.

    6. This was wonderful. Came together exactly as written. Its coffee-cake qualities were much better the next day and the crumb adhered better, so if you’re serving for a holiday brunch, make it the day before. Many compliments and people asking for the recipe so they can make it for holiday brunches!

      Stray thoughts:
      -I mixed the orange zest with the sugar and let it sit for a good half hour before creaming with the butter. The sugar absorbed all the great fragrant oils from the zest and turned a bright orange color, and I think better helped distribute the orange fragrance through the buckle.

      -Mine needed a little more time (likely due to the oven I used). However, I would recommend checking with a cake tester and/or thermometer to ensure it is cooked through before removing it. The color/firmness could be misleading due to the color of the cinnamon and the crumb topping crisping up before the cake is set.

      1. Jack V, love that you care for this recipe as much as we do! And love that you shared your tricks. All terrific additions and cautions and we appreciate you sharing them with others! Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday season…

    7. I’m so happy I found this recipe because this cranberry buckle is now one of my favorite fall desserts. I love the combination of sweet and sour in it. And I’m glad that now I can bake something with fresh cranberries because so far I’ve only used dried ones. I also saved the basic recipe for the cake itself—it’s so tender and buttery. I already used it with dried apricots and bittersweet chocolate chips—just pure perfection! Oh, and I forgot to say that I skipped the crumb topping and it’s still delicious.

      A cranberry buckle that has been cut up; topped with cranberries

      1. Magnificent, Anna! And yes, fresh cranberries make all the difference, yes?! We love the extra burst of tartness they bring to this buckle. Love your tweaks to the recipe and so appreciate you sharing them with us and other readers! That’s the whole point of recipes, yes? For cooks to be able to have a lovely experience whether they follow it exactly or use it as a springboard for inspiration. Many thanks for taking the time to let us know how magnificently this recipe worked for you. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next! Wishing you and yours all the magic of the season…

    8. We’ve been very into cranberries lately so as soon as I saw this recipe I saved it. I finally got around to trying it. It was as delicious as it looks. Every taster, I made it at school so that was my entire class and my assistant and boss, loved it. Me too and I didn’t even think it was too sweet (my most common complaint). Easy and yummy, this will go into regular snack cake/breakfast cake rotation.

      The crumb topping is a simple combo which, in fact, I mixed by hand in a bowl. It really doesn’t need to dirty a mixer. I used it all, because 1. The tart cranberries needed the balance 2. It was delicious 3. IMHO it was actually the right amount as any less looked skimpy.

    9. Wow, I really appreciate your reply to my review. Yes, my family did have a wonderful Thanksgiving and this was a wonderful highlight. I hope you had a great one, too.

      BTW, I enjoyed reading the “Leite Loves featured items you wrote about. I’m thinking of getting some chocolate covered beer marshmallows for a friend. What a wild and wonderful idea.

    10. This recipe was absolutely fabulous! I used a 9” square pan and used 12oz of fresh cranberries and all of the crumble topping. This was a total hit with family and friends. The sweet/sour ratio was superb and the cake was very tender. I would highly recommend it and will make it again!! Thank you for the excellent recipe!!!

    11. Tastes great. I made it in a 9-inch round cake pan. It fit well. Took almost an hour to bake through. I made 1/2 the amount of the topping and that was enough. I found the body too buttery, so next time would cut down on the butter by 25 percent.

      1. Thanks for sharing, P Das. It’s always nice to hear how various home cooks tweak a recipe to their own liking—that’s the entire point of cooking, to make it as you like it. Baking is such a science, I’m a little concerned about cutting the butter by that much only because I worry the resulting texture may be a touch dry, but if you try it, please let us know so we can offer that option to readers if you feel it was successful.

    12. I tried the CRANBERRY BUCKLE recipe. It was heavenly, although I forgot to dump the rest of the crumb on the top of cake. I used a 9 x 13 pan so it was not very thick, which is okay with me. This time around I am better prepared and will make 2 cakes – 1 for home, the other to share with friends on Good Friday. Thanks for this great recipe! Hope my picture is good enough…..

      Cranberry Buckle Recipe

    13. Has anyone adapted this recipe to a 9 x 13 pan? Or could I double the recipe and put 3/4 of the batter in a 9 x 13 and the remainder in a cupcake pan?

      1. We haven’t tried it, Cheryl, so I can’t say with certainty that it would work. But I certainly like the way you’re thinking. Let us know, please, if you make these modifications.

    14. Loved this recipe! Flavors complemented each other very well, the crumb topping with the touch of vanilla is the crowning glory. Posted a pix on my Facebook page, too! We shared this gem with neighbors for dessert after Thanksgiving…all asked for the recipe! My only recommendations would be to place the buckle in the top portion of your oven…the sides and bottom scorched a little even though the top appeared lightly golden and firm to touch. I will also start checking a few minutes prior to the 45 minute mark. Two thumbs up!!!

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