Hello, chickadees. (This is a greeting my grandmother uses that I adopt from time to time.) How are you feeling these days? Visions of sugarplums dancing in your head yet? Are your stockings hung by the chimney with care?
Your response is probably some where along the lines of this: “Sugarplums?! Please. I’m having nightmares about the check out line at Walmart, how much I’ll get charged to check my suitcase full of hastily-wrapped gifts at the airport and having my mother-in-law critique every element of Christmas dinner. And stockings hung with care? I’ve managed to stick a tree in the corner of the room and it hasn’t fallen over yet, so I consider that a victory these days!”
To call this a stressful time of year is an understatement. So first, breathe. Go make yourself a nice strong cup of coffee and just sit for a few minutes, doing absolutely nothing. Feeling better? Now, there’s nothing I can do about the check out line at Walmart or exorbitant airline fees, but I can help you in the area of the mother-in-law.
Looking for a dessert that looks impressive and tastes festive but can be done with ease? Enter this cranberry orange pound cake. Might I gently recommend making one for yourself and some friends in advance of any holiday festivities, as a survival treat for this time of year? Its pillowy soft interior, with tart bites of fresh cranberries, all dusted in snowy powdered sugar is sure to provide a bit of comfort and calm in this season of festive frenzy.
Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and tossed in 2 tablespoons of flour
zest of 1 large orange
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a bundt pan generously and then dust with flour until well-coated. (You can also use sugar instead of flour, but because we’re dusting this with powdered sugar afterward, I didn’t.) Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Combine granulated sugar and orange zest in a small bowl, working together with your fingers until well-combined and fragrant. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and orange sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and then add vanilla, mixing well. Add the flour mixture a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the cranberries and spoon into the bundt pan, smoothing the top to get an even layer of batter. Bake for one hour, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter or cake stand. Do this by placing your serving plate on top of the bundt pan and holding them together and flipping over in one smooth motion. Just before serving, dust generously with powdered sugar by placing a couple of tablespoons in a small sifter and shaking over the top of the cake. Add fresh cranberries as garnish. Holly would also be festive.
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The Rev. Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.