A Bundt pan, at least one, is definitely a must have for any novice or experienced home baker. This distinct pan allows for dense cakes to be baked with an even rise and not undercooked. There are many varieties of pan shapes, but many know the traditional Bundt pan design, and the number of recipes for Bundts is ever growing. This vegan recipe uses standard baking ingredients so anyone can make it, and it has a perfect and iconic gingerbread flavor. Make it and let me know your thoughts!
The Bundt cake is a rather recent addition to the baking scene but yet most homebakers have at least one pan and Bundt bakeries are popping up all over the United States. If you’re like me, you have enough different pans that you hang in your kitchen for decoration. I love Bundt pans. The cake itself is inspired by Eastern European cakes like kugelhopf, but the pan, where we now get the name of the cake, didn’t show up until the 1950s. The owner of Minnesota based Nordic Ware, H. David Dalquist, invented the signature pan on commission for the Minneapolis-based Hadassah Society who wanted to make the traditional kugelhopf, a dense cake baked in a ring pan. The pan gained notoriety in 1966 when the “tunnel of fudge” recipe, using the Bundt pan, won the Pillsbury bake-off competition. Now you can find some variety of the Bundt pan at any store that sells baking supplies. For more information read this article by Food and Wine.
So what separates a Bundt cake from a standard layer or sheet cake? Density. When you mix a Bundt cake batter you’ll notice that it’s very thick. The ring shape pan allows the cake to bake fully without having an unbaked center and overbaked sides. The shape of the pan allows airflow through the center and an even cooking time. Bundt cakes, since the batter is so thick, typically bake for up to an hour. Whereas a standard layer/sheet cake will bake for around 20 minutes. Bundt cakes are also unique in terms of flavor combinations. Most layer/sheet cakes are fairly standard vanilla or chocolate with some kind of flavored frosting or ganache. Bundt cakes are all over the place and some even have a baked in filling or separate layer like a snickerdoodle cake with a cinnamon cream cheese center.
Bundt cakes are the perfect cake for trying to impress guests when you’re not good at baking or don’t have time to decorate a cake. The pan does all the work for you! Take this pinwheel pan I used for example. The cake itself looks stunning, and all I did was dump batter into a pan. Bundt pans also make a great gift idea for the baker in your life and Nordic Ware (whom I have no affiliation with) is always coming out with more designs or limited release pans. You can check out their line of cast pans using this link or explore their site for a wide variety of other options. A pan will last you a lifetime, because unless you’d drop it off a building or into a forge, you can’t mess up the pan.
When making this recipe for my Gingerbread Bundt pan I wanted to create an east vegan recipe that doesn’t include a lot of specialty ingredients or things that might scare a non-vegan. For the egg replacement I used unsweetened applesauce and the butter and milk are vegan products that can be purchased pretty much at every grocery store. Could you use standard dairy and butter? You can, but, the recipe was designed to be vegan and I can’t vouch for what it would taste or look like with animal based products. So, be vegan for a dessert!
The question I know that will come up is, can this be gluten free? Yes. It does work as a gluten free cake if you use a 1:1 baking flour blend like Bob’s Red Mill that uses xanthan gum in the blend. You can create your own GF baking blend but it’s easy now to find a variety of GF flour blends that are suited to baking cakes.
Before I get into the recipe there are a few things that you must know before jumping into baking. The first, and often skipped step, is that your dry ingredients should be sifted together and not just mixed. Sifting the ingredients does two key things. First, it evenly distributes your leavener (baking powder/soda), and it aerates your dry ingredients so that the flour isn’t so packed down. Sifting helps to create an even rise and better texture. You could use a flour sifter, or, if you’re like me and don’t want to mess with that, use a fine mesh strainer. Sifting also helps you break up any clumps that might be in your spices. No one wants to bite into their cake only to be met with a big chunk of cinnamon or baking powder. I double sift in order to break up any pieces I catch the first time and then sift again to ensure both even distribution and pieces that might have been missed. My cakes turn out great every time thanks to this step.
The second important part of making a Bundt cake, or really any cake, is to grease the pan and lightly dust with flour. A Bundt pan has a lot of little nooks and crannies and part of the point of a Bundt pan is the details of the pan itself. You don’t want your cake to get stuck in the pan or rip when trying to take it out. I spray oil into my pan, not so much that it pools, and then lightly dust a little flour or sugar into the pan using my fine mesh strainer. The flour helps the cake rise evenly because the batter has something to cling to as it rises.
The last piece of advice before baking a Bundt cake, is to trust the recipe. If you’ve made standard layer/sheet cakes in the past you are comfortable with a pourable batter. It’s pretty much just a thick liquid. A Bundt cake batter is scoopable and very thick. That’s how it should be. The cake is made to be dense, so don’t fret and then water down your batter, because it won’t rise properly or it’ll fall after baking. If my pan has a lot of detail in its casting I’ll also tap the pan with the batter in it on the counter a few times to make sure batter has gotten into all the parts of the pan. You don’t want a rogue air bubble messing up your fleur-de-lis.
I encourage you to stick to the recipe and not deviate from ingredients or process. A cake, any cake, is very much a science in terms of quantity of ingredients and order of addition. If you substitute an ingredient or mix things in the wrong order your cake won’t turn out as intended. All baked goods are like this. Think of baking as a science experiment and if you don’t follow the directions correctly you’ll have a disaster on your hands.
Gingerbread Bundt Cake
- 10-12 cup Bundt pan
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (or GF baking blend)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground all spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional but helps bring out the ginger)
- 1 cup non-dairy milk (I use Silk's oat milk)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup butter, melted (I use Earth Balance vegan butter)
- 1/2 cup molasses (not black strap)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 3-4 tablespoons non-dairy milk (add more or less depending on desired consistency)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and position a rack to the middle. Liberally spray oil into the 10-12 cup Bundt pan and lightly dust flour, using a flour sifter or fine mesh strainer, to lightly coat the inside of the pan. Place pan on baking sheet and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir a couple of times to mix the ingredients. Using a flour sifter or fine mesh strainer, sift the dry mix into a separate bowl, could be the one you use for wet ingredients next. Then transfer back to the original bowl through a second sifting. The reason for this is explained in the blog post.
- Measure the milk and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Allow to sit while you melt the butter and combine the other wet ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl combine the apple sauce, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Stir in the milk mix and melted butter. Mix well until ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. The best method is to fold the dry ingredients into the wet using a large balloon whisk until there are no visible clumps. Using a stand mixer or hand held electric mixer often overmixes cake batter and leads to a tough or overly dense cake.
- Pour the batter into your prepared Bundt cake pan. Tap the pan a couple of times on the counter to remove any trapped air bubbles. Place the pan, on the baking sheet, into your oven on the center rack. Bake for 45-50 minutes. An inserted cake tester or toothpick should come out clean. Allow cake to rest in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. See notes below.
- Allow cake to fully cool, typically an hour or two, on a wire rack before pouring on the glaze. If the cake is too warm the glaze will soak into the cake and make it overly moist. To make the glaze simply mix the ingredients together until smooth.
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