Brown Sugar-Cranberry Pound Cake With Caramel Frosting

Fresh berries add just a hint of tartness to this tender Bundt cake, balancing out the molasses-tinted brown sugar and the rich, buttery caramel frosting.

Brown sugar-cranberry pound cake with caramel frosting on white and gold cake stand
Photo:

Antonis Achilleos; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Lydia Pursell

Active Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
Servings:
12

Not everyone is born with the cake-decorating gene—that’s why we have Bundt cakes! These fluted tube pans yield gorgeously shaped cakes which don’t require a skilled decorator to artfully cover them with frosting; a simple drizzle with glaze will do just fine.

Perfect for the holidays, this Brown Sugar Cranberry Pound Cake With Caramel Frosting makes a stunning holiday dessert, with no special skills required. Although you can barely spy them from the outside, this cake is loaded with fresh cranberries; their bright, crimson color is revealed with each slice. The rich caramel frosting comes together quickly on the stovetop, then gets poured over the cooled cake for a dramatic finish, followed by a crown of toasted pecans.

If you’re a fan of sweet and just-slightly savory desserts, you can also add a light sprinkle of flaky sea salt over the top for an incredible flavor contrast.

Berry Good Advice

Harvested in the fall, cranberries are usually at their peak in supermarkets from October through December, but they have a longer shelf life than most fruits. When purchasing, look for firm, brightly colored berries—softness does not equal ripeness. Store them in their original packaging in the refrigerator for about a month, or stock up and freeze them for up to one year. (Do not thaw before cooking.) Wash the fruit when you're ready to use it; then sort through it carefully, discarding berries that are soft or discolored.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups butter, softened

  • 2 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

  • 6 large eggs

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 cup whole buttermilk

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

  • Baking spray

Frosting

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/4 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Additional Ingredient

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Directions

  1. Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Beat butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until just blended after each addition.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended after each addition. Using a rubber spatula, stir in cranberries, pecans, and vanilla until blended. Spoon batter into a 15-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour, 10 minutes to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  4. Prepare the Frosting: Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir gently until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately spoon Frosting over cooled Cake, and top with coarsely chopped pecans.

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