One of my favorite holiday flavor combinations is cranberry and orange– crumbles, pies, sauce, and these beautiful little yogurt loaves. They’re moist and light, with pops of bright cranberry and a hint of fragrant orange, and they are perfect with coffee or tea. Though they’re frosted and dusted with sanding sugar, they’re not overly sweet due to the tart cranberries. You can whip up a batch for gifts (or a Christmas morning treat) in under an hour. This recipe will make 4-6 mini cakes, depending on the size of your pans, or 1 large loaf.
You will need:
Baking spray (very important!)
1/2 C butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
1 t vanilla
2 jumbo or 3 regular eggs
1/2 C vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 C flour
2 C fresh cranberries
1 orange (or 2 clementines)
1-1 ½ C powdered sugar
¼ C butter, softened
Sanding sugar or sprinkles (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Set out your pans but don’t spray them yet
Zest the orange. I only had Clementines, so I zested two of them. Set the zest and oranges aside. Rinse your cranberries and throw out any shriveled or rotten ones. Set the cranberries aside.
Cream your butter, sugar, and vanilla together. (You’ll notice I forgot the vanilla… mine were still good, but the vanilla would have made them EVEN BETTER.) Once it’s lightened in color, add your first egg and mix it thoroughly on medium-high. Scrape down the bowl, add the second egg, and mix that until it’s uniform.
Next, add half of the flour, the baking powder, and the salt, and mix that to incorporate it (slowly at first, then a couple seconds on high to really get it mixed well). Then add the yogurt and orange zest, and mix those in (I waited until the end with my zest, but it needed to be a bit more uniformly distributed, which is why you do as I say, not as I do!). Add the rest of the flour and mix until it’s all incorporated.
Stir in the cranberries by hand.
YOUR BATTER IS DONE! Now is when you want to spray your pans with baking spray. This is important! It’s baking spray, the kind that is semi-floury, not cooking spray, the kind that is just oil. ESPECIALLY if you are making this in a mini (or regular) bundt pan, you need to make sure the spray gets in all of the crevices of the tin, or you will cry when you take them out and half of the cake stays in the pan.
Once your pans are sprayed thoroughly, scoop the batter into your pans. These will rise a bit, but not much, so don’t underfill them. Put your tins on a sheet pan and slide it into the oven on the center rack. Set a timer for 40 minutes for mini loaves, 60 minutes for a large one.
When your timer beeps, test the middle of a couple of the loaves with a toothpick. If there is wet batter on the toothpick, keep them in a few minutes longer. If your toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached, your cakes are done!
Take the pan out of the oven and let the cakes cool for a couple of minutes. Loosen the sides of the loaves with a sharp knife, then invert them onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.
While your cakes are cooling, you can whip up some frosting for the tops. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, ¼ cup of butter, and the juice of half an orange to your mixer bowl. Mix it on the lowest setting until all of the powdered sugar is moistened, then whip it on high. You may need to add more orange juice or powdered sugar to get the right texture– 1 ½ C powdered sugar and one Clementine’s worth of juice was perfect for me.
Dip the tops of your loaves in the frosting bowl, then set them upright on the cooling rack to let the frosting ooze gently down the sides. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if you want them to have some extra sparkle!
If you’re giving them as gifts, just make sure to seal the bag you’re putting them in (or wrap them in plastic wrap before putting them in decorative bags) so that they stay nice and moist.
These loaves will keep well, unrefrigerated and wrapped in plastic wrap, for 4 days.