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Cranberry, Pecan and Bourbon Christmas Cake

Cranberry, Pecan and Bourbon Christmas Cake
During the holidays, I do a lot of entertaining – just like I’m sure that many of you do, too. It’s fun to spend the day in the kitchen whipping up elaborate desserts that will really impress guests, but there isn’t always time for that. And there are many desserts that look impressive without requiring a whole day of baking. This Cranberry, Pecan and Bourbon Christmas Cake is an easy-to-make bundt cake that is loaded with warm holiday flavors including sweet-tart cranberries and toasty pecans.

The cake batter is simple to put together, with vanilla extract and orange zest in the batter alongside a generous dose of bourbon. The bourbon also brings a vanilla-y flavor to the cake and gives it quite a lot of depth. While there is quite a bit of bourbon in the cake, the alcohol in it will burn off during baking, so there is no chance of catching a buzz even if you happen to overindulge in this dessert. If you want to skip the bourbon, you can substitute orange juice (freshly squeezed) to bring out more of the orange flavor already in the cake.

Whole cranberries and finely chopped, toasted pecans are folded in just before the batter is poured into a greased bundt pan. Whole cranberries not only look beautiful in the finished cake, but their tart sweetness is a nice contrast to the rest of the cake – especially once you’ve added a generous drizzle of Vanilla Orange Glaze to the top. I opted to finely chop the pecans to ensure an even distribution throughout every slice. If you like, feel free to sprinkle some chopped pecans on top of the cake after adding the glaze!

The cake is moist and dense, with a pound-cake like texture that will almost melt in your mouth. I love how all of these flavors come together and work so well, even though it may seem like there is quite a lot going on in this cake at first glance! The cake will keep for several days after baking when stored in an airtight container. That said, it’s ready to serve as soon as it has cooled, so feel free to cut yourself a slice right away.

Cranberry, Pecan and Bourbon Christmas Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup bourbon*
2 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 cups whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well-combined.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine vanilla, buttermilk, bourbon, orange zest and vegetable oil. Working in two or three additions, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture, ending with a final addition of dry ingredients. Fold in cranberries and chopped pistachios until well-distributed. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack before topping with glaze.

Serves 16

*To substitute out the bourbon, use freshly squeezed orange juice instead.

Vanilla Orange Glaze
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp orange zest
1 1/2-2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

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1 Comment
  • Scarlet
    December 23, 2019

    Well, I love cranberries and pecans so this is calling my name. My husband loves bourbon so I think I can get him to enjoy it too:) Thanks for the Christmas cake recipe:)

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