Okay I give up. I am in full Christmas holiday mode and I just can’t hide it any longer! It’s been a couple of weeks of working on festive recipes, pinning ideas on Pinterest and trying to decipher my kids’ Santa list (which might as well be written in another language – no idea what half the toys they want even are).
So instead of sensibly saying “it is still November” I have embraced the whole shebang and put twinkly lights in the living room, festive candles on the mantle and even some Christmas tunes on the playlist. Whether this means I have peaked too soon and will be wanting to run an hide in December remains to be seen…
I had some leftover fresh cranberries from making cranberry sauce earlier this month and so this Festive Cranberry, Orange and Walnut Layer Cake idea was born. I wanted this to be the blog’s anniversary recipe (Supergolden Bakes turns 3 on December 1st! ) but when I decorated the cake today everything went slightly pear shaped. So I decided to post the recipe now and make something else special for the blog’s birthday. Maybe something other than a cake for once. Any ideas or requests, leave a comment below : )
I baked this in 15cm/6in tins but the layers are really quite deep. You can bake in 9 inch tins – the layers will be slightly thinner. The frosted cranberries are simply gorgeous and so festive but just there for decoration – they are too tart to eat so make sure you remove them before serving the cake (to children especially – they think it’s candy). Instead of the cranberries you could use caramelised orange or clementine slices which are equally pretty and actually edible. Or a combination of the two!
If you are making Uk/US conversions this table might prove useful.
- For the cake
- Dry ingredients
- 350 g | 12.3oz | 2¾ cups plain all purpose flour
- 330 g | 11.6oz | 1⅔ cups caster sugar
- 60 | 2oz | 1/3 cup walnuts ground to a powder
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 200 g | 7oz | ¾ cup + 1 heaped tbsp cold unsalted butter cubed
- 200 ml | 7fl oz | ¾cup + 2 tbsp whole milk + 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 140 g | 5oz | just over 1 cup fresh cranberries halved if big + 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 orange
- For the frosting
- 500 g | 1lb 2oz | 2 cups full fat mascarpone
- 200 g | 7oz | 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 200 g | 7oz | 2 cups icing powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- about 1/2 jar cranberry sauce to fill
- handful fresh cranberries to decorate
- 1 tbsp egg white + 1 tsp sugar
- granulated sugar to frost the cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line your cake tins. Dust with flour.
- Grind the walnuts to a fine powder in a food processor or blender.
- Add all the dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine.
- Add the cubed butter and mix for a couple of minutes until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Gradually add the milk, vanilla extract and orange zest and beat together on low speed.
- Once the milk has been incorporated, increase the speed and mix together for a few minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Toss the cranberries in the flour to coat, then fold into the batter.
- Divide the batter between the prepared tins and level. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and the tops are firm and springy. Cool completely before frosting. You may need to level the layers before assembling the cake.
- Whip the mascarpone, vanilla and icing sugar on low speed until combined. Increase the speed and beat together until smooth.
- Gradually add the cream and whip until the frosting is smooth and you have firm peaks. Take care not to over whip. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip.
- Pipe a ring of frosting around the rim of the bottom layer and fill the centre with cranberry sauce. Top with the second layer and repeat. Add the final layer.
- Smooth some frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Leave some of the cake showing through to achieve the 'naked' cake look, or do a crumb coat then chill the cake, then add another layer of frosting and smooth over the cake.
- Use a fork to whisk 1 tbsp egg white with 1 tsp of sugar until frothy. Brush over the fresh cranberries and leave to dry slightly. Sprinkle with granulated sugar to achieve the 'frosted' look. Arrange over the top of the cake (do not eat!).
Taste the frosting for sweetness – if you prefer it on the sweet side you might want to add a bit more icing sugar.
This conversion table might be useful https://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/hints-tips/cheat-sheets/us-cups-conversion-table