Aunt Nettie’s Orange Nut Cake

Aunt Nettie’s Orange Nut Cake quickly became one of our most favorite cakes ever with such incredible flavors of orange, cranberries and nuts. It’s truly stunning and fantabulously delicious!

This post is being sponsored by Nordic Ware® featuring their Heritage Bundt Pan and the “Bundt Cake Bliss: Delicious Desserts from Midwest Kitchens” cookbook. All opinions of these ABSOLUTELY AMAZING products are mine.

This cake guys, oh my goodness guys, this cake!   In 2 weeks I made it twice because it’s THAT GOOD! It is the perfect winter cake and one that every holiday table needs! This cake is dense but so incredibly tender and moist. This is that cake, that when you walk past it, you have to stop and slice off just the teensiest of slivers because you can’t help yourself. And this is that cake you purposely walk past it 47 times just to get that teensiest of slivers before you have a real serving for dessert. I mean those slivers don’t count, right? I mean it’s not a real slice of cake. It’s a sliver after all. LOL

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

This cake comes from an incredible cookbook by Susanna Short titled “Bundt Cake Bliss: Delicious Desserts from Midwest Kitchens“. The partnered up with the Minnesota Historical Society  published this wonderful cookbook.  Nordic Ware® partnered up with the Minnesota Historical Society to help share their state’s stories while connecting people with history in meaningful ways.

This book, along with this pan, would make an amazing holiday gift for your favorite foodie (or why not treat yourself!) In reading more about the Minnesota Historical Society, I found that they play an important role in their state’s historic preservation, education and tourism; and provide the public with award-winning programs, exhibitions and events. Nordic Ware has been a major part of Minnesota’s heritage and history since 1946!

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

Now this recipe is not my Aunt Nettie but rather Susanna’s great-great Aunt Nettie, born in 1867. This recipe is one that taught me something I have never ever seen before and honestly, it’s a game changer when it comes to adding fruits to cakes and baked goods.

Nettie’s recipe calls for an entire orange in the batter. Yes, the whole orange – peel and pith too! You chop it all up, pop it into a food processor and grind it till it’s finely ground. Yeah, I know! Interesting to say the least but I wanted to follow Susanna’s recipe exactly.

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

What permeated my kitchen from doing this was the most intense, fresh orange scent!  Did you ever peel an orange and then bend the peel to see the zest spritz from it?  Well this is like that but on steroids! It was incredible smelling!

Now my pan is a 10 cup Bundt pan where I believe all of the recipes in this book call for a 12 cup Bundt pan but no worries on this. All I did was scoop out about 2 cups and reserve that for cupcakes (which Mr. Fantabulous ate them all!).

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

This cake though, the flavors were spot on. Aunt Nettie rocked this cake in her day and I’m so happy Susanna shared this recipe with the world as this will most definitely be one I’ll be making over and over! It’s elegant and beautiful yet so incredibly simple.

This cake, reminds me of the cakes my Mom and Grandma would make. When you really only had the basics in the pantry – flour, eggs, sugar and whatever fresh fruit that was growing on the tree outside, that’s what drove the cake flavor. This cake just ‘spoke’ to me as I read the story of it as this cake is similar to something they would have made. Since we couldn’t often afford to presents when visiting friends, Mom and Grandma would make such grand cakes. To them, baked goods were more meaningful and from the heart.

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

Food to me is more than just how it tastes; it’s about the memories you make with this and the bonds that are built from it. To see a smile on someone’s face when they took a bite of one of their cakes was the best present they could get.

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

But let me tell you more about Susanna and this cookbook. Susanna Short is a caterer who has been baking with passion and curiosity since the age of six. In looking at this book I immediately smiled when I saw who penned the preface. Dorothy “Dotty” Dalquist herself did. Dorothy and her husband, H. David Dalquist, developed the original Bundt pan for their company, Nordic Ware! Definitely check out that link and read more about their heritage!

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

What I loved about this book it shows how anyone can make a make a sophisticated, crowd-pleasing cake in a snap? With a Bundt pan, of course! Foodie Susanna Short brings back the beautiful Bundts of yesteryear with mouth-watering, kitchen-tested recipes for busy families, elegant entertainers, and confection connoisseurs everywhere in Bundt Cake Bliss.

From vintage favorites like Quick Orange Kiss and Tunnel of Fudge to fanciful finds like Green Chili Cornbread and Mexican Hot Chocolate Mini Bundts, this delightful book features just about every delectable Bundt baked by the Midwest’s own since the handy pan burst into the baking scene in the 1960s. And don’t forget the dozens of glazes, sauces, and frostings sure to transform any cake into a shining crown of glory.

Here is a cookbook that makes baking accessible to all, where fun is an essential tool in the kitchen. Among the delicious recipes and stories of the cakes and their creators are tips for dressing up Bundts for special occasions and for managing those unexpected mishaps. And to top it off, Short offers warm and humorous reflections about the power of Bundts in building community.

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

In making this cake I actually made two of them in two weeks. We ate the first one in a few days (along with the cupcakes he had too) and a second one the following week as we were having company that evening. This cake is honestly a show stopper visually. Due to the cranberries and orange, you really do not need any type of glaze of frosting on it though I did put on the first one a basic vanilla bean glaze and let it trickle down between the swirls. Mr. Fantabulous actually didn’t care for the glaze as he felt that took away from the simplicity of the cake. I personally, loved both ways.

On my second cake I deviated just a tad from the recipe as I didn’t have any dried cranberries or raisins on hand but I did have 4 pounds of fresh cranberries. Have to tell you, that burst of tart cranberry flavor in the cake really packed a punch and made it even more moist (if that possible). You can’t go wrong with this cake whether you use dried or fresh berries.  As for the nuts in the first one I went with toasted walnuts and the second one I went with toasted pecans. I personally think the pecans gave me a more rounded flavor and complimented the cake quite well. But go with whatever you want really.

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

As for the size of the orange, I just went with a basic large naval orange. Could you use clementines? Sure, why not? I would guess maybe 3-4 of those would equal a normal sized orange. I’m wondering how lemon would be in this with the orange or even just lemon and cranberry!  Mmmmm I know what I’m making this weekend!

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

I would say if you’re heading to a holiday party this year, instead of taking a bag of chips or a cheese tray, show up with this cake and right before you serve it, kiss it with a bit of confectioners’ sugar. This cake will put a smile on anyone’s face and warm their heart!

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

Aunt Nettie's Orange Nut Cake

Serves: 10-12

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 whole orange (large), chopped (peel and all!)
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup nuts, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 12-cup Bundt pan with butter and flour (or spray that has both). If you only have a 10-cup Bundt pan, remove 2 cups and make cupcakes out of that batter!
  2. Place the raisins and the chopped orange in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely ground. Pour the 1/4 cup hot water into the mixture and set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Alternately, add the flour ingredients and the buttermilk to the sugar-butter mixture until smooth. Stir in the orange-raisin mixture and the nuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt Pan. Note – if your pan is less than 12 cups, like the Harvest Bundt Pan I used, remove 2 cups of batter and bake as cupcakes!
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Dust with confectioners’ sugar prior to serving
Notes
I baked this cake as-written in the book and then a second time with my little spin on it. The cake is amazing either way! I tried both dried cranberries and fresh and if you want more tart burst, go with fresh (2 cups of fresh mixed with 2 Tbl of flour). Fold those in at the very end. Do not pulse with the orange!

 

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