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Gluten Free Cranberry Christmas Breakfast Cake

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This mini gluten free cranberry breakfast cake is a must on Christmas morning!  Like a coffee cake, the cake is incredibly moist, sturdy, and topped with buttery streusel.  Fresh cranberries burst into jammy goodness while baking, and the small batch cake is finished with a bright citrus glaze.  

Two slices of cranberry breakfast gluten free cake stacked on a small white plate.

Gluten Free Cranberry Christmas Cake

We can’t forget about breakfast on Christmas morning!  A tradition in my home is to have a sweet bite to go with our morning coffee while we open presents.  I think this small batch cranberry Christmas breakfast cake will fit that requirement beautifully!

This cake is similar to my traditional cherry coffee cake.  Cranberries take the place of cherries, and of course, this recipe is gluten free.  Then I took my love for streusel topping, like the one on the almond coffee cake, and gave it a holiday spin with pecans and brown sugar.

To keep the breakfast cake bright, fresh orange perfumes the cake and icing.  And we know cranberry and orange are supposed to go together!

If this recipe has you inspired for Christmas morning, be sure to check out my homemade flaky croissants, almond croissants, and pinwheel Danish pastries!

Close up of the jammy cranberry center in a slice of Christmas breakfast cake.

Everything To Love About This Cake

  • Sturdy and moist cake – Like a breakfast coffee cake should be!  This Christmas cake is deliciously dense while being incredibly moist.
  • Perfect balance of tart and sweet – The cranberries go into the cake au naturale to allow their tart flavor to combine beautifully with the lightly sweet cake.
  • Fresh cranberries – I have to stress, fresh cranberries are the way to go.  They will burst while baking to make a jammy filling in the center of the cake.  Much like they do in the cranberry crumb bars and gingerbread cranberry bars.
  • That streusel topping! – There is no skimping on the streusel here!  Brown sugar combines with pecans to make holiday inspired topping.  Just check out my Christmas pecan brown sugar cookies!
Pretty cake stand full of slices of cranberry gluten free coffee cake.

key Ingredients for the Breakfast cake

This list highlights important ingredients for the cranberry breakfast cake.  However, the full list is in the recipe card itself!

  • Fresh Cranberries – You can use frozen cranberries that have been thawed and pat dry.
  • Almond Flour – The almond flour provides the structure and protein for the cake.  Use blanched almond flour because it is ground finer without the skins.
  • Sweet Rice Flour – Sweet rice flour combines with the almond flour to make the cake soft and mimics gluten to give the cake texture.  Not to be confused with regular rice flour, which is not the same thing.
  • Xanthan Gum – The xanthan gum is optional, but recommended.  I like to use it in gluten free cakes to make the cake soft and lofty.  Without it,  you may end up with a cake that is a little more dense.
  • Sugar – I use organic cane sugar, though granulated sugar will work.
  • Sour Cream – Use full-fat sour cream to ensure a super moist breakfast cake.
  • Coconut Oil – The coconut oil works as the fat in the cake to provide moisture and texture.
  • Orange Juice and Zest – We use orange juice and zest in the cake and icing.  Orange is a wonderful compliment to the cranberries.  
  • Brown Sugar – Light brown sugar will make the streusel a little more rich and worthy of a Christmas breakfast cake!
  • Pecans – The pecans in the streusel topping add a buttery, nutty flavor, and evoke the holidays!

Bright fresh cranberries burst while baking to make a tart, jammy filling in the Christmas breakfast cake.  Tart cranberries combine with the moist cake and nutty streusel to create a symphony of winter holiday flavors!

Tips For Success

  • Prepare the streusel first – This way you can pop it in the refrigerator to keep it cool while preparing the cake.
  • Make sure the cranberries are dry – We don’t want to add unnecessary moisture into the breakfast cake.  
  • Use xanthan gum – This will make the cake super soft and lofty.  Xanthan gum mimics gluten and binds ingredients along with providing a soft structure to the cake.
  • Let the batter rest before baking – Gluten free batters benefit from time to rest so they can develop flavors and hydrate.  Which in turn, will prevent the cake from being crumbly.
  • Use all the streusel – It will seem like there is way too much streusel topping.  However, it will bake down and result in the perfect ratio of streusel to cake.
  • Loosely cover the cake with foil if the streusel is browning too quickly – We don’t want the streusel to burn while the cake is baking!
Slice of gluten free cranberry breakfast cake on a small plate with a fork.

Icing On The Cake

Literally!   To create flavor harmony in all layers of the cranberry breakfast cake, make the icing with the fresh orange.  Orange juice and zest in the easy icing duplicate the juice and zest in the cake.  

