Perfect for a fall or winter brunch, this versatile cake can be made with almost any combination of dried fruits and nuts you like. I love the tangy flavor of dried cranberries, and they’re a perfect contrast to the sweet dough and icing and the richness of the nuts in this cake.
Makes one 10-inch tube or Bundt cake
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk, scalded and cooled to 100˚F
4 teaspoons fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
3 tablespoons orange juice
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed, or turbinado sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups pecan pieces, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, strained before measuring
One 16-cup tube or Bundt pan, thickly buttered
- For the sponge, whisk the milk and yeast together in a small bowl and stir in the flour. Cover with oiled or sprayed plastic wrap and let the sponge ferment until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Immediately after preparing the sponge, combine the dried cranberries and orange juice in a small bowl and set aside.
- Once the sponge is risen, beat the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until well mixed, about 1 minutes. Beat in the eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat until smooth, then beat in the orange zest and vanilla.
- Decrease the mixer speed to lowest and beat in the sponge, then the flour a little at a time. Once all the flour has been added, let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle on the salt and beat on low/medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes longer. Halfway through, beat in the dried cranberries and orange juice.
- For the filling, stir the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans together.
- To assemble, spoon a little less than a third of the dough into the bottom of the mold and spread it evenly. Sprinkle with half the sugar and pecan mixture. Spoon in half the remaining dough and level, top with all the remaining sugar and pecan mixture. Spoon in the last of the dough and level the top. Cover with oiled or sprayed plastic wrap and let the dough ferment until it fills the mold, about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has started puffing, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
- Once the cake is fully proofed, bake until well risen and deep golden, with an internal temperature of about 200˚F, about 1 hour.
- Invert a rack on top of the pan and, using oven mitts, invert them together. Lift off the pan and let the cake cool completely. Once cooled, invert the cake to a rack over a piece of paper or a pan.
- To make the icing, stir the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice together in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Cook the icing, stirring constantly, until it is just warm, about 110˚F. Use a spoon to drizzle the icing onto the cooled cake. Let the icing dry, then slide the cake to a platter. Serve on the day you bake it for brunch or tea.