No doubt about it, fall is pie season. Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, they all scream fall and the holidays to come. But if you don’t want to rush the season, a bundt cake is a great alternative. Aromatic with spices and brimming with fall fruits and nuts, a bundt cake looks, tastes and smells like fall.
The difficulty level of these cakes varies tremendously. The recipes that follow do use a lot of ingredients and have a lot of steps but they’re not actually hard to do. If you think about it though, a bundt cake is really just a great big muffin that you’ve baked in a fancy pan. So get creative. Use any of your muffin recipes or specialty breads, like pumpkin bread or sweet potato muffins for a quick and easy bundt cake. Concoct a quick glaze if you want to doll it up.
Here are a couple of hints to move things along. Since it takes about 15 minutes for eggs to come to room temperature on the counter, you can submerge them (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for five minutes. Nuts are easily toasted by cooking in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, two to four minutes. It’s worth the effort to find crystallized ginger for recipes that call for it. It has an intense ginger taste and gives a nice chewy burst of flavor in the finished cake. Trader Joe’s has a nice one in the dried fruit section. If your market doesn’t have it there, try the holiday baking area where they’ve got the fruitcake supplies.
The first recipe is full of fresh apples and pecans and a cinnamon whiskey glaze that makes the whole cake smell like a cinnamon red hot. The alcohol in the glaze has the added benefit of sealing the cake and acting as a preservative. The cake will keep for several days and in fact gets better over time. Just be careful to only heat the glaze long enough to dissolve the sugar or the alcohol will evaporate. Unless you want the alcohol to evaporate, in that case, let it boil.
Once the holiday season is here, any of these cakes would be a nice end to a holiday dinner or a welcome addition to a pot luck. A nice relief from all those pies.
Apple Cinnamon Whiskey Bundt Cake
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more to dust the pan
3 tbsp. plus 1/2 cup cinnamon whiskey
½ cup candied ginger, chopped
1 ¾ cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. fine sea salt
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 medium Granny Smith apples, about a pound, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated
1 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
½ cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp. cinnamon whiskey and the candied ginger. Let stand 10 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar and remaining butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and vanilla. Pour in the bourbon from the ginger mixture (reserve ginger) and whisk until smooth. Stir in zest. With the mixer on medium speed, add the dry mixture and sour cream mixture to the wet mixture in three additions, alternating between the two. Fold in the ginger, apples and pecans. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out dry, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in the pan 20 minutes, then run a paring knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake; cool, flat side down, on a wire rack. While the cake cools, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup whiskey in a small saucepan. Over low heat, gently stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the lemon juice and take off the heat. While the cake cools, make 10 slits on top with a paring knife and pour half the bourbon-sugar mixture on the still-warm cake. When the cake is fully cool, flip it and pour the rest of the glaze on the other side, then flip again to serve.
Pear Cardamom Bundt Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. milk
3 green Anjou pears, chopped into a rough 1/2 inch to 3/4 dice
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely minced
1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 ounces white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. In a large bowl, beat oil and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, milk and eggs and continue to beat for about 3 minutes. Add in flour a cup at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just combined. With a wooden spoon, mix in pears, candied ginger and walnuts. The batter is thick, so this will take some elbow grease. Spoon batter into bundt pan and bake for 80 to 90 minutes, until the top is golden. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then gently run a butter knife between the cake and pan to make sure the cake isn’t sticking. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and let it sit until its completely cooled. In a small saucepan, heat cream until it just starts to boil. Turn off heat, add chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Let it sit and cool until it thickens – about an hour at room temperature- or put it in the fridge to speed it up. Whisk the mixture for about 30 seconds to make it a little fluffier and spoon it over the top of the cake.
Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Walnut Glaze
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
4 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped lightly toasted walnuts
Maple Walnut Glaze:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp. heavy cream
pinch of salt
6 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp. finely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Coat two (12-mini bundt cake) pans with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes. Add eggs and beat well. Add the vanilla, milk, and maple syrup; beat until batter is silky. Lower the speed; add the bananas and beat briefly. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the raisins and walnuts. Divide the batter evenly among the 24 molds. Bake for 25-30 minutes rotating pans mid-way through. Cakes should be deep golden brown, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack for 3-5 minutes. Then flip the pans upside down and place cakes on a cooling rack. Cool completely before glazing. For the glaze, in a small pan over medium-low heat, melt butter and maple syrup; add heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Pour into a small metal bowl. Add confectioners’ sugar, and whisk vigorously until smooth. If necessary, pour glaze through a fine mesh sieve to remove any tiny clumps of sugar. Let glaze rest for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. For easy clean-up, place a piece of parchment paper underneath the cooling rack. Drizzle glaze evenly over cakes, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Cool completely before serving.
Glazed Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake
1 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. nonfat buttermilk
2 tbsp. mini chocolate chips, or toasted chopped nuts
To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl. Blend 1 cup buttermilk, pumpkin puree and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Beat in whole egg and egg white. Stir in oil, honey and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 2 hours. To glaze and garnish cake: Combine confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon buttermilk in a small bowl, stirring until completely smooth. Place the cake on a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the top; garnish with chocolate chips (or chopped nuts) while the glaze is still moist. Alternatively, fold the chocolate chips into the batter and dust cooled cake with confectioner’s sugar.
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Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.