Additionally, the bright citrus glaze on the breakfast cake will create layers of flavor in every bite.  The streusel topping is deliciously rich and the fresh orange will balance it beautifully.

Perfect slices of Christmas coffee cake on a pretty white platter.

FAQ

Will a 1:1 gluten free flour blend work?

Probably not. In my experience, the 1:1 gf blends are much drier than the flour blends I use. Which may require other ingredients and ratios to be adjusted.

Can I bake the cake in a different cake pan?

You can! The cake can be made in a 6-inch round cake pan. Or, you could even try a smaller baking dish. Just keep in mind this is a small batch, so the pan should accommodate for that.

What will happen if I don’t use the xanthan gum?

The cake will still taste delicious without the xanthan gum. The texture just may be a little more dense and the cake will probably not be as lofty.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. Beyond that, and it may start to dry out.


Can I freeze the cake?

Yes, you can freeze the baked cake for up to 3 months. Slice, or leave whole, wrap in plastic and place in a freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature.

Slice of cranberry breakfast cake with jammy cranberry center on a cake server.
Two slices of cranberry breakfast gluten free cake stacked on a small white plate.
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5 from 1 review

Gluten Free Cranberry Christmas Breakfast Cake

Yield: 6 Servings
GF
This mini gluten free cranberry breakfast cake is a must on Christmas morning!  Like a coffee cake, the cake is incredibly moist, sturdy, and topped with buttery streusel.  Fresh cranberries burst into jammy goodness while baking, and the small batch cake is finished with a bright citrus glaze.  
Prep20 minutes
Cook45 minutes
Total1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients
 

Streusel Topping

  • ¼ cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • cup pecans, chopped

Cranberry Breakfast Cake

  • 6 tablespoons blanched almond flour
  • 6 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons full fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk, room temperature (any kind)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice (from half of an orange)
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (from half of an orange)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup organic cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil, melted (or any neutral oil)
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries

Orange Icing

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons orange juice (or water, or milk)
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a 6-inch square cake pan with two strips of parchment crossed to cover all sides. Cut the parchment long enough to hang over the sides of the pan. Lightly grease any corners that are not covered with parchment.

Streusel Topping

  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, sweet rice flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
    ¼ cup blanched almond flour, 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour, 5 tablespoons light brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Add the butter cubes and using your fingers or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened and large crumbs. Stir in the pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes, ⅓ cup pecans, chopped

Cranberry Breakfast Cake

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Note – The xanthan gum will make the cake extra soft and lofty.
    6 tablespoons blanched almond flour, 6 tablespoons sweet rice flour, ¼ cup tapioca flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • In liquid measuring cup or small mixing bowl, add the sour cream, milk, egg, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Whisk together until completely combined.
    3 tablespoons full fat sour cream, room temperature, 1 tablespoon milk, room temperature, 1 large egg, room temperature, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 2 teaspoons orange zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil. Pour the egg mixture into the sugar mixture. Whisk to fully combine.
    ⅓ cup organic cane sugar, 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil, melted
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet and stir until no dry streaks remain. Fold in the cranberries. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes to hydrate and develop flavor.
    ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread out evenly to all corners. Top evenly with the streusel.
  • Bake the cake for 42 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. If the streusel is browning too fast, loosely cover the cake with a piece foil and finish baking.
  • Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, using the parchment overhang, gently lift the cake out of the pan and cool on the rack completely.

Orange Icing

  • Once the cake is completely cool and ready to serve, make the icing.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons orange juice, orange zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. As needed to reach your desired icing consistency, add more orange juice 1 teaspoon at a time.
    ¼ cup powdered sugar, 2 to 3 teaspoons orange juice, 2 teaspoons orange zest, 1 pinch salt
  • Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake, slice, and Enjoy! Leftover cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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RECIPE NOTES

  • Serving Size – This is a small batch recipe.  I can’t say for certain how doubling the recipe will work.
  • Yield – As written, you can get 9 slices of cake from the 6-inch pan.  Less, if you make larger slices.
  • Cranberries – Fresh cranberries are recommended.  Make sure they are pat dry after rinsing.  Frozen cranberries will work if thawed.
  • Orange – You will want 1 orange for the cake and icing.
  • Storing the Cake – The cake will last for up to 5 days covered at room temperature.
  • Freezing the Cake – You can freeze the baked cake for up to 3 months.  Wrap the whole cake, or slices, tightly in plastic wrap then place in a freezer bag.  Thaw at room temperature.
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

NUTRITION ESTIMATES

Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 243mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 283IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you! Click here to learn more about me!

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