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Sparkling Cranberry Orange Pound Cake

Welcome to Day 8 of the Twelve Days of Pound Cake Holiday Event!

This one is a humdinger. I just love this cake so much.

Sometimes, creativity takes you by surprise. Like when you’re cleaning up dinner on a random Tuesday night and you shout “SPARKLING CRANBERRY ORANGE POUND CAKE” out of the blue. When those moments happen, I’ve learned to go with it.

I get a lot of inspiration for recipes while I’m cleaning my kitchen, Family. Which is great because I clean my kitchen a lot.

That outburst led to a recipe-writing flurry, which led to recipe testing, which led to this:

Thank goodness my poor family is used to my antics. They stopped for exactly one heartbeat, raise an eyebrow or two in silent judgment, and went right back to their regularly scheduled programming.

Seriously, Y’all. They do not react any more. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

About this Cake

Cranberries and oranges are, in my view, an absolutely perfect flavor combination. Cranberries are exceptionally tart, and combined with the right orange (preferably Cara Cara), a good cranberry will hit my taste buds in just the right spot. If you love an amazing homemade cranberry sauce, you already know the deal.

I’m not debating the whole jellied/fresh cranberry sauce thing. I’m just saying, definitively, that fresh is far superior. And I shan’t be debating it. 😂

Yup. I just dropped that bomb right there and walked right out of that fight. Sure did.

ANYWAY

When cranberries and oranges are in perfect alignment, it’s toe curling delicious. Nose squinching delicious. “Tastes like more” delicious. (That one is from my Father-in-Law, Family. He’s got a million of ’em.)

And now you have that perfect alignment in this cake. It’s perfectly tart and perfectly sweet at the same time. It’s not cloyingly sweet because the sugar isn’t doing the heavy lift to balance the tart cranberries; that’s the orange zest! And because the orange zest has its own combination of flavors, there’s a unique flavor profile in this cake that is super yummy.

This dessert hits all the right notes for lemon pound cake lovers who are looking for something a little different. It’s so balanced and delicious that it was difficult to stop eating it.

And the recipe belongs to you now!

Beginners Start Here

If you’ve read some of my recipes so far, you know that this is the section where I share other BwB resources that might help you execute this cake to the best of your ability. Whether you’re new to baking or you’re a seasoned veteran who’s getting back into it, here are some baking resources to help you take your baking to the next level!

These resources are super useful to help you understand the techniques that you’ll need to successfully execute this amazing cake, and all of the recipes on this site.

Important Tools Used in this Recipe

Below, you’ll find some tools that I used for this pound cake, as well as all of the pound cakes in this event. I use these tools in my home kitchen and vouch for absolutely all of them. **I get paid a small commission if you purchase directly from some of these links, but they are truly amazing products that you’ll find in my kitchen.**

If you have them already, great! Think of this as a checklist to help you build the confidence that you’ll need to execute this recipe!

You’re ready for the recipe!

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Sparkling Cranberry Orange Pound Cake

This cake, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, appeals to citrus cake lovers.  It’s the “something different” that your Sunday Dinner and holiday tables need!

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Cake:

  • 384 g flour, plus two tablespoons for greasing the pan
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 230 g butter, room temperature, plus two tablespoons of softened butter for greasing the bundt pan
  • 500 g sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • I tsp orange extract
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 250 g buttermilk
  • 150 g (1.5 c) cranberries, clean and dry (frozen are fine as long as they’re thawed and dry)
  • 1.5 tbsp flour for the cranberries

For the Simple Syrup:

  • 67 g granulated sugar
  • 84 g water
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier/Triple Sec (optional, but exceptionally good)

For the Glaze:

  • 240 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 34 tbsp fresh orange juice (start with 3)
  • .5-1 tbsp heavy cream
  • Decorating sugar, if desired

Instructions

To Make the Batter with a Stand Mixer:

