Cranberries are the flavor of the late fall/winter season. They are also a beautiful, vibrant red color that is so seasonal. This lovely Christmas Cranberry Pound Cake captures the cranberries in all their goodness!
What Makes This Cranberry Dessert So Good?
This is a delicious cake. I love the dense pound cake studded with the cranberries and laced with orange zest. It is the perfect combination!
It is a beautiful dessert. Serving this is a pleasure as it is such a pretty dessert. I baked this in a bundt pan, but it can also be baked in a loaf pan as well. Whatever way you choose to bake it, your friends and family will be impressed!
I know this isn’t a healthy recipe, but I tried to make it a little healthier with the addition of whole wheat flour. Keep reading for my recommendations and how to make a great cake that no one will know has wheat flour.
- Butter and oil- I really like to use a blend of both for the most tender cakes that still have that buttery flavor. I use canola oil, but if you are opposed to this, you can always use a mild flavored olive oil.
- Sugar- I generally don’t use this much sugar in my recipes, but cranberries are so tart, it really is needed. In the recipe box, I will add adjustments you can make if you want less sugar.
- Eggs- as with all other pound cake recipes, this is an egg-heavy recipe.
- Vanilla- It doesn’t take much, but is so necessary.
- Orange zest- this is where the orange undertones come from, make sure and use the full amount!
- All-purpose flour
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour- I love to use a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flours in my baking. Whole wheat pastry flour is a favorite for my cakes as it is a lower protein flour that produces a much more tender cake. If you haven’t used it before, I recommend it.
- Baking powder- it won’t take much, as you want a dense pound cake.
- Salt- again, not much used, but necessary.
- Sour Cream- this dairy product adds to the tenderness in your cake, I don’t recommend skipping.
- Cranberries- I prefer fresh, but if you don’t have them, frozen will work, just know they bleed a bit.
How To Make
In a bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Cream your butter, oil, and sugar together. Add in the eggs, one at a time while it is mixing. With the last egg, add in the vanilla and orange zest as well.
Add in the flour mixture and this time only mix to combine.
Roughly chop your cranberries and coat them in a tablespoon of flour. Add them to your batter and mix with a rubber spatula, only mixing to combine.
Pour into your prepared pan. Bake for about 60 minutes, a toothpick inserted should come out clean.
If you are using sugared cranberries for topping, let’s start those while the cake is baking. Make your simple syrup, sugar, and water. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar. Stir in the cranberries until well coated.
Pour them onto a cooling rack over a sheet pan. This will let most of the simple syrup drain. Let these sit for at least an hour.
Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes. Then gently invert onto a cooling rack.
While it is cooling, if the cranberries are ready, sprinkle with the remaining sugar and roll to coat the berries.
Once the cooled slightly, let’s make the cream cheese topping. Mix the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Mix well.
Top the cake with the cream cheese topping, then add the candied cranberries.
Isn’t this beautiful??
There are a few things to note about this Christmas cranberry pound cake that will help you to get the perfect cake the first time.
First, make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature. They will blend together so much better if they are both the same temp.
I like to rough chop my cranberries, I think the whole berries are pretty big in the cake if you don’t. If that doesn’t bother you, keep them whole.
Adding the eggs one at a time to the batter will ensure they are mixed well.
When you add in the flour mixture, make sure not to overmix. This is always important in making cakes, but even more with the wheat flour in this recipe.
I highly recommend whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat flours are just like white flours, there are different levels of protein (and other things). This will greatly affect the outcome of your baked goods. My preferred wheat flour for cakes is always whole wheat pastry!
Do not overbake!! You can test with the toothpick method, which is the easiest. I also like to take the temperature on my cake with an instant-read thermometer. You will want the cake to be about 200 degrees.
Another really important note, make sure and properly prepare your bundt pan before starting. It takes a minute or so, but it is worth it. I like to brush it with melted butter then sprinkle and lightly coat it with flour. DO NOT SKIP THIS.
