Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This recipe was chosen by Brittin of The Nitty Britty. Once again, this month I'm baking all the TWD recipes out of order. This week was crazy-hectic-busy so I needed something that would come together in the midst of making dinner, doing accounting homework, talking on Skype with my school group partners and making sure my son doesn't get into too much trouble while I'm not watching him. I prepped a lot of the recipe ahead of time - chopped the cranberries, walnuts and apples, measured out the dry ingredients and set the butter and eggs out to come to room temperature. This is one of the reasons I like quickbreads so much. Once everything is measured out it's just a matter of whirring the wet ingredients in the mixer, throwing in the dry ones for a few seconds and popping it in the oven.
This cake is the embodiment of autumn. All those wholesome, earthy, spicy flavors melded into one beautiful Bundt. It screams "harvest" and "holidays". A chock full of goodies in every bite. While it may not be the most elegant or dainty cake, it's certainly very pretty. Little red cranberries peeking out amidst chunks of apple and nuts. Mmmm...
I always make sure to grease my Bundt pan reeeaallly well with shortening and flour. I use my hands to make sure it gets in all the little cracks and crevices. My heart always skips a beat in that moment when you flip the pan over to unmold it. Will it stick? Won't it? And then a sigh of relief when the cake slides out intact in all its Bundt-shaped glory. I think for Christmas this year I'm going to ask for a NordicWare Bundt pan. I have a Wilton one right now and it works well enough, but I guess I'm being a brat wanting the "real thing", just like Le Creuset is THE BRAND known for cookware.... or maybe it's just an excuse for me to get another item for my already too full kitchen. :)
All-in-One Holiday Cake
1 - 10" Bundt Cake
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
2 tbsp maple syrup
6 tbsp icing sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (about 12-cup) bundt pan. Do not place the pan on a baking sheet—you want the oven's heat to come up through the bundt's open core. Put the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt (and ground ginger, if you're using it) in a bowl and whisk to combine.
Working with a mixer (and using a paddle attachment, if you have one), 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 add the pumpkin, chopped apples and grated ginger—don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Working with a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans.
Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Slide the pan into the oven and bake 60 to 70 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature on the rack.
Maple Sugar Icing: Sift 6 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar into a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Add more maple syrup little by little, until you have an icing that runs nicely off the tip of a spoon. You might need another 1/2 tablespoon of syrup to get the consistency. Put the cooled cake on a sheet of waxed paper and drizzle the icing from the tip of a spoon over the cake. Let the icing set for a few minutes before serving.
Serving: Just before bringing the cake to the table, dust it with confectioner's sugar. Because of the apples, cranberries and nuts, this cake doesn't lend itself to being cut into dainty slices—and it's just as well: You really want to get a mouthful of this bundt, the better to appreciate its many flavors. The cake needs no embellishments if you're serving it as an afternoon treat, but it is really nice with softly whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. For brunch, toast the cake lightly and spread it with a little salted butter and/or a slick of pure maple syrup.
Storing: Wrapped well, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days, at which point it will be perfect for toasting, or for up to 2 months in the freezer.