Drummer Boy Cake

Drum up praise from your guests by serving this stunning Christmas cake.

Drummer Boy Cake Recipe
Drummer Boy Cake

Looking for an impressive finale to your holiday dinner? This spectacular dessert, drummed up by our test kitchen, features a sweet-tart cranberry topping paired with a tangy orange cake and filling.

[ingredients-list title=”Topping” serving_size=””]

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup red currant jelly


[ingredients-list title=”Cake Ingredients” serving_size=””]

  • 1 medium navel orange, unpeeled and quartered
  • 1 package (18 1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • Yellow liquid food coloring


[ingredients-list title=”Frosting” serving_size=””]

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar


  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Yellow and red liquid food coloring
  • 28 fresh or frozen cranberries


[step-list-wrapper title=”How to make topping” time=””]

[step-item number=”1″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a microwave-safe bowl; let stand for 1 minute. Microwave on high for 40 seconds; stir. Let stand until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 1 minute; set aside. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”2″ image_url=”” title=”” ]In a saucepan over medium-low heat, cook cranberries and sugar, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Cool slightly. Stir in jelly and gelatin mixture. Cover and chill for 5 hours or overnight.[/step-item][/step-list-wrapper]

[step-list-wrapper title=”How to make cake” time=””]

[step-item number=”1″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Process orange in a blender or food processor until finely chopped; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat cake mix, 1 cup water, oil, and eggs on low speed until moistened. Add 1/3 cup chopped orange; beat for 2 minutes on medium. Set remaining orange aside for filling.[/step-item]

[step-item number=”2″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Pour batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350°F until a toothpick comes out clean, 28-31 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.[/step-item][/step-list-wrapper]

[step-list-wrapper title=”How to make filling” time=””]

[step-item number=”1″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and remaining water in a saucepan until smooth. Add butter and 1/3 cup chopped orange (discard any remaining orange or save for another use). Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in a few drops yellow food coloring; cool. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”2″ image_url=”” title=”” ] Split each cooled cake into two horizontal layers. Place bottom layer on serving plate; spread with a third of the filling. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread the cranberry topping over top to within 1/2 inch of edges.[/step-item][/step-list-wrapper]

[step-list-wrapper title=”How to frost” time=””]

[step-item number=”1″ image_url=”” title=”” ]In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and extracts. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, alternately with milk, beating until frosting is light and fluffy. [/step-item]
[step-item number=”2″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Using 2/3 cup of frosting, frost cake sides. Tint remaining frosting gold with yellow and red food coloring. Cut a hole in a pastry or plastic bag; insert round tip #8. Fill with gold frosting. Pipe connecting diagonal stripes around side of cake; add cranberries at end points. With star tip #21, pipe a shell border around top and bottom of cake.[/step-item][/step-list-wrapper]

Serves: 12-15

*Editor’s Note: This recipe was prepared with Duncan Hines yellow cake mix. Use of a coupler ring will allow you to easily change pastry tips for different designs.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest