Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bundt #3 of BCS5: Cranberry-Pecan Bread (aka the Hurricane Bundt)

Baked on October 29, 2012

As I mentioned when I did a mini-post on it back at the end of October, I took the forecast of Hurricane Sandy as a call to break out my bundt pan.

In October of 2011, we had an unseasonably early snow storm.  Because it was autumn, and not terribly cold out, the snow was very heavy.  That heavy snow landed on trees which had not dropped most of their leaves, which then lead to downed branches and downed trees.  And that in turn, lead to power outages.  The Main Squeeze and I were lucky, because although our back porch did take a hit, and we were without power, unlike many folks around us in neighboring towns, we got our power back in about a day and a half.

As far as damage from that October 2011 storm goes, we were really lucky.

With that experience fresh in my mind a year later, the forecasted arrival of another big storm and the possibly of being without power again, meant preparing for that worst-case scenario.  And that meant making sure we had things to eat that did not require power (or opening the fridge).  I wanted something that was going to be a bit healthier and heartier than cake, and I love cranberries, so when I found this Cranberry Nut Bread recipe in my Bundt Cookbook, I thought it would be perfect.

The recipe actually called for cranberry-orange relish, but I just substituted a cup of sliced cranberries instead. The final step of the recipe struck me as strange, "When cool, wrap bread tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store overnight before slicing."  I am really curious why they want you to do that, but I wasn't about to follow that step.  I will say this, after the first day, the consistency of the bread was  a little weird.  Kind of like it started going stale pretty quickly, but not exactly that.  I don't know if following the wrap-and-store-overnight step would have prevented that.  I also don't know if the bread would have simply benefitted from being kept in foil (or plastic wrap), rather than in the Tupperware cake taker I always use for my bundt cakes.

I'm not sure I'd make this bread in the future, but it was fun to give it a try.  I've had other cranberry breads that I've liked better.  I think I might just find another cranberry bread recipe, and perhaps try it in the bundt pan, in the future.  This one was really good the first day, though.

Here's the recipe:

3 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cups sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup cranberry-orange relish (Though as I mentioned, I just used a cup of sliced cranberries--I had some frozen.  If you have frozen cranberries you want to use, don't bother to defrost them, just slice 'em in half and throw them in.  If you want a cranberry-orange flavor, then just put in some orange zest.  A tablespoon or two should do it.)
1 cup chopped pecans (other nuts would work too)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until blended.
Add egg to butter mixture and mix well.
Add sifted dry ingredients and milk alternately to butter mixture; mix thoroughly.
Stir in cranberry relish (or sliced cranberries and orange zest, if using) and pecans.
Bake in a greased and floured (I just use baking spray) 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until bread tests done.
Cool in pan 10-15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to complete cooling.
When completely cool, wrap bread in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store overnight before slicing.

As I mentioned in my mini-post on this, I had chosen my "wave" bundt pan, as I think of it (but which is actually Nordic Ware's Heritage bundt pan) because since this was a bread, there was definitely not going to be any glaze (which I think of working less well with this shape bundt).  What I didn't realize, until I turned it out of the pan, is how appropriate it was for a bread made in anticipation of a hurricane.  See:

There is a 100% chance of cranberries and pecans.
In any case, we were lucky and the storm wasn't so bad for us--no loss of power or downed tree limbs on our house.  So, I'm crediting the hurricane bread.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bundt #2 of BCS5: Caramel Apple Cake

Baked on October 14, 2012

Our local neighborhood association had its annual meeting on October 14th.  Part of the meeting included an "apple fest" where folks were to bring an apple dish.  Clearly, I had only one option, which was to make an apple bundt cake.  My first destination for a recipe was my favorite bundt cookbook, Kiss My Bundt by Chrysta Wilson, but sadly, no apple cake recipes were to be found there.  So, my next stop was the old school Bundt Cookbook put out by the originators of the bundt pan, Nordic Ware.  There, I was drawn to the Caramel Apple Cake.  And so, it was decided that was the cake I was bringing to the annual meeting.

Because I was running late (as usual) I neglected to take any pictures of the cake, until after the meeting.  (As you can see from the picture for this post.)  You can also see that the cake was well received, which was interesting to me, since I, myself, did not love this cake.  The caramel glaze really was not caramel-y.  Instead, it had an almost maple flavor.  I think it's due to all the powdered sugar in the glaze recipe.  If I were to make this again, I'd find something more traditionally caramel--butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk (or even better, cream).  So, that's my recommendation to you.  Find a better glaze.  (If you look at the picture, you can see the glaze is not the right color for caramel--that's all that powered sugar mucking things up.)

I don't remember much about this cake (see, this is a problem with waiting three months to write your posts), just that I thought it was okay.  Again, though, other people really liked it.  One neighbor even asked me for the recipe, as it was her favorite item there!  And another neighbor, when I mentioned on Facebook that I didn't love the cake, also gave it high praise--and she described herself as being "fussy."  So, there ya go.  Oh, speaking of that FB post, I see I said that if I were to make the cake again, I'd leave out the raisins (and I like raisins!).  So, that's good to know.

