Now that we’re well into October, I’m happy to say that we’ve officially arrived at what I believe is the most fantastic time of the year: High Baking Season. During absolutely any day in the months of October, November, and December one can legitimately bake for no other reason than it’s simply the right thing to do. And what a beautiful thing that is! It makes me glow from the inside, really. And now you know all my secrets.
The trouble with this time of year, though, is all the options. When you only have so many months to be a baking machine without guilt or worrying about heating up the house with the oven on, or concern for who’s going to eat all that cake, it’s not without conflict. After all, when you can bake All the Things, what will you choose? And when fall is really the very best time for so many recipes–think pumpkin loaf, apple cake, a cozy Bundt for countertop snacking, nutty streusel-topped coffee cake to go with the afternoon caffeine pick-me-up–it can be quite the predicament to make a decision when it comes to firing up that oven and pulling out the appropriate pan.
And so, in the interest of solving Major Life Problems and celebrating all that is glorious about fall baking, I give you the Ultimate Autumn Bundt Cake. It’s basically the Spice Girls of fall desserts, if one of the band members was called Pumpkin Spice. (Huzzah!)
Here we have a super moist pumpkin loaf-like batter, studded with Honeycrisp apple bits and scented with that unbeatable trio of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The secret to the depth of flavor and color in this part of the cake is the use of a super high-quality brown sugar, like Organic Light Brown Sugar from Wholesome!™. I’ve long been a fan of swapping out standard issue light brown sugar for dark brown instead, because the flavor payoff is huge for the same amount of money, and they’re basically interchangeable. But Wholesome!™’s brown sugars up the ante even more–their light brown sugar is already at the level that a run-of-the-mill dark brown sugar would be, so you can only imagine how phenomenal the flavor of the Organic Dark Brown Sugar is (I’ll get to that in a later recipe). When I ripped open the bag of Wholesome!’s light brown sugar, I was punched in the face with molasses fragrance, in the best possible way. It’s really, really good stuff.
Once you get the cake batter made, it’s time to jazz things up with Streusel Spice (kind of like Posh, but with a lot more calories involved). I always love to incorporate a little turbinado sugar in any streusel topping for the incredible texture and sparkle it lends. Since the streusel in this particular recipe is layered within the cake, you don’t get the sparkle factor like you do when topping a baked good with turbinado, but you do get that subtle crave-worthy sugary crunchy, along with a salty-sweetness and lots of toasty pecans.
Of course, the whole thing (and lo, there is a lot of batter and accessory streusel here) is layered in a big old Bundt pan, which just screams fall comfort to me. Except I guess fall comfort doesn’t really scream. It sort of sings, softly, perhaps backed by an auto-tuned vocal track. Kind of like the Spice Girls. But I digress. The bottom line is that it’s time to don your chunkiest sweater, light a scented candle, and fire up that coffee pot–get ready for a the fall cake that will slay them all.
Ultimate Autumn Bundt Cake
I love using white whole wheat flour here for an extra nutrient punch, but you can totally use regular all-purpose flour as well. When it comes to cinnamon in baking, I always look for bold Vietnamese cinnamon. And make sure to grab pure pumpkin puree, and not pumpkin pie filling, for the batter. Stirring the apples into the wet ingredients as opposed to folding them into the batter at the end seems to help suspend them in the cake a bit better and keep them all from sinking.
For the cake batter:
3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
3/4 cup grapeseed, vegetable, or canola oi
1 1/2 cups Wholesome! Organic Light Brown Sugar
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 medium Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
For the streusel:
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup Wholesome!™ Organic Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
Wholesome!™ Organic Powdered Sugar, for dusting
Position an oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Generously spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the cake batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.
In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the apple bits. Fold in the flour mixture until well-blended.
To make the streusel, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, turbinado, and salt. Add the butter bits and work into the flour until the streusel is nubbly in texture and holds together when you grab a small handful in your fist. Fold in the pecans.
To assemble the cake, Pour about a third of the batter into the prepared pan. Layer over half the streusel. Repeat the layering process one more time, and then finish it off with the final third of the batter.
Bake until the cake is begins to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted deeply in the center of the cake comes out clean, 80 to 90 minutes. (If at any point the cake comes too brown, cover with aluminum foil.) Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. To serve, invert the cake onto a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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