Cranberry-Orange Anise Pecan Christmas Cake

24 Dec


Sometimes you have an idea in your head of what you are going to bake. You have the recipe in front of you. There are pictures. It’s all quite simple to follow, really. And then…your simple change of making a bundt cake instead of two loaves throws a wrench into the ENTIRE recipe…because you’ve poured the batter into the cake pan and it’s already baking. That’s when you (I) realized that the crumble top that gets BAKED on TOP of the cake cannot happen now. Time to reassess.

It’s also the afternoon of Christmas Eve…and this is a dessert for, oh, three hours from now.

So, first thing that pops in to my head is a simple icing for the top. I then took the pecans I had remaining and toasted them with brown sugar and, get this, toasted anise spice sugar! It’s perfect for my Italian family, who are all obsessed with anything anise flavored.


I picked up this sugar a few weeks ago at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market, and am glad to have found a fitting use for it!

It added just the right element to finish off the cranberry-orange goodness that was happening on the inside of the cake. I hope. I’ll know more once we cut into it later this evening…

Thanks to Joy the Baker for the original recipe. I apparently don’t follow instructions well. To learn how to make the actual batter with cranberries, oranges and crumbly yummy topping, go there.

If you want to make the topping I made, do it like so:

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a pan, add pecan halves. Put in tbs of brown sugar and tbs of anise sugar. Mix until heated, and do not let burn! Take them off heat and chop them up once cooled down. Set aside.

Mix these guys together to make the icing:

  • Two cups of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pour mixture over cooled cake. Then, sprinkle your sugared pecans over the icing before it sets. Finish with a little bit more of the anise sugar.

Guess I had plenty of time to mess-up a cake, fix it and blog about it too…


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