1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease three 4" cake pans (or 2 6" cake pans) and line bottom with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.
3. Whisk wet ingredients together in a liquid measuring cup, including beans scraped out of vanilla bean, but not the pod itself.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients; stir to combine. Finish by folding with a spatula to eliminate streaks of flour.
5. Pour evenly into prepared pans.
6. Bake until center springs back and edges are golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
7. Allow to cool about 15 minutes before inverting on rack and removing from pans. Cool completely.
1. While cakes are baking, make the cranberry curd. Cook cranberries, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan until soft and berries are popped - about 5-10 minutes.
2. Strain through a fine wire strainer, pushing with a spatula to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids.
3. Place eggs in a small stainless steel bowl; whisk to emulsify. Add a small amount of warm, strained cranberry juice to the eggs and whisk immediately. Pour in the remaining juice. P
4. lace bowl over a small saucepan with an inch or two or simmering water in it. Cook on medium heat, whisking frequently, until thick, about 7-10 minutes.
5. Add butter; whisk to combine fully. Strain into a clean bowl and allow to cool.
Cook cranberries, orange juice, and sugar until berries are soft and popping, 5-10 minutes. Mash gently with a fork and adjust for sweetness as desired. Cool.
Place mascarpone, cream, vanilla, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high just until very soft peaks form (it will continue to "whip" as you ice the cake).
1. Spread a thin layer of cranberry compote on the first cake layer.
2. Follow with a layer of cranberry curd.
3. Top with second layer of cake and press lightly to adhere. (You could also slice each cake in half horizontally so you have more layers of curd and cranberries).
4. Use a small amount of mascarpone to apply a crumb coat. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, at least 30 minutes.
5. Finish frosting cake with remaining mascarpone.
Serve with additional cranberry compote or curd. This cake is best served the day it is made.