Sunday, November 25, 2007

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake

Are you recovered yet?

This is the first year I've flown home from the family Thanksgiving in Connecticut without feeling exhausted, hungover and stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. I consider this to be a really good thing, especially since we had a great time this year as always.

So, between catching up with everyone, playing board games (and drinking games), hiking, and drinking lots of red wine (and Bud Light), Mike and I whipped up this All-In-One, All-Purpose Holiday Bundt Cake for Thanksgiving dessert. It was a well-traveled cake by the time it had been mixed at Aunt Jo's, transported down the road and baked at Grandma Jean's. But it never complained once and, even with all the juggling around, it baked up beautifully.

This cake is really good and moist. I thought it might have a chunky texture with all the add-ins, but the cranberries soften nicely and the apples absolutely melt into the nutmeg-scented pumpkin batter. All those great fall flavors are there plus pecans, cinnamon and maple syrup in sugar glaze. It disappeared by Friday morning.

This is Dorie Greenspan's cake and her reputation for writing reliable, do-able recipes is proven again. I opted to toast the pecans, but she didn't call for that, so do whatever you want. I think toasting does wonders to enhance the flavor of fresh, raw nuts even if you are mixing them into a cake. I also made a lot more maple glaze than she calls for in her book, but I make no apologies for that. You could also simply dust the cake with sifted confectioners' sugar right before serving. Though it was perfect for Thanksgiving, this is a cake that you'll love serving throughout the holiday season. I imagine it would freeze very well (sans icing) for some advance baking, if you're so inclined.

I'm sending this post to Definitely Not Martha who is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday, a super-sweet blogging event where food bloggers bake around a given theme. This month, it's beta-carotene--sounds a little healthy and clinical for Sugar High Friday doesn't it? But wait, that means everyone will be baking with ingredients like pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes--yum! I'll post a link to the round-up when it's done so you can check out the recipes from other bloggers.

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
This cake contains just about every traditional holiday flavor, so that is where the names comes from. To toast the pecans, spread them on a baking sheet and put them in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes, shaking and turning them over halfway through, until fragrant and starting to take on some additional color. Watch them carefully to avoid burning.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup canned, unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pecans, toasted (see headnote) and chopped
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (or more as needed)
5 to 6 tbs. maple syrup
1 to 2 Tbs milk, or as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center position. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) bundt pan well, using waxed paper or a pastry brush to spread the butter into every nook.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Using a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the pumpkin, ginger and chopped apple. At this point the mixture will probably looked curdled, but that’s okay.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture slowly, beating just until it is incorporated (over mixing flour results in a tough texture in the finished cake). Using a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a thin paring knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (you might get some streaks if you hit a cranberry). Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for ten minutes in the pan. Unmold the cake and cool to room temperature on the rack.

Transfer cooled cake to a cake stand or serving platter. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Add 5 tablespoons of maple syrup and stir until you have a smooth, thick mixture that coats the back of the spoon and runs off enough to drizzle over the cake. If you want, add some milk to thin icing; to thicken, just add more sugar. Drizzle icing off the back of the spoon over the top of the cake so it runs down the sides. Let the icing set for at least an hour before serving.

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Lydia said...

That really is a cake with every flavor of the holiday in it! What a fun idea.

Patricia Scarpin said...

It looks so beautiful, Julie - where's my slice? :)

Mandy said...

good choice for SHF! This is gorgeous. And thanks for dropping by my blog. :)

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

I totally missed the SHF this month - but I definitely need a boost of beta-carotene...this looks good! I love how a dessert can be all-purpose :)

Carolyn said...

This cake looks like a star of the show. And thanks for the headsup on another of Greenspan's books.