Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bundt Cakes

I have a new plaything—a lovely bundt cake form from Nordic Ware. It's an American company with a generous variety of such playful, heavy-duty cake pans that I understand the people who like to collect them!

My pan's crisp swirls are tempting me into the new repertoire of bundt cakes, and my colleagues are very grateful. I'm providing two cake recipes here, one for a vegan chocolate cake using a quickbread method, the other for lemon cake using the traditional cake method. Both cakes feature an unusual ingredient—beets in the chocolate cake, white pepper in the lemon cake.

Vegan cakes need something to provide the moisture and tender crumb that eggs contribute to ordinary cakes; fruit or vegetables can help bridge the gap, so I was not surprised to see recipes that involve applesauce or beets. Chocolate cake with beets is something I've known about for years and forms the basis of our family recipe for Black Forest Cake, so a vegan variant is a logical step.

The lemon cake recipe is even more interesting because it calls for 1-2 teaspoons of white pepper. This results in a sophisticated cake that leaves your tongue tingling long after the cake is gone. In fact, you barely even notice the pepper in the first bite or two, and then the tingle begins. I find it enchanting, as did my colleagues.

Lemon Ginger and Pepper Cake

I adapted this recipe from the one that came with the bundt cake form, but based on some internet research, it looks like the original recipe came from  Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts. Although the recipe list contains fresh ginger,  it's flavour is not noticeable. I presume it is there just to give some of that spicy tingle. I reduced the sugar by at least 1/4 cup.

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated (1-inch piece)
2 teaspoons finely-grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 cup sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 cup buttermilk
Lemon glaze:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (180°C).
  2. Grease the bundt pan with the margarine and dust with the breadcrumbs (I used paneermeel)., 
  3. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, grated ginger, and grated lemon zest and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and white pepper.
  5. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs, one-by-one, beating after every addition.
  7. On low speed, add the flour mixture on third at a time, alternating with half of the buttermilk, and ending with the flour, mixing well after each addition.
  8. Stir in the lemon-ginger mixture.
  9. Spoon into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 75 minutes,  or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  10. While the cake bakes, heat the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan until the sugar is dissolved. 
  11. Place a piece of waxed paper under a cooling rack.
  12. After the cake has cooled for 10 minutes, turn the cake out onto the cooling rack.
  13. Brush the cake with the lemon glaze until all of it is absorbed. 
Note: One of my colleagues found the cake too sweet and too lemony, probably because of this glaze. The rest of us loved it!

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Beets

I adapted this recipe from Epicurious, adding a quarter cup of cocoa powder and reducing the sugar.

1 tablespoon of vegetable or soy margarine
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1/2 cup neutral-tasting oil
1 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 cups puréed cooked (boiled or steamed) red beets (about 3 medium-size beets)
90 grams (nondairy) semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (look for aluminum-free)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Grease the bundt pan with the margarine and dust with the breadcrumbs (I used paneermeel).
  3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar and oil, then add the puréed beets, melted chocolate, and vanilla extract.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet beet mixture, and stir until just combined.
  7. Pour into the prepared bundt pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack. 

I find the shape of my bundt pan so pretty, I don't bother with a glaze, but a white chocolate glaze would also be very attractive. Or just dust with icing sugar when it is cool.

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