When it comes to Thanksgiving desserts, pie certainly takes center stage, but when fresh cranberries make their debut, this cranberry orange cake demands to be baked. The cake is rich with mellow citrus undertones matching well with the tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the icing. It's a great way to add something different, but delicious, to your holiday table.
When making this cake, it's important to remember that orange zest is just the very outer layer orange peel. It's best harvested from fresh oranges using a microplane. If you reach the white layer, called the pith, your end product will be bitter. Don't fold in the cranberries until the very end, and even then don't over stir. The cut cranberries bake more evenly, but if over mixed they will turn the batter bright pink.
This cranberry orange cake takes well to a variety of toppings, including: orange glaze, whipping cream or buttercream icing. It's even good plain, and can double as Thanksgiving dessert and breakfast the next day.
Cranberry Orange Holiday Cake
1 cup butter
1¾ cups sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest (2 medium oranges or one large)
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup plain greek yogurt
¼-½ cup milk
2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour either a 9-by-9-inch or 9-by-13-inch baking pan, depending on your desired thickness.
With an electric mixer or stand mixer, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add orange zest, eggs and vanilla and beat well. In a second bowl combine yogurt and ¼ cup milk and add to creamed mixture. In a third bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and add to main mixture. Do not over beat. If needed, add up to another ¼ cup of milk to create desired thickness. Fold in cranberries by hand.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth evenly. Bake for 50 minutes and check doneness. A 9-by-13-inch pan will take 50-55 minutes to bake. A 9-by-9-inch pan may take as much as 90 minutes. When cake is cooked through, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely and ice as desired.
Glaze: Whisk all ingredients together and drizzle over cake.