Vanilla and Orange Scented Triple Layer Cake with Cranberry Apple Filling

By Irvin Lin

  • Yield:

    1 3-layer cake (8 Servings)


Cake Batter:

  • Zest and juice from 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Cranberry Filling:

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice from 1 medium orange
  • 2 3-inch long cinnamon sticks

Ermine Frosting:

  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Candied Cranberries:

  • 2 cups granulated white sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Fit an 8-inch round piece of parchment paper on the bottom of each the pan.
  2. Make the cake batter by stirring the juice from the orange together with the milk. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of liquid. Pour 1/4 cup of the liquid into a medium bowl and add the eggs, vanilla extract and salt. Beat with a fork or whisk until the eggs are uniform in color and you can’t see any whites.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir the dry ingredients vigorously together with balloon whisk to blend, and then add the butter and the orange milk. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until the batter starts to look really light and fluffy with a creamy white color.
  4. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium low and slowly drizzle the egg liquid into the bowl. Continue doing this until all the egg is incorporated. The batter might look a little broken but that’s okay.
  5. Divide the batter into the 3 pans and bake in the oven 25 to 35 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake will rise and dome but will settle down again once cooled. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper once cool. At this point you can plastic wrap the cake layers and refrigerate them if you’d like for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before assembling cake.
  6. Make the cranberry filling by placing all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and cook on medium high heat, stirring frequently, until all the cranberries have popped and the filling has thickened, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. At this point you can refrigerate the filling for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before assembling cake.
  7. Make the frosting by placing the sugar and flour in a medium saucepan. Whisk together then add the milk. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the liquid. Add the vanilla pod to the pan as well. Whisk to dissolve the dry ingredients and then cook on medium heat, whisking constantly, until the liquid thickens into a pudding like substance. Place a piece of parchment paper on the surface of the pudding and let cool completely.
  8. Once the pudding is cooled, place the butter, salt and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the pudding, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the pudding is incorporated. If the frosting looks like it might break, continue beating together until incorporated, it should come together.
  9. Make the candied cranberries by stirring 1 cup of sugar and the water together in a small saucepan. Cook on medium high heat until all the sugar is dissolved and the simple syrup starts to simmer. Remove from heat and add the cranberries. Stir and let cool in the pan. Let the cranberries steep in the simple syrup, stirring occasionally for 4 to 8 hour (you can refrigerate overnight if you like). Once done steeping, remove from the syrup with a slotted spoon and place in a clean bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar and toss to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet with a wire rack set on top and let dry for 1 hour for the sugar to dry and crust. Once dried, you can store the candied cranberries in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  10. Assemble the cake by first removing the cinnamon sticks out of the cranberry filling. Place 1 layer of the cake on a cake stand or cake platter. Pipe a ring of frosting around the outer edge of the top of the cake layer. Spread half the cranberry filling inside the frosting ring. Place a cake layer on top of the filling and repeat with a ring of frosting and the remaining filling on top. Place the last cake layer on top and frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining cake. Pile the candied cranberries on top of the cake and serve.