Ever since I got this bundt pan, I’ve been bundt mad. Just add it to my list of diagnoses; at least the cure is an easy one – MORE BUNDTS.
Granted, yes, this is only the second bundt cake I’ve made since buying the pan, but it’s not like I can come home and bake a cake every night of the week. If I could, I probably wouldn’t need any of these psychiatric drugs. Then I would write a book about my experience, which would be optioned for a feature film where I’m played by Meryl Streep and Brian by Stanley Tucci – I don’t mind being seen as an older woman if it’s Meryl – and then I would spend my days baking bundts and my nights sleeping on giant piles of dollar bills.
Tonight is a home-alone night, which means cereal for dinner and baked goods in the oven. In this case, a brown sugar-apple bundt cake from Cook’s Illustrated. I like to make the most of my alone time. Later, I might fold some laundry. No no, DON’T TRY AND STOP ME.
Truth be told, there’s nothing inherently exciting about this cake other than the fact that you get to eat cake at the end of the process, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want more cake in their lives. Well, except maybe Brian. But Brian also loves halvah, which I’m pretty sure is just an extruded block of sesame-flavored talc, so I don’t know that I trust his judgement in matters cake-related.
The batter is a pretty simple affair, although the method isn’t entirely traditional: the butter, sugar and flour are mixed together pie-crust style, until there are little pea-sized lumps of butter and the flour resembles “coarse meal,” something I never entirely understand although it’s certainly not as cryptic as macaron recipes that insist the batter must “flow like magma.” The wet ingredients – in this case eggs, heavy cream and vanilla – are then beaten in in 2 additions.
I will not lie, I was perusing cake recipes for tonight and the presence of heavy cream in this one definitely caused some sway-age on my part.
You know, if you take away the hyphen, “swayage,” looks almost like it could be a French word for something. Sway-AHJ. Make up a definition in the comments, and we’ll pick the best one and just start using it. We’ll make it a thing. It will annoy the French.
The apples are two unseasonable Granny Smiths, diced and tossed with brown sugar. I think you will agree with me that among apples, when they are in season, a really good Granny Smith is Queen of Apples. Better than a Honeycrisp. Than a JONAGOLD, even. It’s a bold statement, but I’m sticking by it.
Can I digress for a minute? Of course I can. Do you know what I’m doing as I type? I’m SINGING ALONG TO MUSIC. Do you know when the last time that happened was? A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, in a galaxy far, far away. Do you know what that means? Either the changes to my drug regimen are working and I am experiencing ACTUAL JOY, or bundt pans really do have magical healing properties. I’m willing to entertain either possibility, since they coincide somewhat in the timeline. I may buy more bundt pans in different shapes and sizes, just to hedge my bets.
Joy. Wonders never cease.
You should be very proud of the fact that I didn’t take the easy way out and just spray the damn pan with Pam, because all the little ridges make it a pain in my fucking ass to butter. But the directions said butter, so butter I did. I coated the butter with sugar – that’s another thing life should have more of, sugar-coated butter – sprinkled some brown sugar in the bottom of the pan and distributed the sugared apples.
Hold on for a sec, I’m experiencing this strange “joy” again.
Watch, now that I’ve told you I totally jinxed the whole thing. Know that if I relapse it was ALL YOUR FAULT.*
*“Don’t you put that on me, Ricky Bobby! Don’t you put that evil on me!”
I spread the batter over the apples and popped the pan into the oven.
One of the things I love/that cracks my shit up about Cook’s Illustrated is how earnestly they want you to succeed, so much so that they include step-by-step illustrations of how, exactly, to spread the apples evenly in the pan (picture of pan with apples and instruction “spread apples evenly”) and how to distribute the batter over the apples by dolloping it in by quandrant. Any time the word “quandrant” can be worked into a recipe, that is a good day. However, I have a challenge for the good people of America’s Test Kitchen: rhombus.
There. Consider the gauntlet thrown, Christopher Kimball. Now adjust your twee bow tie and get to it.
Despite my careful quadrant dolloping, my cake did not come out nearly as attractive as the picture in the magazine. But I do not consider this a failure, because hell, it’s still cake. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on that shit and call it a night, that’s what I say.
I cut a piece out while it was still technically too hot to be sliced, but like I mentioned, I am having a kicky and carefree alone night, so who’s going to stop me, you? I could totally take you.
This cake has a perfect crumb. Perfect. I almost couldn’t believe I had produced such a cake. It’s not appropriate for a layer cake, but for a bundt- perfect. Compact without being dense, fluffy without being too airy; those anal as hell America’s Test Kitchen get their shit down pat. Pat, I say. Aesthetics aside, this cake is a definite winner and is going to be awesome for breakfast tomorrow.
Unfortunately for you it’s not from the current edition of the magazine, so I suggest you spend 20 quality dollars and subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated online so you can get the recipe along with access to everything they’ve ever written ever. Seriously, you won’t be sorry.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go experience all the joy I can before the run ends.