How To Bake With Whole Wheat Flour
I get asked all the time about baking with whole wheat flour. Most people have had bad experiences with whole-grain baked goods. But, let me tell you, it does not have to be this way!
Not only did I learn to bake with whole grains in culinary school, but I worked at a wonderful whole grain bakery that taught me all about working with a wide variety of whole grains.
Let me share a few tips that will help ease your fears and educate you more on the subject.
The first tip, start in moderation. You will notice this recipe is about half and half. Half refined flour, half whole wheat flour. I really think it is best to start this way.
If you are comfortable baking with whole grains, this is a great recipe to go 100% whole wheat on.
Another note- once the flour mixture is added, do not overmix! This will always result in a tough cake regardless of the flour used but is really important when it comes to whole wheat flour.
The last tip- I always hear of people saying you need to add in more hydration with wheat flours, which is true, but in the case of cakes, cookies, muffins, etc. Baking time is much more important.
What do I mean by that? Make sure you do not overbake. All baked goods will continue to bake even after they are removed from the oven, this is called carry-over cooking. This is REALLY important to understand when baking with whole grain flours.
They will absorb more liquid, so if you bake it perfectly in the oven, it will continue to bake after it is taken out and become really dry.
How do you solve this? Under bake just slightly. This recipe and the times given are designed with this in mind!
It can! This recipe is designed to go either way.
Exactly like the original. When you do a blend of whole wheat flour and white flour, you can get a baked good with almost exactly the same texture as the original.
The reason for this is the cake is too delicate when the cake first comes out of the oven. Giving it time to sit will help it to have a little more structural strength. Don’t leave it in too long though!!
Other Cranberry Recipes
- Easy Cranberry Syrup
- Chicken salad with cranberries and pecans
- Cranberry orange mocktail
- Linzer cookies with cranberry filling
- Cranberry Swirl Loaf
- Apple Cranberry Pie
- Cranberry orange star brioche
Christmas Cranberry Pound Cake
- 10 cup bundt pan
- 1 ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons for flouring your bundt pan.
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter
- ½ cup canola oil or other neutral oil of choice
- 5 eggs room temp
- 2 cups granulated sugar you could easily reduce this to 1 ½ cups, or even 1.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons orange zest
- ⅔ cup sour cream
- 1 ½-2 cups fresh cranberries rough chop
- 1 tablespoon melted butter for buttering your pan.
- ½ cup granulated
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
Orange Cream Cheese Icing
- 3 tablespoons softened cream cheese
- 2 ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 3-5 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush your bundt pan with the melted butter. Then sprinkle in the flour and tap to coat the pan. Set this aside. In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt. Set this aside.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer or hand mixer, add the butter, oil, and granulated sugar. With beaters, mix until the batter is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until they are all mixed in.
- Add in the vanilla, sour cream, and orange zest. This time only mix to combine.
- Next up is the flour mixture. Add this in and mix only until it is combined. Do not overmix at this point.
- Last in is the cranberries. I like to mix these with a rubber spatula. Pour into your prepared pan and then into the oven.
- Bake for 60 minutes. Check with a toothpick or instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and allow this to cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan. Then carefully invert onto your cooling rack.
- I do this by putting the rack on top of the cake, then turning it over while still holding the cake to the rack.
- While the cake is cooking, let's start the cranberries. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small/medium pan. Once the sugar dissolves, this only takes a few minutes, remove from the heat and add in the cranberries.
- Swirl them around to coat with the simple syrup. Once they are covered, pour them onto a cooling rack sitting on top of a baking sheet. Let them drain and dry slightly for about an hour.
- Then move them to a bowl and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. I like to do this in 2 batches so you aren't crowding and they all get covered well in the sugar. Set them aside until the cake is ready.
Orange Cream Cheese Icing
- Combine all the ingredients for the icing. Mix well until it is smooth. Pour over the cake and top with the sugared cranberries.