I am guilty of overindulging in all the holiday baking treats going around lately. Based on my recent holiday posts it is safe to say my house in swimming in treats made with butter, butter, more butter, sugar, shortening, and chocolate. While these things are all fine and good occasionally, it’s easy to go overboard during the holidays and regret it. I have a few secrets for lighter holiday baking that deliver in both flavor and nutrition.
Baking with the cranberry and orange just screams holiday to me. I love the red flecks of the cranberries running throughout the batter and how they decorate the inside of the cake once it’s cooked; so festive! After baking this cake I thought to myself why don’t people bake with cranberries more?? It seems that cranberries are often overlooked and reserved for cranberry sauce or relish, but they have so much more to offer! They are an excellent source of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, they contain manganese, vitamin C, and fiber. Orange zest is the perfect sweet counterpoint to balance the cranberry’s tart flavor. Opposites really do attract.
While the cranberries and oranges are wonderful, the star of this recipe is really the greek yogurt. I absolutely LOVE greek yogurt! Yep, all-caps-underlined-true-culinary love. It differs from regular yogurt because additional whey is strained during processing resulting in a thick, luscious, high-protein treat. I love to top greek yogurt with fresh berries and granola for a healthy breakfast or post-workout snack, or mix it with garlic, cucumber, and herbs for an easy vegetable dip. Greek yogurt is perfect for holiday baking because it allows you to reduce the fat content of the recipe without changing the texture of the result. That’s right…reduce the butter, oil, and fat in baking by using greek yogurt instead; genius! Typically I include greek yogurt in cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and quick breads; for this recipe I was able to eliminate one whole stick of butter by substituting 1 c. of greek yogurt. Chobani offers an awesome tip sheet and chart outlining common cooking ingredients that can be substituted with greek yogurt; click here for the link! I usually purchase greek yogurt made with 2% milk for baking and it turns out perfectly every time!
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 large orange (zest and juice)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. plain greek yogurt
- 2 c. all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 c. fresh cranberries
- non-stick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, scraping the bowl several times. Creaming the orange zest with the butter and sugar helps infuse the orange flavor into the wet ingredients and disperse it evenly throughout the batter.
Next add the vanilla extract, eggs, and greek yogurt; mix until well combined.
Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the wet ingredients, then stir.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients; mix until JUST combined.
Add the cranberries and stir them in gently; prevent over-mixing as this will lead to a tough batter.
Spray a bundt pan very well with non-stick cooking spray and spoon batter into the pan. I love this decorative bundt pan; it makes the cake look fancy without any additional work!
Use a spatula to spread out the top and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cake stand to cool completely. It is easier to get the cake out of the bundt pan without sticking while it is still warm.
This dessert satisfies all my cravings for holiday themed treats while still incorporating healthy ingredients like fresh fruit and yogurt. Happy healthier holiday baking! Enjoy!