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High Altitude Baking: This simple recipe yields a tasty orange Bundt cake with berries

By Vera Dawson, High Country Baking
This cake is flavored with vanilla and orange (think of a creamsicle) and includes a layer of fresh raspberries and blueberries, and is topped it with a sweet orange glaze.
Vera Dawson | High Country Baking

High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

In these times of uncertainty, I yearn for sure things and, in the baking domain, this Bundt cake definitely is one. To make it I took my best recipe for a moist pound cake with a beautiful crumb, flavored it with vanilla and orange (think of a creamsicle), added a layer of fresh raspberries and blueberries, and topped it with a sweet orange glaze. These components just about guarantee it’ll be good and it is; everyone who tried it gave it two thumbs up. Serve it with whipped cream or a berry sauce and you’ve got a classic warm weather dessert — pretty to look at and delightful to eat.

The recipe is straightforward and easy to follow, just be sure to use room temperature ingredients and avoid overfilling the pan and overbaking the cake.

For a mild orange-vanilla flavor, use 2 tablespoons of orange juice concentrate in the cake batter; increase it up to, but not more than, 3 tablespoons for one that is more pronounced. Don’t like orange? Replace the concentrate with up to ½ teaspoon of almond extract in the batter and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the glaze.

Orange Bundt with fresh berries

  • Adjusted for altitudes of 7,800 feet and above
  • Make in a 6-cup non-stick Bundt or loaf pan

Cake

  • 1 generous cup fresh raspberries and blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam, optional
  • 8 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar, preferably Baker’s
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoon unbleached flour, spoon and level

Glaze

  • 1-2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1-3 teaspoons milk or cream
  • About ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Generously grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour. Wash, pick through the berries, and place them in a bowl. If you’re using the jam, warm it so it’s loose and liquid, pour/scrape it over the berries and toss gently to coat them all. Set the bowl aside.

2. Cut the butter into 16 pieces and the cream cheese into 4 pieces and place them in a mixing bowl along with the sugar, salt, baking powder, vanilla, and OJ concentrate. Beat with an electric mixer to combine well, and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating to blend fully after each one. The mixture may appear curdled at this point, no worries, it will smooth out. After adding the third egg, beat at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed, then stir in the milk.

3. With the mixer at its lowest speed, sprinkle in the flour, 2-3 tablespoons at a time, and mix only until combined and a thick, shiny batter forms. Pour/scrape a little more than half of it into the prepared pan. Scatter the berries evenly over it and top with the remaining batter, filling the pan no more than 1¼ inches from the top. Gently smooth and level the batter and then tap the pan on a counter several times to dislodge any air bubbles.

4. Bake until the top is set and lightly colored, the edges are a deep golden, and a toothpick inserted all the way to the pan bottom comes out clean, 38-45 minutes. Don’t overbake or the cake will be dry and tough. Small cracks may form as the cake bakes. Remove the pan to a rack to cool for about 15-20 minutes, flip it over onto a cardboard cake round or serving platter and gently remove the pan. Let the cake cool completely.

5. Make the glaze by blending 1 tablespoon OJ concentrate and 1 teaspoon milk/cream in a small bowl or a measuring cup. Add ¼ cup of confectioners’ sugar and whisk to combine well. Add more liquid (OJ and/or milk/cream) and more sugar, at little at a time, until you like the taste and the mixture reaches a consistency that is thick but pourable. Drizzle it over the cake and let it set. Serve the cake or store it covered, in the cool place, for two days.

Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). She’s lived in Frisco since 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com. This recipe is a variation of one published by King Arthur Flour.


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