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Holiday Bundt Apple Cake

One of the shared quirks of most Canadians is our propensity to focus on the weather (well, that, and our internationally-recognized, world-renowned politeness. Oh, but please do excuse me for interrupting that train of thought with a parenthesis–how very rude! I do apologize). 

We tend to talk about the weather, attempt to predict the weather, fume about the weather, complain vociferously about the weather, aim to forestall the weather, dread the weather, boast about surviving the weather, try desperately to ignore the weather, occasionally (like two days a year) rejoice at the weather, discuss and ponder and ruminate about the weather. . . basically, we are obsessed by the weather. Why? 

Well, I suppose, it has something to do with our ancestors and early settlers whose lives really were ruled by the vagaries of snow, sleet and wind, or the whims of Mother Nature–one false move in January in Peterborough, and you ended up dead.  These days, of course, we’ve got heating and insulation during the winter months, but it seems we’ve inherited the predilection to stress about the weather all year round.

This past weekend, for instance, the air was gloriously warm but maddeningly humid.  Now, why couldn’t we simply combine the temperatures with the sunshine of a crisp February morning, and call it a summer’s day?  I’m really a warm-weather gal, despite my lack of any athletic or outdoorsy skills or prowess.  I am happy to sit outside in the back yard, read a book or magazine, or simply watch The Girls wrestle on the grass when the weather is felicitous. 

When people first find out that I was born and raised in Montreal, they inevitably comment, “Oh, well, then, you MUST be a skier, right, with all that snow you get over there?”  Sadly, no.  I do not ski.  I do not skate. I do not snowmobile on a lake. I do not like the snow on ground, I do not like it where it’s found. I do not like the cold or snow–I do not like it, I wish it would GO.  (Ah, yes, once again, I must apologize for going off on a rant.  And to Dr. Seuss, too, of course.)

Now that fall has almost arrived, the climate is beginning to evoke thoughts of cosy sweaters, fuzzy blankets, knees tucked up before the fireplace. When we take The Girls for their walks along the trails, the barren trees on either side of the paths span above our heads, branches reaching across to touch each other as if holding hands. Carpets of brown, red, and orange leaves crinkle below our feet as we stroll along. There is, I must admit, something rather appealing about it all. In addition, autumn is the harbinger of Holiday Season–for some, as early as the end of the month.

The other day, my friend Eternal Optimist asked about recipes for Rosh Hashanah.  The Jewish New Year falls on September 28th this year, and she was looking for new recipes for baked goods, as her son recently became vegan and most of her current recipes contain eggs and dairy.  I thought about the traditional Rosh Hashanah recipes focusing on apples and honey, and remembered a cake my mom used to bake when we were kids. The recipe was from a Mazola Corn Oil recipe card, and (along with a hefty portion of corn oil) featured both apples and honey in a huge bundt cake embracing thinly sliced Macintoshes between layers of fragrant, moist honey cake, so that it kind of resembled a cross-section of the Canadian Shield when cut, the strata of golden, caramelized fruit nestled between tender, tawny cake.  Well, of course, once I thought of it, I simply had to re-create that cake.

I couldn’t find my mum’s recipe, so I made one up based on a vanilla cake I created a few years ago, adding brown rice syrup as a stand-in for honey, paired with cinnamon and Sucanat-dusted apples.  Here, then, is my version of the childhood favorite.  This cake is perfect for any holiday celebration, as it could easily serve a crowd. It’s not overly fancy, so if you’d like to dress it up a bit, glaze it with your favorite glaze or dust with confectioner’s sugar, if you choose.  The fruit filling is generous and bountiful, just like the harvest in autumn, and might even make you forget the cloudy, stormy, chilly air outside while you indulge. 

Since this cake was based on one my mom used to make, I’m submitting it to the “Making History” event hosted by Allan at Recovered Recipes.  The event asks you to find (and photograph) an old recipe card and post the outcome of the recipe.  My version of the old recipe is one that my mom used to make, which I found in a handwritten baking book:

[Yep, that’s an old recipe, all right. . . ]

And here’s the updated version!

Holiday Apple Bundt Cake

I’ve been known to enjoy a slice of this for breakfast–add a handful of nuts and really, isn’t that a balanced meal?

