Pie is ubiquitous for the holidays, but sometimes, enough is enough. Its multiple components, time- and heat-sensitive nature, and finicky crust can make pie a host’s nightmare. As a guest, pie is lovely when it’s good, but I’ve had my fill of soggy crusts, and at this point, I can spot one from the couch. Why not build in some other seasonal dessert options? If you don’t want to bring another pie to your family’s holiday spread this year, bring this jaw-dropping, mouth-watering apple cider cake instead. (Hosts, you can make it too.)
I created this cake to be delicious foremost, but also to be holiday-friendly. It’s sturdy enough for transporting to the host’s home (and back home again), and easy to divvy up amongst guests’ to-go boxes at the end of the night. Once the party’s over and you’re working through leftovers, this cake keeps exceptionally well for up to a week at room temperature or in the fridge — which is more than pie can say for itself.
Of all the cake flavours out there, pumpkin, apple, and spice are probably the biggest winners for fall. Pumpkin gets all the glory, so I decide to highlight apples. And this cake is everything great about ‘em. It includes all the sweet and tart flavours of mulled apple cider, but reduced into a concentrated syrup. (Here’s how to make apple cider syrup.) You’re squeezing about a half gallon’s worth of apple cider power into this cake, because most of the water has evaporated out. The finished cake is a massive beauty. It’s springy, and bursting with the flavours and aromas of apples and brown sugar; it’s the kind of bundt cake that needs a crowd to take it down, but the recipe is designed so it can be easily cut in half to make a smaller cake if desired.
Although the butter is melted in this cake, you’ll be using a modified creaming method. Normally, that involves beating the butter and sugar until fluffy, but in this case, the fats are liquid. The fats get stirred in with the sugars, then eggs and extracts are added, followed by the dry ingredients alternating with a liquid. In this case, the liquid is apple cider syrup. The finished batter will be fairly liquidy. Pour it into a large buttered and floured bundt pan and bake it for 50 to 55 minutes in a 350°F oven. Flip the cake pan onto a cooling rack, but leave the hot pan over it. Cool the cake for 10 minutes before lifting off the bundt pan and cooling it completely, for about an hour.
Finish this cake with the apple cider glaze or a simple dusting of powdered sugar. Enjoy warm with a scoop of ice cream, cold from the fridge, or, in typical Thanksgiving fashion, as a Frankenstein dessert with three other sweets squished onto the same plate.
Apple Cider Bundt Cake
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups of flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup of reduced apple cider syrup
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider (optional for glaze)
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar (optional for glaze)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a standard 12-cup bundt pan by buttering and flouring it thoroughly and all the way up to the rim. Set aside on a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir the butter and oil together with the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs, two at a time, ensuring the mixture is well-blended in between additions. Stir in the vanilla.
Whisk in one-third of the dry ingredients. Whisk in half of the apple cider syrup. Alternate the two again, and finish with the final third of the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake at 180°C for 50-60 minutes. The cake should start pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean.
Flip the cake onto a cooling rack, leaving the pan on for 10 minutes. Remove the pan and allow the cake to cool completely. Serve as is or with the apple cider glaze.
To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and apple cider together until smooth. It should be thick. Spread across the top of the cake and allow it to naturally work its way down the sides.
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