Sunday, April 21, 2013

All-in-one-Holiday Bundt Cake

Yes, this recipe does conger up thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas, however a good bundt cake can really be served any time.  And this is one great bundt cake.  So I challenge you to think outside the "holiday season" with this recipe and make it anytime.  It is so good, why only have it during one season??

I recently made this cake for a friend's retirement party.  I didn't actually intend for it to be a cake for the party, though it did turn out that way.  I just wanted to bake my friend and her husband a cake to celebrate her retirement!  This is a friend that I used to work with, back in the day when I was a federal law enforcement officer.  I know, it is hard to believe!  I am so proud of my friend, as there are not many female agents in general, and VERY FEW that I admire as much as this friend.  She was a true mentor and role model for me.  She helped me to be a great agent and I taught her to knit!  Ha!  That was a scream.  Anyway, I was thrilled to attend her retirement party and I am so happy for her to be starting this whole new chapter in her life.

Her husband liked this cake so much he evidently would get this glazed look in his eye and would not stop talking about it!  So I gave my friend the recipe and she made it for him again!  

I honestly decided to make this cake for my friend the morning of her retirement lunch.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  That is how easy this cake is.  Just throw it together and jump into the shower.  It will be ready around the same time you are all dressed and ready to go. 

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's, Baking from My House to Yours
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350F.  Butter a 9-10-inch bundt pan (about a 12 cup size if yours is labeled that way).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ground ginger (if you are using it).  In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition.  Add the vanilla.  Turn the mixer down to low and add the pumpkin, apple and grated ginger (if using).  Keep the mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.  Stir in the cranberries and pecans with a rubber spatula.  

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Place the pan in the oven (don't put it on a baking sheet or anything - put it right on the oven rack) and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding from the pan.  Cool to room temperature on the rack.

Before presenting the cake at the table, dust the top with powdered sugar.  

To store, wrap well with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 5 days.  Or, wrap it airtight in two layers of plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Defrost it at room temperature the day before you want to serve the cake.

For an extra special topping, try Maple Sugar Icing:
Sift 6 TB powdered sugar into a bowl and mix in 2 TB maple syrup.   Slowly add more maple syrup until you have icing of a consistency that will run off of your spoon.  This might be another 1/2 TB of maple syrup.  Drizzle the icing over the cake while still on the cooling rack, with a piece of waxed paper slid underneath to catch drips.  Allow the icing to set before serving.
I have not tried the Maple Sugar Icing, so I cannot attest to it's greatness.  I can however attest to the greatness of this cake.  It is delicious.  Who needs fruitcake when you could have this cake??  It is amazingly moist and so flavorful.  Your mouth will enjoy figuring out the different flavors and textures in the cake!  The different pieces of apple and cranberry and pecans add a great crunch.  
When I made this for my friend's retirement party, I pulled it out of the oven and plopped it on the cooling rack in a shallow cardboard box.  Then I threw it in the car with the clever girl and started towards the party.  After about 10 minutes, I unmolded the cake at a stoplight before getting on the freeway.  By the time I got to the party, it was cool enough so I set it on a plate, sprinkled the powdered sugar on top, and brought it in the restaurant!  Phew!  Nothing like baking on the fly!
And TOTALLY worth it.  
Some day I want to procure some mini-bundt pans so I can give little versions of this cake as gifts.  Great idea, don't you think?

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