This cranberry crumb cake with orange liqueur glaze is the best boozy addition to any holiday brunch

A no-fuss recipe translates into "no stress" — and that's an easy win for any holiday occasion, including Christmas

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published December 12, 2020 4:30PM (EST)

 (Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)
(Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)

If there's one dessert that reminds Salon's resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry of home, it's crumb cake.

"Crumb cake has a certain nostalgia to it, because there was always a crumb cake in my house growing up," McGarry, the owner of the beloved Buttercream Blondie brand, tells Salon. "Whenever a guest would stop by, we would cut off a slice of crumb cake to ensure a warm welcome."

When McGarry developed her recipe for crumb cake, her goal was to recreate that same nostalgia factor. Her cranberry orange crumb cake is the third recipe featured in her series of go-to holiday bakes for Salon Food. It follows raspberry almond thumbprints, which are a creative new twist on classic holiday shortbread, and sprinkled confetti cookies, which reimagine a favorite New York bakery treat.

Because McGarry's apple crumb cake was the top bake featured on Salon Food this fall, the pastry chef decided to return with a holiday spin on the popular dessert. This retro cake combines the same flavorful crumb McGarry is known for on top for with the winning pairing of cranberries and oranges. The contrast of bright cranberries with a spiked orange glaze creates a pairing so timeless that you'll feel like you've been eating it for years.

A good crumb cake is a true "anytime bake," making it the perfect dessert for this untraditional holiday season. This cake makes for a good brunch bake or Sunday bake. It's not too sweet, because McGarry allows the fruit to shine. It is bold enough to serve following your main holiday dinner, and you could even add a a dollop of fresh whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream to create little à la mode journey.

The instructions to this no-fuss bake are easily to follow, but McGarry offers one expert tip to make a perfect crumb, every single time. "You want to make the crumb topping first and set it off to the side while you assemble your cake, so the ingredients have time to absorb the butter," she says.

This cake is incredibly tender thanks to one secret ingredient: creme fraiche. If you can't find any at the store, you can substitute it for sour cream, but creme fraiche really ups the lush factor. A spiked orange glaze with fresh zest also dresses up this bake, while at the same time adding a layer of fresh flavor to every bite. McGarry adds orange liqueur in her recipe to amp up the orange flavor, but you can swap it out with orange juice if alcohol isn't on the menu in your house. 

Whether you're hosting a get-together that's smaller than normal or searching for the perfect holiday gift to give to the foodie in your life, this cake fits the bill for any occasion. Leaving a crumb cake and bag of freshly ground coffee on your neighbor's porch is away to say "happy holidays" from a safe distance. Food-safe plastic wrap and a golden bow are all you need to seal this gift baked with love. 


Recipe: Cranberry Orange Crumb Cake


Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3.5 ounces (7 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted


Crumb Topping

  1. In a medium size bowl, mix together flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Add melted butter and mix together so crumbs form. Set aside.

Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's cranberry orange crumb cake. And don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to bake through it.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Baking Buttercream Blondie Cakes Cranberries Crumb Cake Food Holidays Meghan Mcgarry Oranges Recipe