4 1/2-5 cups (1 liter to 1200 ml.) very thin apple slices (from about 4 large peeled and cored apples–or leave the peel on, if you prefer; I used a combination of Gala and Granny Smith, as that’s what we had)

1/4 cup ( g.) Sucanat

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) cinnamon

1/2 cup (120 ml.) light agave nectar

1/4 cup (60 ml.) brown rice syrup

1/3 cup (80 ml.) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic

3/4 cup (180 ml.) plain or vanilla soymilk or almond milk

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.)  pure lemon extract

2 tsp. (10 ml.) apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. (10 ml.) finely ground chia seeds (Salba)

1-1/2 cups (215 g.) light spelt flour

3/4 cup (90 g.) whole barley flour

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) baking powder

1 tsp. (5 ml.) baking soda

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F (180 C).  Grease a large bundt pan with coconut oil, or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the sucanat and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the agave, rice syrup, oil, soymilk, vanilla, lemon extract, apple cider vinegar, and chia seeds until smooth.  Ensure that there are no little lumps of chia seeds remaining.  Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.

In another large bowl, sift together the spelt flour, barley flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt.  Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Don’t worry if a few dry spots remain here or there.

Spread about 1/3 of the batter in the bottom of the pan (this doesn’t have to be exact; just estimate).  Next, take about half the apples and layer them over the batter in the pan, taking care not to touch the sides of the pan (it’s not a tragedy if they do; it will just make it a bit more difficult to get the baked cake out of the pan later on).  Using a tablespoon, dot the apples with another 1/3 of the batter.  Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter over the apples, covering them entirely if you can.  Use up the apples to top the batter with another layer of apple slices.  Finally, use the tablespoon to cover the apples with the final third of batter, and spread the batter across the apples as evenly as possible with a rubber spatula.  There should be mostly batter on top, but it’s okay if a few edges of apple stick out here or there.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to an hour, rotating the pan once about halfway through, until a tester comes out clean when placed halways between the two sides of the pan at any point.  The top of the cake should be domed and browned.

Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a serving plate or cooling rack.  Cool completely before slicing.  Makes about 24 small servings or 12 large servings.  May be frozen.

[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog.  For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]

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32 comments to Holiday Bundt Apple Cake

  • Celine

    it totally IS a balanced meal, for breakfast. no one could convince me of the opposite. rock the cake, baby!

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  • Weather is definitely a strange phenomenon!

    That cake is DEFINITELY worthy of a balanced meal – yum!!

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  • That sounds really great!

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  • When I think of Canada, I think of hockey… but maybe that’s just because I am in love with the sport :o).

    But now when I think of Canada, I am going to be dreaming about that apple bundt cake.

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  • Sue

    Mmmm that does look nice Ricki, I think I will try it out soon. Here in England we obsess about the weather just as much as you, although it seems that as a nation we are no longer possess the politeness that you do – the national sport these days seems to be behaving as rudely as possible at every opportunity. Especially on tv where being mean to people keen to give things a go (singing, dancing etc) seems to pull in the viewers. Hmm. Not me I’m afraid – anyway, that’s another subject for another day! Cake is what matters. x

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  • Hi Ricki, beautiful cake! Very inspiring 😛 (I just made a healthier wheat-free version of my grandma’s chocolate zucchini cake…)

    About the weather, I have to admit that I’m obsessed with it too – a typical Canadian. The website I visit most often is the Environment Canada site for the forecast, as well as the radar and satellite imagery. If there’s a 30% chance of showers, and I’m heading out on my bike, I like to be prepared! Also makes for great conversation 😉

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  • that looks lovely. I’ve been working on a honey apple cake for the holidays that is vaguely along those lines this weekend…but if it goes belly up, I’ll have to see if I can tweak yours instead. I LOVE apple cake!!!

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  • that looks awesome 🙂 I don’t ski either, and growing up in upstate NY, people always expect me to as well! And definately well-balanced enough for breakfast… I was thinking of going for clafouti this am, but then I realized I already had some apple-spice steel cut oats made a few days before… tomorrow!

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  • Wow, that’s totally my kind of cake!

    Ha ha, I think your talk about the weather has something to do with the fact that some of your ancestors were British 😉

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  • Looks like a very nice way to ring in the New Year. 😀

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  • OMG — it’s gorgeous! Finally, a cake I can justify eating for breakfast 🙂

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  • Just thinking of Canada puts a smile on my face! Ah… And well, depending on how this election turns out, I may have to move north of the US border!

    The apple cake sounds absolutely delicious – ever since my visit to Canada in July I’ve become obsessed with finding dessert recipes using apples, which is strange for me because my entire life I’ve never been a fan of cooked apples. Something in Canada changed me, and I’m now obsessed with apple desserts! Thanks for the recipe!!

