This fabulous cream cheese pound cake gets a holiday twist with dried cranberries and pecans and is subtly spiced with cinnamon and ginger, topped with a praline frosting.
Pound cakes are one of my favorite summer desserts – topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream, they’re the perfect vehicle for enjoying summer’s bounty in a dessert. With the exception of the Russian pound cake that my grandma and aunt used to make for Christmas, I have always relegated pound cakes to summer. I decided that needed to change and gave my favorite cream cheese pound cake recipe a Thanksgiving and Christmas-worthy makeover. I added just a bit of cinnamon and ginger to the batter and included cranberries and pecans – totally festive and perfect for any fall or winter special occasion.
I baked this cake on Saturday evening to serve for dessert on Sunday and by the time we were all sitting down with a piece on Sunday afternoon, it had seriously been through the wringer. After I added the praline frosting on Sunday morning, I placed the cake (on a cake pedestal), at the back of our stove so that it was out of reach of prying eyes (ahem, Einstein). There was a flurry of activity near the stove before dinner as everyone came in and warmed up their dishes. It wasn’t until I grabbed the cake to photograph after dinner that I saw it had been splattered with spaghetti sauce! Luckily the praline frosting sets super hard, so I was able to wipe most of it off, but you can still see the red smudges if you look closely enough at the photos ;-) We all had a good laugh and needled my mom, who was the sauce splatterer, but that was NOT the end of the story…
I was getting ready to start doling out slices when I saw something sticking out of the bottom that looked like… metal. Immediately my brain started racing through all of the possibilities… I thought that it might have been a spoon that fell into the batter without me realizing it since I was rushing to get this into the oven before I put Joseph to bed on Saturday night. I pulled at the little metal piece and had no idea what it was, so I pulled and ended up having to pull part of the cake apart and saw that it was… my oven thermometer! I must have bumped it when I put the pan in the oven and it fell into the cake. Oh my gosh, I died laughing as soon as I saw it. Everyone was waiting for more surprises after the spaghetti sauce and thermometer incidents. (In case you’re wondering, the thermometer still works just fine!)
We still ate the cake (OF COURSE) and it was a huge hit – the cream cheese pound cake is amazingly tender, dense and moist. The cranberries are plump and the pecans add just enough crunch. I waffled for quite some time between this praline frosting, a simple powdered glaze, and just a dusting of powdered sugar. I honestly think you could go with any of them and it would be great!
Add this cake to you dessert list for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
(And maybe keep it away from pots of spaghetti sauce and be on the lookout for wayward oven thermometers.)
Make the Cake: Place the dried cranberries in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then turn off the heat, cover, and let steep while you prepare the cake.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a standard-size 12-cup Bundt pan.
Sift the cake flour, cinnamon and ginger into a large bowl; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar continue to beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl once or twice, until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture until it has all been combined. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Drain the cranberries and pat dry, then fold into the cake batter, along with the chopped pecans.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and gently spread to the edges of the pan in an even layer.
Bake for 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting and serving.
Make the Frosting: Combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute, continuing to whisk constantly, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until it is completely incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Immediately pour the frosting over the cooled cake; it will set almost instantaneously. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.