I call this an old-fashioned cake because anything cooked in a bundt pan feels old-school and vintage to me, but I was surprised the read, recently, that the modern rendition of the bundt pan has only been around since the 1950’s. Of course, the traditional, tube-shaped cake, called Kugelhopf, that inspired its creation has been around for ages, originating in Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until the early 50’s that the design was brought to the US and the first bundt pan was cast by the founder of the Nordic Ware company in Minnesota.
By the mid-50’s (My very favourite decade not only for food, but for fashion, music, cars, 007 and the classic Martini!) bundt cakes, or tunnel cakes as they were often called, were all the rage, and every hostess-with-the-mostess had her own version of this dessert which she served at those swanky 50’s dinner parties. This was, after all, the era of the Jell-O mold, cheese balls and other equally circular foods.
Several years ago I was lucky enough to be given the recipe for an Apple Bundt Cake by a friend of my grandmother’s, named Sherron. I always feel very privileged when someone shares a time-honoured, family recipe with me because, in this day and age, when Google spits out nearly 5 million results for “Apple Cake Recipe,” any of which could be hit or miss, having one that’s tried and true and has stood the test of time just placed in my hands feels a little like finding a needle in the haystack or winning the lottery. This apple cake was one of Sherron’s favourite desserts to bake back in the day.
The apples in this recipe are macerated in sugar for an hour – a brilliant method of creating all the liquid needed to make the batter. The result is a deliciously moist cake with a pure yet delicate apple flavour. I’ve adapted the spices ever so slightly so that they don’t overpower the apples and to fit with my own personal tastes. I hope you’ll love this cake as much as Sherron did, and as much as I do today.
3 large apples
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Peel, core and chop the apples. You should have about 4 cups. Place in a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter a 10-inch bundt pan and dust with flour. Set aside.
Melt the butter and let cool. Whisk together the butter, eggs and vanilla. Pour this into the apples and stir well.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add to the apples and stir until evenly combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread evenly. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Let the cake cool for 20 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a serving platter. Dust the cake with powdered sugar just before serving.
*A note on baking: We live at an elevation of over 6000 feet (1830 m). This recipe works very well at high altitude, but I haven’t tested it at lower elevations.