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  • Courtney

    Ha ha–when people find out I grew up in MN they often make similar comments, but I am with you–not a skier, not a snowmobiler, not an ice skater…I like INDOOR winter activities :o)

    Do you think this cake would work in a non-bunt pan pan? I don’t have a bunt pan, but this cake sounds too good to pass up!

    Thanks
    Courtney

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  • weather is an obsession in Melbourne too – four seasons in one day – but I much prefer four seasons to the hot and dry of the tropical climate! Nothing like time outside in the backyard after being cooped up inside during winter! Nice cake too – and hope your friend’s son will enjoy it

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  • Haha, Yes! In Canada, weather is like a big topic of discussion, and not just in awkward moments. I like the snow, but not too much, or the kind that makes me cold. I’m not a cold lover. And, considering I’m always cold, it makes sense. Anyways, warm apples on a cold day sound great to me. And this cake looks wonderful!

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  • I can’t believe how quickly the weather is changing in Pittsburgh. This cake looks warm and comforting.

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  • This looks just amazing! Can you believe I can’t find a bundt pan here?? I know, how messed up is that!

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  • FIRST, THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR AMAZING COMMENTS! I really do think my blog readers are just the best.

    Well, it’s finally happened. . . seems I can either respond to all the comments on my blog, OR leave comments on other blogs, but it appears I am no longer able to do both 🙁 .

    So, with a heavy heart (and heavy everything, if I’m honest), I’ve decided I’ll respond to direct questions or comments that require feedback, but otherwise I’ll be off the comment page for a while. . . at least until my cookbook is done.

    I WILL, HOWEVER, CONTINUE TO READ AND APPRECIATE EVERY SINGLE COMMENT I RECEIVE! It was extremely difficult to come to this decision, but I’m afraid I literally don’t have enough minutes in the day to accomplish this all. And I do want my cookbook to be published in early 2009, as planned! I hope you all understand and do keep leaving those comments, as I love reading them!

    Thanks,
    Ricki

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  • Courtney and Shellyfish (and anyone else w/o a bundt pan):

    You can make this in a square 8 or 9 inch pan as well. The full recipe makes 2 pans, so I’d just halve it for one pan. Use 1/2 the batter (or a touch more) on the bottom of the pan, top with all the apples, then finish with the other 1/2 of the batter. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until deep golden. Just as good! 🙂

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  • This cake is so beautiful! I love apples. I too like the combinination of galas and green apples for baking (only galas for eating!). You should submit this to keyingredient apple contest too.

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  • giz

    What a great cake for Rosh Hashana. I looked at the list of ingredients and thought – ok – I don’t even know what half of this is. I might need a lesson or 10.

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  • Cake for breakfast? Hell yeah!

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  • What a gorgeous looking cake! Baked to perfection. As much as I don’t like the cold, it does give me an excuse to stay indoors and bake.

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  • This is perfection!! I can see that the grass really is greener 3 hours north! 🙂 I’m gonna have to try this one!

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  • The beginning of fall is definitely a good excuse to eat lots of cake! This looks fabulous, Ricki. Nice job as usual!

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  • Very nice, and interesting ingredients! I will have to figure some of those out (chia?) I have a coffeecake I’m dying to make with figs this weekend. The chilly air makes me want to bake!

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  • giz

    Still drooling over your cake
    There’s an award on our blog for you 🙂

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  • The pattern on your cake looks the way I wanted my raisin cake to look but the pattern from my new pan is much less distinct. I made my cake about three weeks ago but still haven’t gotten around to posting it yet! One of these days… It was layered like yours, but with raisins and cocoa instead of apples. Yours looks delish.

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  • That’s the second time today (and ever) that I’ve seen chia seeds in a recipe… interesting to see how their being used. I want that cake sooo badly right now. Oh, and here’s one Canadian who is not complaining about the weather! (as long as it stays 23 deg and sunny… forever)

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  • Giz and Michelle:

    Chia seeds are a wonderful (fairly new) seed on the market that seem to have all the benefits of flax and more. I used ground as an egg substitute and just love them. I’m planning to do a little post on them, so stay tuned! You can find them here in pretty much any health food store, and they’re also available online.

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  • this cake looks very delish! thanks for viewing my little food blog! i am trying to get better at it…better pictures and more recipes! i just love yours, and the apple cake looks so goooood. (alice is a nickname btw, you can call me ally!)

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  • […] Holiday Bundt Apple Cake from Diet, Dessert, and Dogs – My mom used to make a caramel apple bundt cake that I’d been trying to emulate for a while.  Once I found this recipe I knew my search was through.  I highly recommend this cake. […]

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