Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dorie Greenspan's Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

Oh my. Where has the last week gone?

It's been a bit of a roller coaster,  with unusual highs and lows, as well as all the normal bits of fun and dullness. There's been work, of course, a lovely evening of wine and pizza with good friends, stupid errands, vet and dentist appointments, Halloween, the election (sob!), and what was that other thing...

Oh yes, the World Series.

Now, as you know, I'm not a sports fan. But it's kind of a big deal when your hometown team makes it to the World Series--and then wins! Go Giants!

So the last week has been a bit of a blur--an orange and black blur, to be precise.

Yesterday I had a little time to catch my breath and in spite of the wacky warm weather we're enjoying (75 degrees in November?) I decided to bake a cake.

The recipe is originally from Dorie Greenspan, who I understand is beloved by all who bake. I have never made a Dorie Greenspan recipe, but her brown sugar cake had a number of things to recommend it: buttermilk, which makes everything wonderfully moist; brown sugar, of course (a whopping two cups!); and pears, of which I had a few languishing in the fruit basket. And the clincher: the recipe called for using my bundt pan, which I'm crazy about.

I did skip the prunes: why ruin a perfectly nice cake?

The cake was fragrant, delicious--and surprisingly not sugary. I had diced the pears very small so they practically melted into the batter. The cake would be fabulous with a simple icing or frosting (what wouldn't?) but I left it unadorned. So far, I have eaten it for dessert, breakfast, and an afternoon snack. It suited each of these occasions, and improved overnight. It traveled neatly with the husband to work, and its mild sweetness helped sooth my raw election wounds. What more could you ask for in a humble dessert? The country may be crumbling, but I've got cake.

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts or walnuts (or 1/4 cup more all purpose flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
225 g / 8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract (only if you're using the ground nuts)
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and diced (or substitute apple)
1/2 cup prunes, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (or substitute 1/2 cup raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9- to 10-inch Bundt pan.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, nuts (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the almond extract (if using). Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately - add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated and scrape down the bowl as needed. Turn off the mixer, and with a rubber spatula, stir in the pears and prunes. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake in the center of the oven for 60 to 65 minutes (mine was done in 53--check the cake early!), or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. If at any point the cake is browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a piece of foil. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack. Finish the top of the cake with icing sugar or a simple brown sugar glaze.


  1. That looks so lovely and moist. A perfect cake for autumn, too. Yum!

  2. I'm usually more of a pie/cookie/ice cream person but lately I'm in a total cake mode and this one looks SO good! - Pete

  3. MMmmmm, sounds yummy. And since it is like 50 here, baking this would not only warm my tummy but my kitchen as well :)

  4. Cake heals (almost) all wounds. Sorry bout the election results, but like you said, at least you got cake. I need a bundt pan that cake doesn't stick too, had a recent bundt disaster, will post about it soon :)

  5. Pears and brown sugar are two of my favorite things! Now I really can't decide what to bake for football this weekend!

  6. CJ: Definitely a good fall recipe.

    Pete: well, I like cookies/pies/ice creams too, unfortunately.

    tamilyn: it would be perfect for your weather!

    shaz: I have had that happen with my bundt pan once in awhile...sometimes it doesn't matter how well you grease and flour it!

    camille: give it a go, and try a glaze with it! Happy football :)

  7. I'm smiling. I would have skipped the prunes too. Don't think I'd like them in this cake. Brown sugar? Absolutely! Pears? Yes!

  8. Barbara: The prunes may do something wonderful and mysterious to improve the cake but I couldn't bring myself to buy or use them!

  9. I'm from Dallas. Good Series. Congratulations (jokingly recalcitrant).

    The bundt cake looks fantastic; I am a big Greenspan fan, and this looks properly done!

  10. World Series? Let them eat (bundt) cake! Can put a celebratory baseball in the center. The recipe looks heavenly sweet and simple, highlighting the wonderful richness of brown sugar. And I don't know why, but I always love the bundt cake shape. I like the curved, compact shape of the slice as you om-nom it with a cup of coffee!

  11. Rich: I too am a Greenspan fan now! Thanks for coming by!

    denise: yep, I'm a bundt lover. Yep, I know that sounds weird!

  12. i completely missed baseball season this year--woe is me. on a much brighter note, this cake rocks.

  13. grace: well, there will be baseball next year. Thanks about the cake!

  14. Hello,
    Mistake? on 2nd line of ingredients. In parentheses. Is that referring to the flour?

    Cake photograph inspires me to try this when I have all of the ingredients.