This cranberry and walnut bundt cake with its crown of frosted cranberries makes a great festive centrepiece and is large enough to feed a crowd. Post in collaboration with Robert Welch.
Entertaining at Christmas is so deeply ingrained in me, having grown up with a mother with a real gift for it, that live for these festive dinners every year. It is rather a shame that my husband and I have no family in the UK – most of his is in Canada and most of mine in Greece.
Nevertheless the lavish Christmas feasts are still a staple in our house, even if it is just the four of us and the dogs. And I usually strong-arm friends and neighbours to come over for as many dinners as possible.
Is there an art to Christmas entertaining? Well, yes, there definitely is and I only discovered it rather late in life. The secret to seemingly effortless dinner parties is planning, scheduling and preparing – the three things I am probably least proficient in. If are looking for disorganised chaos then I am your girl 😉
But since starting the blog I have had plenty of practice in cooking several complicated recipes at once and I am finally starting to really enjoy entertaining. I usually plan every meal in reverse, starting with the dessert. Not only can you prepare most desserts in advance, having something ready that I know people will enjoy gives me a real sense of control. If time doesn’t allow for complicated desserts, there’s always cake – this festive cranberry and walnut bundt cake will last you several days without losing its freshness.
After the dessert is taken care of, I move on to the main which anchors the dinner. Once I know what the star of the show is, I can plan the side dishes, salads and drinks around it. I usually don’t bother with a formal starter, preferring to offer canapés and cocktails to get the conversation going. I usually hand the bartending duties to my husband though, while I make the nibbles and catch up with friends. Having a little help is definitely one way to win at Christmas!
Since we remodelled our kitchen, I finally have a space large enough to house a big farm table and several miss-matched chairs. Table decorations are usually foraged greenery and flowers from the garden, flickering candles (now that the children are finally old enough) and little twinkly lights. My tableware echoes the higglety pigglety chairs – as a food blogger I have enough plates to serve dozens, none of which matches.
This year however I will finally have beautiful – and matching – Hidcot cutlery set thanks to Robert Welch, who know a thing or two about the art of Christmas. And since this is the blog’s 5th birthday, Robert Welch are offering a lucky reader the chance to win their classic cast iron Hobart nutcracker – scroll to the end of the post for a chance to enter.
This year has been my first proper year as a full-time blogger and it has been a very exciting, slightly scary, and very busy 12 months. I have worked with many fantastic brands, started working with video and expanded my circle of food blogger friends. It is that food blogging community, online and off, that has kept me going and wanting to grow and improve year after year.
If you are looking for a simple bake that will feed a big crowd with ease, may I volunteer this festive cranberry walnut bundt cake with frosted cranberries? It’s so easy to make, will keep fresh for several days, and even makes a beautiful centrepiece with its crown of frosted cranberries. You could also use redcurrants or even frosted grapes to decorate instead. I have used the Nordicware anniversary 12-cup bundt tin in this recipe – you could use a diffently shaped bundt tin but you mind need to adjust the baking time accordingly. If you wish to bake this as a layer cake, then take a look here.
- Dry ingredients
- 330 g | 12.6oz plain flour
- 330 g | 11.6oz caster sugar
- 60 | 2oz walnuts ground to a powder
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch ground cardamom
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 200 g | 7oz cold unsalted butter cubed
- 200 ml | 7fl oz whole milk + 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 140 g | 5oz fresh cranberries halved + 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 large orange
- For the glaze & to decorate
- 450 g | 1lb icing confectioners sugar
- a little milk/orange juice as needed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 g | 3 1/2 oz fresh cranberries
- 1 tbsp egg white 1tsp sugar
- granulated sugar to frost the cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray a 12-cup bundt tin with cake release or brush with melted vegetable shortening and dust with flour. Make sure every nook and cranny is covered otherwise you will have trouble turning the cake out in one piece.
- 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.
- Slowly the eggs, 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.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared tin, levelling the top.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out clean and cake is coming away from the edges of the pan – 55-65 minutes.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then carefully turn out on a plate or cake stand.
- Mix the icing sugar with enough milk or strained orange juice to create a thick but pourable glaze.
- Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, letting it drip prettily down the sides.
- Use a fork to whisk 1 tbsp egg white with 1 tsp of sugar until frothy. Toss the cranberries in to coat then sprinkle with granulated sugar to achieve the 'frosted' look.
- Arrange the frosted cranberries around the base or on the top of the cake while the glaze is still a bit tacky (don't eat the frosted cranberries they are very tart).
You could use red grapes or currants instead of cranberries on top of the cake.