Vera Dawson: Fall flavors come together in tube cake
Cinnamon, nutmeg, apples and allspice – tastes so strongly associated with fall that, whenever I use them, I feel cool days and see leaves falling. And, my goodness, they come together nicely in this delightful little tube cake. Moist, not-too-sweet, with complex flavors and a texture enhanced by chopped pecans and crystallized ginger, it’s as pleasing a spice cake as I’ve encountered.
It’s one of those pastries that’s just nice to have around. It’ll elevate a cup of coffee during the day or provide a satisfying snack when the munchies strike. It’s also a fine ending to a meal; Serve it warm, with ice cream, topped with a drizzle of heated commercial caramel sauce, thinned with a splash of apple juice, apple brandy, or dark rum.
Be sure to use a tube pan with this batter; it needs heat from both the inside and outside to bake properly. I use a ring mold, but a Bundt or angel food cake pan will work just as well. The recipe makes a small cake; if you want to serve more people, double the recipe and make it in a nine-cup tube pan.
We think the flavor of the cake is best a day or two after baking, so, if you can, prepare it ahead. But, once cooled and glazed, it’s pretty tasty, so don’t avoid serving it on the first day it’s out of the oven. The cake keeps well for several days if stored airtight.
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Make in a five-cup tube pan
Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet
8 (eight) tablespoons of unsalted butter at room
temperature (one stick)
1 (one) cup of dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 (one fourth) teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 (one half) teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 (one fourth) teaspoon of allspice
1/4 (one fourth) teaspoon of ginger
1/4 (one fourth) teaspoon of salt
1/4 (one fourth) plus 1/8 (one eighth) teaspoon of
2 (two) large eggs at room temperature
1-1/14 (one and one fourth) cups of flour (spoon
1/4 (one fourth) cup of apple juice
1/3 (one third) cup of toasted and chopped pecans
3 (three) tablespoons of minced crystallized ginger
1 (one) tablespoon of unsalted butter, cut up
1/4 (one fourth) cup of granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
3 (three) tablespoons of apple juice
1-1/2 (one and a half) teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
1/8 (one eighth) teaspoon of ground ginger
Step One: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Generously grease and flour the tube pan (Yes, even if it’s non-stick). Check and make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature.
Step Two: Cut the butter into about eight pieces and put them in a mixing bowl with the brown sugar, all of the spices, the salt and the baking powder. Beat with an electric mixer until the combination is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. Break the two eggs into a cup measure, whisk them to combine, and slowly drizzle them into the butter mixture, beating until the eggs are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Scrape the bowl as needed; the brown sugar-butter mixture is heavy and some may stay at the bottom of the bowl unless you do so.
Step Three: With the mixer at low speed, add the flour in three additions, alternating with the apple juice, starting and ending with flour. Stop the mixer as soon as all of the flour is absorbed. Stir in the chopped nuts and the minced crystallized ginger.
Step Four: Spoon the batter into the greased tube pan, leveling and smoothing it as you go. Bake directly on the oven rack (don’t place the cake pan on a baking sheet; the air needs to circulate into the pan’s center tube) until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. This takes about 34-37 minutes if using a ring mold, longer in a Bundt or angel food cake pan. Remove the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for 15 minutes.
Step Five: While the cake cools, make the glaze: Place all of the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the butter melts and the ingredients are liquid and combined. Increase the heat and let the glaze boil for about a minute to melt the sugar. Remove from the heat.
Step Six: Invert the warm cake onto the cooling rack and carefully remove the pan. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the cake’s top and sides. Gently brush about half to two-thirds of the glaze over the cake.
Set the rest of the glaze aside. When the cake is cool, whisk confectioner’s sugar, one heaping tablespoon
at a time, into the remaining glaze until it reaches a consistency that is thick enough to drizzle over the cake. Drizzle decoratively over the cake’s top and let the glaze set. Serve the cake, cut into fairly thin slices, at room temperature or warmed. If serving as a dessert, accompany with ice cream and a drizzle of warm, commercial caramel sauce thinned with a little apple juice, rum, or apple brandy.
This is a variation of a recipe from The Baking Sheet.
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