I’ve generally eschewed eating or baking bundt cakes. My associations with bundt cakes were that they were generally dry and dull. Bundtapolooza was my experiment in making a moist and delicious bundt (that was not lemon!). Nothing against lemon. In fact, I love lemon! BUT, it seems like every time you see or hear of a bundt cake, it’s lemon. Why not something different? My other association with bundt cakes is Rum Cake, my grandmother made a killer Rum Cake and really was the only one I liked until I started playing around with bundt recipes. This was the genesis of Bundtapolooza which ended ups a a weekend wherein I made 6 different bundt cakes. One thing leads to another, you know.
I started with a basic bundt base recipe. Note: I think of bundt as distinguished not only by the shape of the pan, but also by the texture of the cake with a bundt cake being a variation of a pound cake. You can can find the base recipe here. I varied each recipe by not only flavoring, but also liquids, flour types, leavening and glaze type.
My opening salvo in the Bundtapolooza was a Blood Orange Bundt cake. For those of you less familiar with Blood Oranges, they are a deep red citrus fruit, generally available December though May. Of the better known citrus fruits, their flavor is most reminiscent of orange, but they have a unique aroma and taste all their own. Additionally, they have a beautiful pulp that varies from a light coral to a deep burgundy. I simmered the blood oranges and pureed them for the base cake as well as using the zest and the juice. I wanted layers of flavor and it worked out well. Also, I substituted almond meal for half of the flour for an extra moist yet firm crumb. While I covered the cake with a blood orange – white chocolate glaze after unmolding, this cake would be delicious naked or with a simple syrup blood orange glaze. You can can find the recipe here along with more details.
Next, I wanted to try a dulce de leche version of the bundt cake. Again, I began with the base recipe. From there, I substituted brown sugar and crock pot dulce de leche for the standard sugar and substituted 1/3 of the flour with almond meal. Because I anticipated that the crumb would be quite dense and rich, I doubled the amount of baking powder. The resulting cake had a less vigorous crumb than a standard bundt cake. Normally, after unmolding, I pour some of the simple syrup in the pan and put the cake back in to soak it up. This cake will not tolerate that amount of handling. I used a less elaborate bundt pan as I was not sure the cake would unmold well from one with lots of crevices and curves. The cake was absolutely decadent and I would recommend it unreservedly. The following modifications would likely make the cake more amenable to lots of handling or a more elaborate pan if needed: using only regular flour instead of partial almond flour, halving the brown sugar, reducing amount of buttermilk. Let me know if you try a variation and how it turned out! You can find the recipe for the Dulce de Leche Bundt here along with the recipe for crock pot dulce de leche.
I love the smell of lavender and have incorporated lavender into various recipes, mostly with success. I solicited ideas from friends when planning the Bundtapolooza and one friend suggested white chocolate to go along with my lavender sponge. It is a delightful pairing and made a beautiful cake. This cake was lighter in texture and flavor than some of the others and would make a lovely addition to a luncheon or Spring party. Fairly straight forward, I made no substitution in the sponge recipe other than the addition of crushed lavender. Unlike most of the other bundts, for this one I used both a glaze and an icing. I felt that the cake would be too dry without the simple syrup glaze and the icing incorporated the white chocolate. The lavender was subtle in the cake. One may wish to add a bit of lavender to either the syrup glaze or the icing but do judiciously; Lavender can overwhelm a dish if used heavy handedly. You can find the recipe for the Lavender w/ White Chocolate Bundt here.
A baking challenge is hardly complete without something chocolate, wouldn’t you agree? I love every kind of chocolate. My favorite childhood, comfort chocolate is malted chocolate. Challenge accepted! The variations in this bundt included the reduction in flour, substitution of almond flour for part, the reduction of buttermilk and addition of water, a reduction in number of eggs, substitution of brown sugar for part of sugar as well as overall reduction in sugar content, the addition of unsweetened chocolate and malted milk powder. The almond flour substitution was for crumb though I feel using only regular flour would be perfectly adequate. The addition of water was needed to allow the chocolate flavor to ‘bloom’ and called for a subsequent reduction in liquid, namely buttermilk. I considered using only baking power, but used baking soda as well to offset the slight acidity of the chocolate. In the picture, you will see that the icing broke a bit. The addition of the malted milk powder was flavorful, but beware of over-mixing – the icing will break more quickly due to over-mixing than a normal icing and without warning. Also, I used a straight tube pan as I anticipated a rich, dense sponge that might be less elastic than a normal bundt sponge. This proved to be the case, so I recommend a simple tube pan without crevices and no syrup soak. You can find the recipe for the Malted Chocolate Bundt here.
A family favorite of my children is anything gastronomically Elvis. For us, that means bananas, bacon and peanut butter. When my son found out I was doing this folly called Bundtapolooza, he insisted that I include an Elvis bundt. The recipe deviations for this one were the addition of bananas, walnuts and candied bacon to the sponge and the substitution of corn meal for 1/3 of the flour. Changes I would make when baking this in the future include the addition of a syrup soak and the use of pecans instead of walnuts… and maybe more bacon. A fun novelty bundt for the brave at heart. You can find the recipe for the Elvis Bundt cake here.
The last bundt cake I baked on that infamous weekend was a Key Lime Bundt. This was a pretty straight forward variant. Do NOT, however, boil the key limes as I did for the Blood Orange Bundt… they get viciously bitter. You’ll need to juice and zest them. Lots of work. I would consider using regular lime zest and store key lime juice. In general, I am a stickler for absolute scratch, but holy cow… it was a lot of work getting enough zest and juice out of those little guys. Either way, the only variation from the standard bundt recipe is the addition of the lime components. In mine I used half cake flour and half all purpose flour. It did have a lovely delicate crumb, so you may want to stick with that rather than 100% all-purpose flour. I have some variations for this in mind for next time I make it. I’ll keep you posted! You can find the recipe for the Key Lime Bundt here.