‘Twelve Days’ day 1: Spiced cranberry orange cake

At my mum’s house, traditionally we wouldn’t put the Christmas decorations up until a couple of weekends before Christmas. However this weekend my sister had popped back home from uni and so with all the Christmas baking plans that I was busy drafting up we decided that we’d break that tradition and get full on into the swing. 

Yesterday afternoon was spent with boxes of decorations all around us on the floor- trying to decide which ones to use and which ones were just a bit too old/battered/silly to put up this year. Nostalgia usually gets the better of us and we end up with a Christmas tree ornament collection that looks so random it is almost an embarrassment to visitors who might not appreciate the odd shaped and badly stitched felt stocking that my brother made in primary school about 20 years ago!

So this year, we tried to keep to more of a theme with just a few of the most important nostalgic decorations allowed permission on the tree. It looks so much better!

We don’t go overboard on decorating the whole house from top to toe, but fairly lights are essential! I love fairy lights- I’d keep them up all year round if I could. They give such a warm happy glow to a space and make me want to twirl around the room! Ok, well maybe that is just me…?

Once the tree was up it was time to sit back with a glass of mulled wine. This year I thought I’d try making my own- it was based on a Jamie Oliver recipe that involves first making a syrup base to mix into the red wine. It was lovely, and I’ve bottled up the remaining syrup to have over Christmas itself. 

Along with mulled wine came dessert... a spiced orange and cranberry cake! This dessert becomes the first of the ‘Twelve Days’ of recipes and is super versatile in that it can be served warm as a dessert with custard, served cold as a slice of cake or even baked in muffin tins.

We ate ours warm with custard (Alpro soya custard in fact as I just didn’t have time to make my own).  Mmmm, it was good- dense, moist, lightly spiced and sweet but not overly so with a crisp tang from the cranberries and a warmth from the citrus and spices. Those who like a very sweet dessert may want to increase the sweetener slightly to compensate for the sharpness of the cranberries.  I imagine this cake would freeze well, but I can’t imagine this one being around long enough to test that out!

Recipe: Spiced cranberry orange cake

Makes one 7” cake


  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup rapadura plus ¼ tsp stevia (add a little extra if a very sweet cake is preferred)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 4 tbs apple puree
  • 2 tbs coconut butter (melted) or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp orange zest or 1 tsp orange extract
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 banana- mashed
  • Small tin of mandarins or two clementines peeled in to segments and roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries partially chopped


Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.  Blend together the wet ingredients (other than oranges and cranberries) in a food processor until well mixed and then add to the dry ingredients. Lastly add the oranges and cranberries to the mixture and mix through gently to break up the oranges but do not over mix. Pour the mixture into a greased  7” round cake pan. Bake at 180C for approx. 25 minutes loosely covering the cake for the final 10 minutes if the top begins to brown before the middle is cooked through.

For a similar cake idea but with a lighter sponge see this post with apples and blueberries.