December. How are we here already?
I’ll wax far more poetically about the blur of 2017 at a later date, when I’ve recovered from the shock that is this month.
There are positives to this month, no doubt. The official beginning of winter, the Christmas season, birthdays, birthdays, and more birthdays.
There are five birthdays of special import this month.
That’s a lot of cake.
I’m getting a head start by practicing. Baking, frosting, photographing. It all needs work. Messing up my mom’s birthday cake to the point of disrepair and a deluge of tears kinda hammered that point home.
This cake, though, turned out beautifully. As did the frosting. As did the photos. It started out as cookies. Yes. I made two different batches of cranberry, orange, and white chocolate cookies that were phenomenal (so much so in fact, that I’ll be sharing them as part of my upcoming cookie week. Stay tuned!). Not feeling it was enough, I decided to turn the cookies into a cake that was, quite possibly, more phenomenal. There’s something about the flavor of cranberries and citrus during the winter that just makes my heart sing. White chocolate buttercream ties it all together and everything gets a little sparkle with sugared cranberries (as equally tasty as they are beautiful).
Cranberry Orange Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream (makes 1-9 inch, 3 layer cake)
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 whole eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 orange, zested and juiced, divided
1 recipe White Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with baking spray. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and half of the orange zest until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully encorporated. Scrape down bowl to ensure and even mixture. Stir in vanilla and sour cream.
Working in alternating batches add the dry ingredients to the bowl, followed by half the milk, ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl as necessary and gently stir in cranberries.
Divide batter among prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until cakes are cooked through. The tops will be golden brown and the edges will have begun to slightly pull away from the pans.
Remove to rack to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of pans and allowing to cool completely.
While cake cools, prepare the buttercream.
White Chocolate Buttercream (adapted from this recipe)
12 oz. white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
pinch of salt
reserve orange zest and juice
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the white chocolate and butter. Add in powdered sugar, salt, zest and juice. Whip on medium-high until light and fluffy, adding more powdered sugar if necessary.
Once cake is cooled, slice off any uneven tops to leave you with three level layers. Place one layer on a cake board and cover with a generous layer of frosting, so that the extra overflows onto the sides. Repeat with the second and third cake layers.
Using a bench scrape, smooth the frosting over to create that sought after “naked” look.
Top with sugared cranberries (I used this recipe and it was so cinchy).