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.–Cory Schreiber

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

Cranberry Buckle with Crumb Topping

4.84 / 18 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings8 to 12 servings
Calories598 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 25 minutes


For the cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange, preferably organic
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, (for the love of all things good, use full-fat)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

For the crumb topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) chunks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


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.


*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.
Rustic Fruit Desserts

Adapted From

Rustic Fruit Desserts

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 598 kcalCarbohydrates: 82 gProtein: 7 gFat: 27 gSaturated Fat: 16 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 116 mgSodium: 248 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 46 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 Cory Schreiber. Photo © 2009 Sara Remington. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

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.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Yummy!!! I mistakenly put 2 cups of cranberries into the batter. This made it less “cakey.” Soooo moist. Yummy!! For those who might not have an orange on hand, I used 3 teaspoons of orange peel. Many recipes will state “2 cups divided,” that’s a helpful hint. I’m a chaotic cook 🙂

  2. 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.

  3. 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.