Basic Small Batch Cake Recipe

If you’re cooking for one or two people, you can never have too many small-batch cake recipes to choose from. This one is tender, buttery, and loaded with seasonal fresh fruit. Even better, you can bake it in an oven or a toaster oven!

Baked cranberry orange snack cake in a small blue baking dish.

My favorite thing about this small snacking cake (and why I think you’ll like it too) is how easy it is to adapt to the seasons.

In the summer we like to make it using blueberries, raspberries, or half a chopped peach.

But during colder months, cranberries are my go-to. Especially when they’re paired with a little orange juice and zest. The combination is so refreshingly tart and bright!

Cranberry cake ingredients arranged on a table and labeled.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Orange: zest and juice
  • Cranberries: Fresh or frozen. If cranberries are out of season in your area, blueberries or blackberries are good substitutes.
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Egg
  • Milk: dairy or non-dairy
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • All-Purpose Flour: Provides the cake’s structure along with a light and tender crumb. While we haven’t tested the recipe with a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour, some of our readers have with great results.
  • Baking Powder and Salt

Gathering the ingredients and bringing them to room temperature takes the most time. After that, everything comes together pretty quickly.

How to Make This Mini Cake

Step 1: Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350°F. Grease a small baking dish with butter or oil so the cake won’t stick. For this cake, we used our favorite 7 x 5 baking dish.

Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine, then set aside. 

A glass bowl with sugar and orange zest and whipped butter.

Step 3: Amp up the orange flavor by beating the orange zest and sugar together until fragrant. This will release some of the orange’s natural oils and enhance its flavor throughout the cake.

A glass bowl with cake batter, fresh whole cranberries, and a blue rubber spatula.

Step 4: Make the batter. Add the butter to the orange sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Then, add the egg, vanilla, and orange juice and beat until smooth.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the milk, beating after each addition:

  • Start by adding half of the flour
  • Then half of the milk
  • Pour in the remaining flour
  • And ending with the remaining milk 

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is combined. Then fold in the cranberries (reserving a few for topping).

A small blue baking dish with cake batter and a baked cake.

Step 5: Bake the cake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and plop the reserved cranberries over the batter.

Bake until the cake is golden all over and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. About 20 to 25 minutes if you’re using a 7 x 5-inch baking dish.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then grab a cup of coffee or glass of milk, and serve yourself up a piece! 

Squares of tender cake on parchment squares with whole cranberries.

Recipe Variations

  • For a fun sparkly topping, sprinkle a little sugar over the batter before baking.
  • Add some crunch and mix in chopped toasted almonds, walnuts, or pistachios.
  • For an extra-sweet treat, dust the cooled cake with a little powdered sugar.

Can I use a different baking pan?

Yes! We’ve made this recipe in a mini loaf pan (3 x 5.75 x 2.5-inch), a large loaf pan (8.5 x 4.5-inch), and a small round cake pan (6 x 2-inch). The cake may bake faster or slower depending on the pan used so make sure to check out the recipe card notes for the correct baking time.

Cranberry bread in a mini loaf pan tied with a red ribbon.

More Small Batch Baking Recipes

Overhead view of cranberry cake in a small baking dish.

Small Batch Snack Cake

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes

This mini snacking cake is perfect for any season! For a summery berry cake, swap the orange for lemon and use fresh blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries.


  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Orange Zest, about half a medium orange
  • 1/4 cup (48 grams) Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Large Egg (52 grams, weighed outside of shell), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Orange Juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Milk
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) Fresh Berries (we used cranberries), rinsed and dried


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. If using a toaster oven, adjust the cooking rack to the bottom position, and select the BAKE setting.
  2. Lightly butter a 7 x 5-inch baking dish or spray with cooking oil.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, add the orange zest and sugar. Using a hand mixer set on low, beat the zest with the sugar until the sugar takes on a light orange color, about 30 seconds.
  5. Next, add the butter to the sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Beat in the egg, orange juice, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  7. On low speed, add the flour in two parts, alternating with the milk. Begin with the flour and end with the milk. Beat just until combined.
  8. Set aside a few of the cranberries, then gently fold the remaining cranberries into the batter.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to smooth into an even layer. Top with reserved cranberries and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  10. Bake until the cake is golden on top, browned around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. About 20 to 25 minutes.
  11. Cool the cake in its pan for 20 minutes before slicing and devouring.


Flour - You can substitute an equal amount of white whole wheat flour. The cake will be darker in color and won’t be as light and tender but is still pretty tasty.

Frozen Berries - Thaw slightly while you prep and measure the other ingredients. If you add the berries to the batter when completely frozen it can cause the butter in the mix to harden making the batter difficult to spread.

Storage - Leftover cake can be stored in a covered container on the countertop for up to 3 days. Or wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to two months.

Baking Pan Times

  • 6 x 2-inch round cake pan - Bake at 350°F for 20 to 23 minutes
  • 8 x 4-inch Loaf Pan - Bake at 350°F for 15 to 18 mins
  • 3 x 5.75 x 2.5-inch Mini Loaf Pan- Reduce temperature to 325°F and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Summer Berry Snack Cakes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 of Recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 9.9gSaturated Fat: 5.8gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 141mgCarbohydrates: 25.7gFiber: 0.9gSugar: 13.2gProtein: 3.5g

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I’ll use freshly-picked blueberries (yes – it’s that time of the year here in Australia!) but would orange go with blueberries?

    1. Hi Janet!

      This cake is perfect for any type of berries, especially freshly picked blueberries! I’m always so jealous of the southern hemisphere this time of year 🙂

      Oranges and blueberries go together quite well, I like to put orange zest in my blueberry muffins. Though you could also swap the orange juice and zest with an equal amount of lemon for a more traditional lemon + blueberry combo.