  1. Preheat an oven to a true 325°F.  An oven thermometer is extremely useful to make sure that your oven is at the correct temperature.
  2. Thoroughly clean the cranberries, removing any rotten ones.  Pour cranberries in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels or a clean tea towel to dry.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.
  4. Sift the flour mixture into another medium bowl.  Add kosher salt to the mix and whisk to combine.
  5. Place the room temperature butter in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Mix on low speed until smooth.  (30 seconds)
  6. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  (5-10 minutes)
  7. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing for at least 45 seconds after each addition.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed (I usually scrape the bowl after the third and sixth egg).  This step is essential to cake rise. (7 minutes)
  8. Add vanilla extract, orange extract, and orange zest and mix until thoroughly combined.  (1 minute)
  9. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (30-45 seconds)
  10. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add all of the buttermilk and mix until just combined.  (~1 minute)
  11. Add the second half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until almost combined.  Stop mixing just before the mixture is fully together.  (~1 minute)
  12. Using a rubber spatula, fully scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  Then, mix the batter until it is smooth and consistent.  Make sure to fully scrape the bottom of the bowl!
  13. Place the cranberries in a medium sized bowl.  Sprinkle 1.5 tbsp of flour over the cranberries and stir to combine.  Gently fold the cranberries into the batter with the rubber spatula, until there is a uniform distribution of cranberries.
  14. Prepare the bundt pan with butter and flour, making sure to cover every inch of the bundt pan!
  15. Pour batter into the bundt pan and use the rubber spatula to even it out.  Place the bundt pan on a sheet pan and into the oven for 60-75 minutes.  The cake is done when the internal temperature reaches between 210°F and 215°F.  My preferred internal temperature for this cake is 212°F on the nose.  Alternately, the cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, and a fingerprint bounces back.
  16. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack for ten minutes.

To Make the Batter with a Hand Mixer:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  An oven thermometer will help you determine where you need to set your oven in order to get to a true 325°F.
  2. Combine the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Sift the flour mixture into another medium bowl.  Add kosher salt and whisk until combined.
  4. Place the room temperature butter in a large mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed until smooth.  (~1 minute)
  5. Add half of the sugar and mix until the sugar is just incorporated.  (~30 seconds)
  6. Add the second half of the sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  (7-12 minutes)
  7. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing for at least 1 minute after each addition.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed (I usually scrape the bowl after the third and sixth egg).  This step is essential to cake rise.  (7 minutes)
  8. Add vanilla extract, orange extract, and orange zest and mix until thoroughly combined.  (1 minute)
  9. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (30-45 seconds)
  10. Add all of the buttermilk and mix on lowest speed until just combined.  (~1 minute).
  11. Add the second half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until almost combined.  Stop mixing just before the mixture is fully together.  (1-2 minutes)
  12. Using a rubber spatula, fully scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  Then, mix the batter until it is smooth and consistent.  Make sure to fully scrape the bottom of the bowl!
  13. Using a rubber spatula, fully scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  Then, mix the batter until it is smooth and consistent.  Make sure to fully scrape the bottom of the bowl!
  14. Place the cranberries in a medium sized bowl.  Sprinkle 1.5 tbsp of flour over the cranberries and stir to combine.  Gently fold the cranberries into the batter with the rubber spatula, until there is a uniform distribution of cranberries.
  15. Prepare the bundt pan with butter and flour, making sure to cover every inch of the bundt pan!
  16. Pour batter into the bundt pan and use the rubber spatula to even it out.  Place the bundt pan on a sheet pan and into the oven for 60-75 minutes.  The cake is done when the internal temperature reaches between 210°F and 215°F.  My preferred internal temperature for this cake is 212°F on the nose.  Alternately, the cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, and a fingerprint bounces back.
  17. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack for ten minutes.

To Make the Simple Syrup:

  • After the cake comes out of the oven, combine the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and add the 1 tbsp of Grand Marnier/Triple Sec (if using).  Swirl gently to distribute the liqueur into the simple syrup.
  • After the cake has cooled for ten minutes, invert it on the cooling rack and use a pastry brush to brush the simple syrup onto the entire cake.  Allow to cool completely.  (3-5 hours)

To Make the Final Glaze:

  • Combine the confectioner’s sugar, orange zest, vanilla extract, orange juice, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir until incorporated but lumpy.
  • Add the heavy cream and stir until smooth and just pourable.  If the glaze will not pour, add orange juice, one teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is just pourable
  • Using a spouted measuring cup, a spoon, or a squeeze bottle, pour glaze over the completely cooled cake.
  • Allow the glaze to set up for about five minutes before adding the decorating sugar (if using.)

Notes

  • It’s really important to use a food scale for this recipe.  When we don’t use digital food scales, we tend to be heavy-handed with ingredients.  This could lead to overspill in the oven.
  • This cake is a showstopper and it is big.  It needs at least a 10-cup bundt pan to be successful.  I mostly use 10-cup Nordic Ware bundt pans and it works well in those.
  • If your butter is not quite room temperature when you’re ready to bake, you can cut it into cubes and give it a few more seconds of mixing before you add the sugar.
  • If you don’t have buttermilk, no problem!  You can combine 220 g of whole milk and 2 tablespoons of vinegar (white or apple cider) and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.  Et voilà!  Buttermilk!
  • Author: Shani

Lemon pound cake lovers, meet your new holiday favorite.

See you tomorrow for Day 9!

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