Friday was my little sister Allison's birthday. She's the beautiful bride in the picture up there. I'm the Matron of Honor. That sounds old, doesn't it? Anyway, since it was her birthday, she got to pick her birthday treat from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours. She picked the Double Apple Bundt Cake. When I read the recipe, I thought two things: "Man, that sounds delicious," and "This sounds like a fall cake." And her birthday is in July. I mean, it's got apples, apple butter, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. It doesn't get more fall-like than that. But it was Allison's birthday, and by golly, if she wanted a fall cake she was gonna get it!
But listen to this. First, let me preface this by telling you that Kentucky in the summer is three words: HAZY, HOT, and HUMID. But this past weekend, we had the most delightful, cool weather you could imagine. It was about 70 degrees on Saturday and about 72 on Sunday! Woo Hoo! It felt like fall all weekend. The perfect time for a double-apple bundt cake! And didn't it turn out nicely? Allison made two requests: no nuts and no icing. She just wanted a dusting of powdered sugar. She's a nice, simple girl...like me! I think we're all pretty much simple folk, the Bickerses, Orrs, and Lawrences. She did get some good natured ribbing from Larry, Chet, and David about the absence of icing. As Mom and I were cutting and plating the cake, we heard her say, "WHEN IT'S YA'LL'S BIRTHDAYS, YOU CAN HAVE ICING!" She cracks me up. I love that girl.
The cake was absolutely fantastic. It was super-moist, and the apple flavor was perfect. It also came together incredibly easy, so it will definitely go into the rotation this fall. I usually have all the ingredients on hand to make it, too...that's always a huge bonus. Here's the recipe for you to file away for the first crisp, cool day of fall. Hopefully Dorie won't whip me for posting her recipe:
Double Apple Bundt Cake
For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup store-bought apple butter, spiced or plain (I used homemade that I've been hoarding for a while)
2 medium Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and grated
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup plump, moist raising (dark or golden...I used golden)
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)
For the Icing (Optional)
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
About 2 Tbs. fresh orange or lemon juice
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. If your pan is not nonstick, dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess. Don't place the pan on a baking sheet--you want the oven's heat to circulate through the Bundt's inner tube.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth, thick, and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition; you'll have a light, fluffy batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the apple butter--don't worry if it curdles the batter. Still on low, add the grated apples and mix completely to blend. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only unil they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts and raisins. Turn the batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding and uncooling the cake to room temperature. If possible, once the cake is completely cool, wrap well in plastic and let it stand overnight at room temperature to ripen the flavors.
If you're not going to ice the cake, you can dust it with confectioner's sugar just before serving.
To make the optional icing: Put the sugar in a small bowl an dstir in a squirt or two of either orange or lemon juice. Keep adding the juice a little at a time until you have an icing that falls easily from the tip of a spoon. Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake, letting it slide down the curves of the cake in whatever pattern it makes. Let the cake stand until the icing dries, a matter of minutes, before slicing.