This Cranberry Orange Pound Cake is a deliciously subtle blend of sweet and tart with a divine orange glaze. This festive-colored cake is perfect for Christmas breakfast, holiday party desserts, or DIY gifts!
We’ve been baking up a storm as we get ready for the holidays. Normally at this time of year, my mom and my sister, and I all get together and have a cookie-baking day.
It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions, but this year we weren’t able to do it for a variety of health and scheduling reasons converging all at the same time.
So, I’ve taken that baking energy, and I’ve been spending it here at home!
I have been wanting to make orange cranberry bread for at least 2 or 3 years but was so busy making things like cookies and hot cocoa bombs that I never go around to it.
So this past weekend, I decided it was time to try it. I wanted to make DIY gifts for my neighbors because we do a little homemade goodie exchange every year.
And oh my goodness, I am THRILLED with how this recipe turned out!
Bake this orange cranberry pound cake just one time, and I bet you will make it every year after. I’m NOT kidding!
Orange Cranberry Pound Cake
This recipe is pretty much perfect: it’s easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and comes out bursting with festive holiday flavors.
This cake has subtle flavors that come together into one insanely delicious (but not overbearing) dessert. Cranberries bring the tart, while orange juice adds a citrusy sweetness that both complements and balances out the cranberries.
With its rich, tender, buttery crumb texture, this cake is PERFECT for the holidays!
Start with the pound cake base and add some orange juice, orange zest, and fresh cranberries to bring a touch of tart acidity. Drizzle a simple glaze on top, and you’ve got the best orange cranberry pound cake you could dream of.
How To Make Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
Making this process is similar to making a quick bread – it’s THAT easy!
This pound cake calls for pretty common ingredients, but each one serves an important role. The results are a marvelous crumb that you can’t get enough of!
- Butter – Softened but not melted. Butter is the base of pound cake. Some people say to use unsalted, but I used salted without any problems.
- Sugar – To help with creaming the butter and to add sweetness to balance out the tart cranberries.
- Eggs – Provide structure to the cake and bind all the ingredients together.
- Orange zest and juice – Add a bright citrusy flavor.
- Sour Cream – Keeps the cake from drying out.
- Fresh Cranberries – some versions use cranberry sauce or dried cranberries, but I love going the simple route and using fresh cranberries. Yum!
- Flour – I used all purpose flour, but cake flour would make a lighter, flluffier recipe.
- Baking Powder – leavening agent so the cake rises.
- Salt – Enhances all the flavors.
- Vanilla – Adds additional depth of flavor.
For the glaze:
- Orange Zest
- Orange Juice
- Powdered Sugar
- Orange zest
- Dried Cranberries (chopped)
Cranberry Orange Pound Cake Directions
The process for making orange cranberry pound cake is super simple! Here are step-by-step instructions.
Preheat the oven to 350 and butter two 9×5 loaf pans.
In a large bowl cream together butter, sugar and orange zest.
Add vanilla and add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until well incorporated.
Add in sour cream and orange juice and mix well.
Add in remaining dry ingredients and continue mixing until everything is well mixed.
Fold in the cranberries with a spatula or wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans and spread it out.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester placed in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool for about 30 minutes in the pans, then remove them from the pans and allow to cool completely (about 30 minutes) on a wire rack before glazing.
Make The Glaze
- Mix powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a medium size bowl until well incorporated.
- Place the cakes on parchment paper or other surface to catch any drips.
- Spread the glaze evenly across the tops of the cakes.
- Sprinkle with dried cranberries and orange zest if desired.
Slice and serve.
Cranberry Orange Pound Cake Tips
Although making pound cake is very easy, these tips will help ensure optimal results:
- Level the flour – Scooping could result in using too much, leaving you with a heavy, dry cake. To avoid this, spoon and level the flour to ensure accurate measuring.
- Butter and eggs at room temperature – These should be at room temperature before starting because they will incorporate better create a fluffier pound cake.
- Don’t over-mix – Over-mixing can cause the cake to be touch and dense.