So, yeah, now that you're all excited to try this cake for yourself, here's the recipe.

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups, peeled, thinly sliced apples
1 cup chopped nuts (I think I used pecans.  And you should always toast nuts for the best flavor.)
1/2 cup raisins (like I said, I'd leave these out; let the apples shine.  Hell, maybe add another 1/2 of apples?)

For the glaze (Though again, I really, really recommend finding a different glaze! Unless you want a more maple-y glaze, then use this one.):
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 4 teaspoons milk
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped nuts

Directions for the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray pan with baking spray (or you can use the grease & flour method).
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.
In a large bowl, blend all cake ingredients except nuts and raisins, beat 2 minutes at high speed.
I am certain I did not follow that step, but rather, whisked the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in one bowl.  And then, in my stand mixer, beat the butter for 2 minutes on medium, until light.  Then slowly added the sugar, and let it mix for another two minutes, until fluffy.  Then I would have added the eggs one at a time.  And then added the vanilla.  Finally adding the dry ingredients in batches.  At which point, I'm guessing I let it mix for 2 minutes, per the directions above.
Stir in nuts and raisins.
Spoon into prepared pan.
Bake 45 - 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool upright in the pan 30 minutes; invert onto a serving plate.
Cool completely.

Directions for the glaze (or try this one, it looks good):
In a small saucepan, melt butter.
Stir in brown sugar; remove from heat. (I know I kept it on the heat and let it cook for a little while, in an effort to get it more caramel-y.)
Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk; blend well.
Immediately spoon over cake.
Sprinkle with nuts.

Bundt #1 of BCS5 - Honey Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

Baked on September 30, 2012.

I was motivated to start Bundt Cake Season 5 earlier than previous seasons, in part, because my colleague, AJ, sent me this recipe for Honey Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze (and a sprinkling of sea salt) and it looked delicious.  I was also motivated to get an early start to BCS5, because I ended up baking so few bundts last season (four total, though I only posted about two).  So, I was eager to get out my bundt pans and get baking!

I have been searching for a good Honey Cake recipe for awhile.  My old CSA used to sell these amazing honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah, which had raisins and carrots in them(not dissimilar to carrot cake), but that CSA no longer exists, hence the search for a honey cake recipe of my own.

This cake, although it has neither carrots nor raisins (which I'm pretty sure were unique to that baker's interpretation, as I don't think most honey cakes have either) still looked really good.  And how can you go wrong with a dark chocolate glaze and a sprinkling of sea salt?  The answer is, you really can't. Also, clearly this Honey Cake was meant for me, because it was a bundt cake.

I brought this cake into work to share with my coworkers and the Dean (who usually avoids sweets and things that aren't healthy, in general) poked his head into my office and told me, "You could sell this."  That was high praise.  

As the description at Epicurious says, this cake is ideal for any occasion, so no need to wait for the next Rosh Hashanah to make this.

Here's the recipe (which you can also find here).


For cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup pure honey
3/4 cup lukewarm coffee (brewed, or instant dissolved in water)
1 1/2 teaspoons packed grated orange zest

For chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped (I just used dark chocolate chocolate chips.)
Out of the pan, before the glaze.
For garnish:
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (optional)


For cake:
Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously spray pan, including center tube, with baking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs well in another large bowl and whisk in sugar, oil, honey, coffee, and zest until well combined.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the honey mixture, then stir with the whisk until the batter is smooth.

Pour batter into pan (it’s liquid enough to level itself in the pan), and bake in oven until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes.

Loosen cake from the pan with a thin rubber spatula, then invert cake onto the rack and cool completely.

For glaze:
Bring coconut milk and corn syrup to a simmer in a small heavy pan, stirring until combined.

Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Let chocolate stand 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is melted and glaze is smooth.

Let glaze stand, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, but still pourable.

Transfer cake to a cake plate and slowly pour the chocolate glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. If desired, let the cake stand at room temperature until glaze is set.
Freshly glazed cake, pre-sea salt.

Just before serving, sprinkle glaze lightly with flaky sea salt, if using.

Helpful hint from Epicurious (check out their web site for other hints):
Measuring oil and honey: Both should be measured in a liquid measuring cup. The oil is listed first, because if you measure the honey in it afterward, without washing the cup, the honey will slide out easily, with barely any help needed from a rubber spatula. 

Let's Get this Bundt Cake Season Back on Track!

Sadly, I seem to be following in last season's footsteps.  But unlike last season, I have been making more bundts!  (Though there has been a two-month lull since my last bundt.  I do have plans to fix that tomorrow, however.)

Clearly, I'm not cut out to be a very good blogger.  Oh well.  Let's just see if I can get this blog back up to speed.