Vanilla-Apple Cider Bundt Cake

Every October I’m torn between two existences: my desire to embrace the cooling season, the harvest foods, the upcoming Halloween witchiness, and the slowing down and coziness of the end of the year… But my work life is the complete opposite and pulls me in the other direction by necessity. As a school counselor, it is the busiest time of the year filled with college applications and a constant avalanche of work that is mostly due on… November 1. It breaks my heart each and every year, as all I want to do is immerse in golden-hued leaves and bake allllll the apple and pumpkin and maple things.

Why am I telling you this now, in mid-November, on the eve-eve-eve of Thanksgiving? Because every fall my baking is delayed due to the above chaos, so my heart is still happily ensconced in apple season. Last year I really wanted to try a couple of recipes with boiled apple cider and didn’t get a chance to, so I knew that would be on the top of my list this year for autumn. The one I landed on is the Apple-Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Bundt Cake from The Bundt Collection because the recipe calls for reduced apple cider, apple chunks, apple cider vinegar, and a cake soak with… more apple cider. Mind you, it’s not like I have any shortage of apple cake recipes here; I’m happy to return to this, this, this, this, and this any time of the year, but I think of it kinda like boots, where I can easily and without any hesitation justify owning a dozen pairs of black boots and tell you why each one is different and necessary. (You feel me on this, yes?)

Finally, this is a special post for me because it marks 10 years of writing Stellina Sweets. Actually, if I’m being honest, I missed the mark two months ago. While I have not been terribly prolific in writing over the past few years, I hope to change that in the coming months. It’s hard to believe it’s been a solid decade— goodness, I could not have imagined how different life would be compared to then! As a baker, when I think back to that time as a young spring chicken (bahaha), I was really into cupcakes, cookie decorating, playing with fondant, and lots of quins and sprinkles. My main impetus for starting the blog was to join Baked Sunday Mornings, a baking-blogging group dedicated to baking through all the books from BAKED, a Brooklyn bakery that I’d fallen in love with thanks to their wonderful first cookbook. This experience led to making hundreds of recipes, meeting virtual baking friends, testing recipes for BAKED’s fourth book, and attending the book release party in New York— all of that feels like a lifetime ago. To be clear, there is always a time and place for sprinkles, but point being that my baking got better and better, along with my choice of ingredients and exploration of different pastry adventures. I left behind cupcakes and most of the other decorating-type stuff in favor of focusing on more advanced baking and working toward developing original recipes.

For this scrumptious fall Bundt, I made a few small adjustments to the recipe, namely bumping up the vanilla from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon because that’s the lifestyle I live. I really like the combination of vanilla and apple together and wanted to play up the vanilla here, plus I wanted more apple chunks and bumped those up too. Furthermore, I found the cake soak to be too thick, so I reduced the amount of confectioners’ sugar. Also, I’m not really sure what qualifies this particular cake as a “doughnut” cake, other than the shower of cinnamon-sugar on top, which mostly absorbs into the cake after several hours. To give the exterior a little more visual pop, I whisked up an apple cider glaze that I drizzled over the cake, though next time I’d use whipping cream instead of milk to thicken it. With that, I hope you enjoy this Vanilla-Apple Cider Bundt Cake as part of your holiday festivities! As for me, I’m toasting to 10 years and looking forward to future recipe adventures, and definitely many more Bundts!

Vanilla-Apple Cider Bundt Cake

Adapted from The Bundt Collection (Bake from Scratch magazine)

Serves 12-16

For the cake:

  • 6¾ cups (1,620g) unsweetened apple cider (will be divided after reducing)
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3¼ cups (406 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup (120g) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 small tart apples (about 200g), peeled and chopped (I used Granny Smith)

For the apple soak:

  • ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced apple cider (from above)

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons reduced apple cider (from above)
  • 6 tablespoons (40g) confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste, to taste
  • ½ – 1 tablespoon whole milk or heavy cream, depending on desired thickness

Make the cake: In a large saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until cider is reduced to 1¾ cups, about 1½ hours, stirring frequently during last 30 minutes. Pour 1½ cups into a heatproof measuring cup with a pour spout; let cool completely. Reserve the remaining ¼ cup for the cake soak and glaze to be used later.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray with flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until creamy, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a small bowl, stir together reduced cider, milk, and vinegar. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with cider mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in apple. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 60-70 minutes (mine needed the upper limit both times I made it). Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, and let cool for 30 minutes.

Make the cake soak & cinnamon sugar: In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon reserved apple cider until smooth. Brush cake with mixture, working quickly to keep moist. In another small bowl, combine remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining ½ tablespoon cinnamon; sprinkle over cake.

Make the vanilla bean-apple cider glaze: Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the remaining reduced apple cider, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean paste in a medium bowl until a thick paste forms. Stir in the milk or cream until you’ve achieved your desired glaze thickness. (Cream will yield a thicker, whiter glaze.) If it’s too thick, thin it out with a few drops of the last tablespoon of cider.

Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or so, then pop it in the fridge after that. Mine was still delicious after 4 days, but don’t count on it lasting that long…

© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2022. 

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