- Grease the baking pan – I used baking spray and bread pans. If you want to use a bundt pan, butter and flour it so the cake will have a quick release.
- Add dry ingredients in groups – the recipe calls for adding in two groups. Mix only until combined so that your cake isn’t too dense.
- If you don’t have oranges on hand, replace the orange zest with dried orange zest. Just remember to use about half as much as the recipe calls for if you use the dried (more flavorful) version.
- I added 4-5 drops of orange essential oil to enhance the orange flavor without making the dough too wet. It’s totally optional but super yummy!
Tip About The Cranberries
Many cranberry pound cake recipes have a dry texture. I wanted my version to stay moist and delicious, so I added the sour cream. Cream cheese could also do the trick.
I cut my cranberries in half, but that’s not necessary. I have also tried leaving them whole and had equal success with both versions.
Also you could use dried cranberries, but they tend to have a tougher texture (that baking will soften just a tad). I love the addition of the fresh cranberries – AND the color they provide!
Cranberry Orange Pound Cake Recipe Variations
If you love this classic orange cranberry pound cake with orange glaze, you can use the same base (omitting the orange and cranberries) and create some fun variations for other occasions.
- Change the citrus and fruit. Blueberry and lemon zest would taste amazing!
- Add mini chocolate chips (large ones would since to the bottom).
- Include nuts! Chopped pecans, walnuts, or pistachios will add a satisfying crunch.
- Change up the spices. Cinnamon and nutmeg or pumpkin spice would be great choices.
- Add your favorite extract. Lemon, almond, or even peppermint for a special holiday version.
How To Store This Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
Any pound cake leftovers that aren’t eaten will keep well at room temperature for up to 3 days when stored in an airtight container.
Or keep it in the fridge for up to a week (stored in an airtight container). The cake will taste best at room temperature, so pull it out and let it sit on the counter to warm up before serving.
Can I freeze this pound cake?
Take your baked and cooled cake and wrap it in two layers of plastic wrap. Then place it in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
When you want to serve your orange cranberry pound cake, pull it out of the freezer and put it on the counter to thaw. Allow it to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.
I highly recommend withholding the glaze and adding it after you thaw the cake.
Orange Cranberry Pound Cake: DIY Gift Idea
This cake makes for a delicious DIY gift or tasty holiday treat for any holiday occasion! Give it to neighbors, teachers, the mailman, friends, family…everyone!
No matter who you share it with, you’ll probably want to have this cranberry orange pound cake recipe on hand to share!
More Christmas Fan Favorites
If you like this recipe, check out these other popular recipes too!
- Christmas Cakesicles (Christmas Cake Popsicles)
- Reindeer Hot Chocolate Cones
- Grinch Fudge (Easy No-Bake Recipe)
- Bite-Size Christmas Tree Brownies
- Cream Cheese Strawberry Santas
- 1 Cup Butter (softened)
- 1 ½ Cups Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 3 tsp Orange Zest
- 2 Tbsp Orange Juice
- ¾ Cup Sour Cream
- 2 ½ Cups Fresh Cranberries
- 2 ½ Cups Flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Vanilla
For The Glaze
- 2 tsp Orange Zest (plus more for garnish if desired)
- 2 Tbsp Orange Juice
- 1½ Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1-2 tsp of orange zest
- ¼ Cup Dried Cranberries (chopped)
- Preheat the oven to 350 and grease two 9×5 loaf pans.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and orange zest.
- Add vanilla and add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until well incorporated
- Add in sour cream and orange juice and mix well.
- Add in remaining dry ingredients and continue mixing until everything is well mixed.
- Fold in the cranberries with a spatula or wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans and spread it out.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester placed in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool for about 30 minutes in the pans, then remove them from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before glazing. (about 30 minutes)
Making the glaze:
- Mix powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a medium-size bowl until well incorporated.
- Place the cakes on parchment paper or another surface to catch any drips.
- Spread the glaze evenly across the tops of the cakes.
- Sprinkle with dried cranberries and orange zest, if desired.
- Slice and serve.