One of my favorite bloggers Anita of Dessert First is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday event. Sugar High Friday was created by The Domestic Goddess Jennifer to celebrate all things sweet. Anita chose "Spices" as the theme for this round since it's the perfect time for the cozy warmth that spices provide as the autumn chill surrounds us.
I've wanted to post about this all-in-one holiday cake for months, but I held off until now since the flavors would've seemed out of place at any time of year except fall and winter. I personally love pumpkin and use it for baking all year round, but some people think it should only be used in the autumn. Like the time I made pumpkin bread in April and I brought it to the office to share. When I offered some pumpkin bread to a visiting consultant she turned her nose up and said "No thanks. It's not fall yet." Well, poo to you lady, that just means more pumpkin for the rest of us in the "off season".
Now this cake is filled with all the delicious foods we love during the holidays (hence the name all-in-one). I call it Thanksgiving cake and jokingly tell people there's turkey and gravy in there too. But, seriously, it has pumpkin, apples, fresh cranberries, pecans, and maple syrup. Oh yeah, and spices too. Lots of them - cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Hmmm, the house smells so good when this is baking in the oven.
The cake really does taste like the holidays. The pumpkin is subtle enough to let the spices shine through and it also adds a lovely golden hue to the cake. The soft apple nuggets are studded throughout and adds a touch of moisture to the cake. The pecans add a toasty crunch and the cranberries are deliciously tart. The maple syrup icing is the crowning glory which makes this a perfect cake for this time (or, in my opinion, anytime) of the year.
All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake
(Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours)
(makes one 9- to 10-inch Bundt cake)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves (optional)
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoon/5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated 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 (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Optional: Maple syrup icing (see recipe below)
To make the cake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. 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 pan's open core.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves (if using) and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside dry ingredients.
Working with a stand mixer (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 and apples - don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the flour is just barely incorporated. Working with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, 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 at 350F, 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. Drizzle with maple syrup icing (if using) or simply dust the top lightly with confectioners' sugar.
Maple syrup icing:
Sift 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons pure 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 to get the right consistency. Put the cooled on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and drizzle the icing over the cake. Let the icing set for a few minutes before serving.