When I was young my mom would make my birthday cake every year, and she was amazing at it. You know the ones you see in the store with the cake turned into a Barbie dream dress? Well, those were the types of cakes I grew up with. So when I got into cooking, I was disappointed in my artistic skills, specifically in the frosting area. Bundt cakes changed all that. Unlike a normal cake, with the Bundt you don’t have to frost. Since the design is in the tin, you can serve these cakes as they are. Some people add frosting or glazes to the top, but that is usually a simple coating. Bundts quickly turned into some of my favorite types of cake to make.
Ingredients: FROM Southern Living September 2011
Cream cheese filling
- 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans (plus extra for garnish, optional)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (about 2-3 medium apples)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To make the filling: Add the cream cheese, butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth. Add the egg, flour and vanilla and continue beating just until incorporated. Set aside.
- A trick I learned in order to make this as creamy as possible is to warm the cream cheese. Just like butter, you want the cream cheese to be soft so it is not lumpy. If you don’t have time to let it sit out, what I do is put it in the microwave for no more than 20 seconds. Make sure to have a damp cloth over the container. This is to keep all the moisture in the cream cheese. This will soften it enough so once mixed it is nice and creamy.
Place the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or just until fragrant. Remove the pan to a wire rack.
- When you turn the oven on it’s so simple to have the pecans in the oven, so as the oven is getting hot so are the pecans. Make sure to not leave them in there too long so as not to burn them. I’ve come to realize just like coffee when it is being heated, nuts give off a pleasant aroma.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, both sugars, the cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and allspice together. Add the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix just until combined (I started with a whisk and switched to a rubber spatula). Fold in the toasted pecans and chopped apples until distributed throughout the batter.
- You always want to start off with your dry ingredients and your wet ingredients separate. I know some people think since it’s all ending up together let’s save dishes by only using one bowl, but I would not advise that.
- Also, make sure not to cut your apples up too small or they will become like the apple sauce. Always make sure to have the apples all be roughly the same size so they cook evenly. You don’t want the pieces to be so big when your guest takes a bite they have to crunch their way through your cake.
Spoon about 1/2 to 2/3 of the cake batter into the prepared 12-cup Bundt pan. Top evenly with the cream cheese filling, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of the pan (I found this tricky; just do the best you can). Use a thin paring knife to swirl the cream cheese filling with the cake batter just a few times – less is more. Top the filling with the remaining cake batter.
- This is where I went wrong. My Bundt was a rose pattern instead of the normal crescent pattern. Which means it was only 10’’. 2 inches is a large amount when it comes to a cake pan. I did not know the size before I added my batter, which meant I had more batter than I had tin.
- Quick tip before you add anything: make sure you spray your tin down really well. You can also take a pastry brush and butter and go to town painting the inside, including the middle chimney, then flour it so you can see where you missed.
- When you add the cream cheese middle, try to get it in the middle. This is for the sole purpose of the outside of your cake being one color. I tried, but unfortunately was not perfect in this regard, so as you can see in the pictures my cake is two colors. That is because the cream cheese was close to the tin.
- Know that you do not have to use all the cream cheese or cake batter for this one Bundt. I did, and well, I was lucky that it still worked out to say the least. Make sure you only put enough batter in where the tin is ¾ full but not to the top. Like all cakes, you want it to rise.
- Plus, any extra batter can be used to make a smaller cake just for you.
Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and allow it to cool completely (at least 2 hours).
- I put the cake in the oven and sat down. I literally sat on my kitchen floor watching the cake. When you fill a cake pan, you tend to only fill it halfway since it will expand. Mine started at the brim before I even cooked it. I knew it was going to expand, but I didn’t know how much, and I was so scared it was going to go all over my oven. So I did what any logical human would do: I sat and watched it slowly get higher and higher. By the time it was done, there was no longer a hole in the middle. The dough had fallen in and made its own little cake. It looked like the world’s largest muffin. You couldn’t even see the hole in the middle. It got eaten by the batter.
- After I let it cool, I did a little trick. I took a long carving knife and found the top of the pan and just sliced the excess off in one fell swoop. It went from being way too much cake to the perfect size cake. Plus it made it flat again so it didn’t look like it had a muffin top. When you do this, it’s easier if you do it in the pan so you can use the top of the pan as a guide. Just rest the knife on top and slice. I then put a plate on the bottom and flipped. It slid right out; what a relief that was!
To make the frosting: Combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in a 2-qt saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking almost constantly. Boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, until it is completely incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Gently stir the frosting until it starts to thicken, then pour it over the cooled cake. (The frosting will set up quickly, so don’t make it in advance – wait until the cake has cooled completely.) Garnish with extra pecans, if desired.
- My praline glaze was supposed to be praline frosting. When I made it, it would not thicken. I tasted it. It still tasted good. So I decided to call it a glaze and go with it. Sometimes you can make mess-ups work. Never feel obligated to toss something and start again if it tastes good. My advice: just re-name it. You made it; you can call it whatever you want.
In the end I was happy I used the rose tin instead of the normal crescent shape even though it is a little smaller. This cake was filled with a subtle blend of flavors. The toasted pecans give it a beautiful, nutty flavor mixed with the creaminess of the cream cheese which just pairs so well. A little Bundt history: this rich cake is originally from Europe. Unlike other cake pans, the Bundt has a hole in the middle (for my movie lovers, you can all remember “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, the Bundt exchange). This hole or “chimney” is there specifically so that more of the batter is touching the pan. Not only has the outside rim touched the batter, but the middle has as well. This helps the cake cook more evenly and quicker than other cakes.