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White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream Frosting

Every year we host either Christmas or Thanksgiving and I always make anywhere between 10-15 desserts. I like to make some favorites, but also like to try new recipes. I made this White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream Frosting a few years ago and it became a family favorite. It’s one of our family’s top 5 holiday desserts now, so I make it for every holiday that we host now.

Don’t be put off by the time it takes to make this; 9 hours of this is “chill” time. Because it takes a little bit of time to make this, as there are a number of components to this dish, here are some make ahead tips you can do to save time and just assemble the day of serving…

Make Ahead Tips:

  1. You can make the cakes and freeze them ahead of time and pull them out when you assemble and frost the cake. No need to thaw them ahead of time, it’s actually easier to frost them frozen! I typically make the cakes several days ahead of time, then the day before serving I fill them and frost them, while the cakes are frozen, then they thaw overnight and are moist and delicious when eaten.
  2. Make the filling a few days ahead of time and keep refrigerated until ready to assemble. It needs to chill for 8 hours to set, so make sure you do this step a day ahead of time.
  3. Make the frosting ahead of time. Either keep it in the refrigerator or the freezer. Thaw and bring to room temperature before frosting your cake.

Buttermilk Substitution Tip:

  • If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own, or use regular milk. My Mom never had store bought buttermilk, she always made her own this way. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice to whole milk, stir, and allow to set at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, and the milk will begin to thicken slightly like the texture of buttermilk. 

500 recipes like this one can be found in our cookbook “Rocky Mountain Lodge & Cabins’ MORE Favorites Recipes” which can be purchased at our Gift Shop.

And if you’re in the Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak area, plan to have a Tea Party at the Lodge. You can find out more about Tea parties at Rocky Mountain Lodge here.

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Recipe List:
Prep Time: 9 Hours and 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Hours
Servings: 10


  • 1 (12-oz) jar cherry preserves
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (frozen will work too, no need to thaw)
  • CAKE:
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh orange zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (See Buttermilk Tip in description for how to make your own buttermilk if you don't have any on hand)
  • 8 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1 (8-oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (32-oz) pkg (7 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated orange peel
  • 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk



  2. Bring cherry preserves, sugar, orange juice, and 3 cups cranberries to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, 5-6 minutes, or until cranberries begin to pop. Transfer 1 cup cranberry mixture to a small bowl, stir in remaining 1/2 cup whole cranberries (this will be the topping). Transfer remaining hot filling mixtur4e to another small bowl. Cool both mixtures completely. Cover; chill 8 hours.

  3. CAKE:

  4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour three (3) 8-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

  5. In a mixer beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add orange zest and vanilla extract; beat until blended.

  6. In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to wet ingredients, alternating with milk, ending with flour, beating after each addition.

  7. Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir about one-third of the egg whites into batter; fold in remaining egg whites in 2 batches. Spoon into prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes, then remove from pans and peel off parchment paper. Cool completely, about 1 hour.


  9. Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixture 1 to 2 minutes, until creamy. Beat in salt, orange peel, orange juice, and vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar; add enough milk to make of spreading consistency.


  11. Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter. Spoon 1 1/2 cups buttercream into a zip-top or piping bag. Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe a ring of frosting around the top edge of the cake. Spread cake layer with half of the chilled Cranberry Filling (without whole berries), spreading to edge of piped frosting (The piped frosting holds the filling in so it doesn't leak out the sides of your cake.) Top with second cake layer. Repeat procedure with frosting and remaining Cranberry Filling (without whole berries). top with third layer. Spread remaining buttercream over the top and sides of cake. Pipe a ring of frosting around top cake layer just inside the top edge. Spread Cranberry Topping (with whole berries) over top cake layer, spreading to the edge of piped frosting.

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