So I just did something pretty incredible. I made a cake that celebrates two holidays and two seasons. This Orange Pumpkin Holiday Cake is a show-stopper. It’s unbelievably pretty, and it’s unbelievably festive.
Pretty festive? Pretty festive it is.
When I think of fall and Thanksgiving, I think of pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is always on the Thanksgiving table wherever my family is celebrating. Leading up to Thanksgiving, I feed my pumpkin addiction with appropriately flavored lattes, Hershey’s Kisses, scones, baked oatmeal…yeah, I kinda have a thing for pumpkin.
When I think of winter and Christmas, I think of oranges. Orange and cranberry is a great holiday combo. And when I was a little girl, the men’s group at my church would hand out candy bags to the children after the Sunday School Christmas program every year. Besides red hot gummy bears and peanuts in the shell, I could always count on an orange in my bag.
When I came across this recipe in a cookbook my mother-in-law had gifted me a long (LONG!) time ago, I knew I had to make it. Although I have a bundt cake pan, I’ve actually never made a cake in it all the years I’ve had it. Monkey bread? Definitely. Cake? Nope. I knew it was time to change that.
The flavor combination of orange and pumpkin was a new one for me. And I love unique flavor pairings. Potato chips + milk chocolate. Gouda cheese + dark chocolate. (Okay, so I have a thing for chocolate.) Beef sirloin + ground espresso. But orange + pumpkin? I was intrigued, so I knew I needed to give this recipe a try.
As you can see, this cake is simply gorgeous. But what about the taste? It’s simply delicious, too. It leans towards the orange flavor—after all it is Orange Pumpkin Holiday Cake—but the pumpkin flavor can definitely be recognized. The spices blend so well with the orange and the pumpkin—so it’s like an equal combination of mulled cider and pumpkin pie…if that makes sense. It probably doesn’t. But maybe it does?
This cake is super moist, which is how a cake should be. What this cake also has going for it is that it’s not crumb-y. You know how annoying it is when you cut moist cakes and they practically fall apart because nothing is holding it together? Yeah, you won’t have that problem with this cake because it cuts and serves so nicely. You won’t be able to use the I-need-to-go-back-and-pick-up-the-crumbs-well-hey-I-guess-I’ll-just-have-another-slice-then excuse. I’m telling you now: just plan to have a second slice.
The glaze is the perfect addition to this cake. It’s citrusy-sweet, and it’s light. My husband does not like frosting (I know. The horror!), so a glaze like this is well-received by him. I opted for a thinner glaze because it’s oh-so-fun to watch the glaze ooze down the sides of the cake, but if you prefer a thicker glaze, no problem. You can certainly adjust the milk in the glaze to your liking. One thing I wouldn’t adjust in this recipe is the grated orange peel. There was a time in my life when I thought grated citrus peels were just ways to add more work to a recipe. The flavor pop they provide is so worth the little effort it takes to grate a peel.
I think this cake is a beautiful way to celebrate the holidays and the fall and winter seasons. It’s so festive. And so pretty. But it’s definitely not too pretty to eat. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
Recipe adapted from Kristi K., originally found in the Immanuel Lutheran Ladies Aid and LWML 75th Anniversary Cookbook, Nebraska.