Pinterest overload+poor memory strikes again.
I wish I could remember which Pinterest creator to cite for this idea...but in all honestly there were probably several! I’d been meaning to try out sugared cranberries on a wreath cake for probably 2-3 years now, and THIS year I finally made the time for it!
SO quick and so easy to decorate, and soo so super cute! I was out for more speed than traditionalism and I didn’t really follow the standard recipe for sugared cranberries; I just rolled them in corn syrup and then in granulated sugar and it seemed to do the trick. But if sugared cranberries are your thing and you want to do it the classic way, more power to you!
Recipe below - happy baking!
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Vanilla Cake Layers:
Note - this is a slightly-simplified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!!
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk in two parts on low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.
The hang time while you’re waiting is a great time to make your frosting and prep your decorations!
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Save and add later – 2-3 large drops of green gel food color (I used an Americolor brand in the video that I can’t buy online anymore, but chefmaster makes great food gels! Here’s a link to their leaf green gel color).
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
Remove about 1/3 cup of frosting from your bowl and stir in 2-3 large drops of green gel color – or the amount needed to get the shade of green you’d prefer. Set aside to use for decorating!
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
- Small piping bag – this set of resusable bags has been one of my favorites!
- leaf piping tip – I used the Wilton #366 leaf tip!
- 6-8 sugared cranberries (I coated fresh cranberries in corn syrup and then rolled them in powdered sugar to save time – here’s a link to a sugared cranberry recipe if you’d prefer the more standard method!)
- Sprinkle mix (optional – I used ‘Silver Bells’ by FancySprinkles)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting.
Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. I usually do this with my large offset spatula.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. I went ahead and left the top edge unfinished for this one. Once your cake is frosted to your liking, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting (10-15 minutes, just so it doesn’t pick up marks so easily while you’re decorating)!
Now you’re ready to decorate!
Transfer your green frosting to your piping bag fitted with the leaf tip. Place one of the tip ‘points’ against the cake, and pipe leaves in a circular pattern on the front side of the cake. (I pre-stamped a circle outline with a large container lid so that I’d have a ring to follow.)
Place 6-8 sugared cranberries in a ring around your wreath, spacing them with sprinkles in between.