Growing up, I was a brazen present-shaker, determined to discern the surprise beneath the shiny paper. Today’s Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake contains a secret too, though I’d recommend taking a giant bite (versus shaking the plate) to find out what it is.
Present guessing was tantamount to a professional sport in my family. My sisters and I would create the most elaborate, far-fetched clues to tantalize each other as we guessed what the gift from the other could be. Stretching of the truth was common and reverse psychology employed at will. On Christmas morning, we’d rip apart the paper to discover whose clues were the cleverest and who’d been the sharpest guesser. We exhausted our parents and had an excellent time.
Now that we’re older, much of the surprise has been replaced by wishlists. Although I appreciate knowing what my family members would like for Christmas (as I shared last week when I posted my Holiday Gift Guide, it’s a source of joy for me to give someone a present they truly love), I do miss the mystery a little.
One area where I do like to maintain a dose of deception is my holiday baking. While I am certainly more lax with the “health” factor of my treats in November and December (hello there, melt-in-your-mouth Mint Brownies), I still enjoy making healthy substitutions where I can…and then hiding them from unsuspecting family members. While my friends and family sing the praises of my “decadent” treats, I sit back and quietly revel in the undisclosed ingredient swaps I employed to keep the goodies lighter for all.
My latest healthy holiday surprise: healthy cranberry coffee cake. A beautiful bundt coffee cake with a tender crumb reminiscent of a pound cake, this cranberry-studded treat will be a star at any holiday brunch.
Why I Love This Delicious Cranberry Coffee Cake
I am unapologetically fussy about my coffee cake. I like my coffee cake sweet, but not too sweet, dryness is not to be tolerated, and a glaze or topping of sorts is obligatory. Extra flavors and mix-ins are needed to keep things fresh and interesting. Oh, and I’d like my coffee cake ready in less than an hour, including baking time. Cranberry sour cream coffee cake is all of the above and more.
I love sour cream coffee cakes, because they are inherently moist and not too sweet, thanks to the sour cream’s richness and tang. They are also easy. Beat butter and sugar together; add sour cream; add dry ingredients. Done.
Sour cream coffee cake is also incredibly versatile, and today’s recipe is an excellent base for any of your favorite coffee cake additions.
To make the sour cream coffee cake festive for the holidays, I folded in a handful of bright, fresh cranberries, along with almond extract. I love baking with fresh cranberries when they’re in season (I also used them in this Cranberry Orange Muffins recipe).
The almond and cranberry taste marvelous together, and I love the surprise pops of cranberry flavor in each slice. An almond glaze completes the picture. Sour cream coffee cake heaven, we have arrived.
So what is my secret holiday surprise? Are you ready? Will you still be friends with me after I reveal the mystery ingredient? I hope so!
This sour cream coffee cake does not contain sour cream. GASP!
In place of sour cream, I used protein-packed Greek yogurt, which has a very similar taste but is much healthier. The Greek yogurt performs the exact same functions as the sour cream in baking—making the cranberry coffee cake incredibly moist and balancing its flavor—and the taste difference between the two is imperceptible. Serve this cranberry coffee cake to your family, call it sour cream coffee cake, and I guarantee that no one will be the wiser!
My final healthy sneak was to make the coffee cake with white whole wheat flour. It adds a slight nuttiness to the cake, which I enjoyed thoroughly with the almond extract and cranberry, though you can swap out regular all-purpose flour if you prefer.
More Coffee Cakes Worthy of a Holiday Brunch
- Pumpkin Maple Coffee Cake
- Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Oat Streusel Topping
- Grandma’s Butter Bundt Coffee Cake
- Strawberry Lemonade Coffee Cake
- Honey Swirled Coffee Cake
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
- Classic Bundt Pan (never sticks, easy to clean!)
- Beater blade stand mixer attachment (no more bowl scraping required)
Put a bow on this cranberry sour cream coffee cake and serve it with pride this holiday season. The secret ingredient can be your gift to your loved ones: a healthier morning, with no fuss, sacrifice, or skimping on taste required.
Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
For the Cranberry Coffee Cake:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt (or full-fat) you can use fat free, but the cake will be slightly less moist
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder I recommend using aluminum free
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries (or frozen and thawed)
For the Glaze:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar plus additional as needed
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a 10-cup or larger bundt pan. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating fully between each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter/yogurt mixture and beat gently until evenly combined. Fold in the cranberries.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, then bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Turn out of the pan onto the rack and allow to cool a few more minutes.
- Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, Greek yogurt, and almond extract until smooth. If you desire a thicker glaze, add additional powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, then slice and serve.
- Store leftover cranberry coffee cake well wrapped at room temperature for up to 2 days.
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