The combination of sweet oranges and tart cranberries makes my kitchen smell like a giant orange pomander.
This Semi-Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is deliciously moist, bursting with holiday flavors, and the perfect seasonal sour cream cake. The combination of sweet oranges and tart cranberries makes my kitchen smell like a giant orange pomander. It's a breeze to make because it all starts with a box of yellow cake mix. That's right ladies and gentlemen, around the holidays, I am lucky just to get everything done in time for guests and giving, let alone do it all from scratch. So, my secret is out. I buy box cake mix, too, and this is what I do with it.
If you are pressed for time and could benefit from a time-saving and show-stopping dessert, take a moment to rest here on the pages of Not Entirely Average, and read to the recipe. I am thrilled to be sharing this go to cake recipe that never fails to impress. Consider this my Christmas gift to YOU! Semi-Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is one the best holiday cakes you’ll ever bake!
Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is one the best tasting holiday cakes you’ll ever bake.
I can nearly guarantee that every ingredient in this recipe for Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake is already in your pantry. Well, all except for the cranberries maybe. Cranberries are not something I tend to keep on hand, fresh or frozen. But before you head out to buy them, keep in mind that this recipe works well with any kind of berry really. It's a show-stopper with cranberries around the holidays. And I'd be remiss if I neglected to give a nod to my new Nordic Ware cast Bundt pan. The heavyweight cast aluminum yields a picture-perfect and thorough bake every time. When this one arrived a few months back, I knew it was time to toss my thin metaled classic bundt I set up home with so many years ago. Heavy cast aluminum is a game-changer. Or is it a bake-changer? Hmmm...
When this cast bundt pan arrived a few months back, I knew it was time to toss my thin metaled classic bundt I set up home with so many years ago.
In terms of flavor, this is like a moist, slice-able Sweet Tart candy. The tartness of the cranberries is perfectly offset by the orange zest both in and on the cake. The use of three extra large eggs is necessary for both fat and stability. Once mixed, you will find the batter VERY loose. Don't fret. This bakes up with the moderate density you'd expect from a sour cream cake, uniquely spongy in appearance, and with a beautifully textured interior. The sugared cranberries stud the flute and give a delightful pop of sour!
Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake bakes up with the moderate density you'd expect from a sour cream cake, and with a beautifully textured interior.
To really amp up the orange flavor here, I add a combination of orange extract and orange zest. If you cannot find orange extract, use the zest of two oranges, divided. Buy fresh cranberries. Ocean Spray cranberries are crisp and bright and I prefer them for any recipe I make with cranberries. Add the cranberries whole. They are crazy delicious and look entirely gorgeous freckled throughout the cake. A quick note about your berries not sinking to the bottom during the bake - I begin with berries in the Bundt pan BEFORE I add my berry-studded batter. And my berry-studded batter is studded with berries that have been tossed in flour. Here we go with the science again, but trust me when I tell you that doing this will save the look of your plated slice. We are going for equitable distribution of berries here.
Whole cranberries are crazy delicious and look entirely gorgeous freckled throughout the cake.
I use this recipe whenever I am pressed for time and I need to whip up a quick cake for decorating. I like the Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist in Butter Golden because it's a little more dense, has superior flavor, and is very moist. When considering which brand of sour cream, I choose Breakstone's, every time and always. It's THICK. Needn't say any more. With the addition of a few fresh ingredients, Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake tastes almost 100% homemade.
Ingredients for Semi Homemade Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 extra large eggs
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of one orange
12 ounces fresh cranberries, divided (plus 1 tablespoon flour)
1 tablespoon melted butter
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Baking The Cake
Grease a 10 to 12" bundt pan with the tablespoon of melted butter. Flour lightly and tap pan on counter upside down to remove almost all excess flour.
Combine the cake mix and the flour and salt and whisk together. Add wet ingredients and beat until just combined.
Toss half of the cranberries with a tablespoon of flour and gently fold them into the batter.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Note that different bundt pans will yield different bake times, so test in several areas for doneness.
Remove from the oven, and cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Sugaring The Cranberries
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
remaining fresh cranberries
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in cranberries and remove from heat quickly.
Using a slotted spoon to remove from the sugarwater, toss the cranberries in the remaining sugar until well coated. Allow about 10-ish minutes to harden.
Stirring Together A Snowy Glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
1 teaspoon orange extract, or can substitute with zest of 1 orange
In a bowl mix confectioners sugar, heavy cream, and orange extract until smooth. I prefer my glaze thick, so I begin with ONLY 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, stir, and add only if my glaze is not able to easily be drizzled. I use a tiny whisk for this step to ensure I break up any lumps.
Drizzle over top of cake, allowing the snowy glaze to run down on the sides. Top cake with sugared cranberries, and add a few fresh greens to accentuate a festive feel.