"Bund“ (German for „a gathering of people“) cakes originated in Europe hundreds of years ago with the "Gugelhupf“ (German) or "Kougelhopf“ (Alsace, France) baking pan, when a baker discovered that if a metal tube was placed in the centre of the pan, the cake cooked more evenly and rose higher than usual. The technique was widely copied and probably taken to America by European immigrants. It was D. Dalquist of Nordic Ware in Minneapolis who created the first aluminium „bundt“ pan in 1950 and added the letter “t“ to the end of „bund“. "Bundt" is now a registered trademark of the company which to this day produces many different kinds of "Bundt" baking pans. But no matter whether you call this lovely cake a „Gugelhupf“, "Kougelhopf" or „Bundt Cake“, whether you use a more traditional baking pan or a modern fancy one, this humble Autumnal Spice Bundt Cake will undoubtedly steal your heart.
Pumpkins and squash might hog the limelight in the month October, but do not forget other seasonal fare. Celebrate the late fall season with lovely warm spices, natural ground almonds, and sugar beet syrup.
This Bundt is baked with my favorite locally produced syrup for extra flavor and moistness. The damp crumb and slightly caramelized crust of this cake will most certainly win your taste buds over. The sugar beet syrup syrup is one of those foods that never goes off – in that regard, it is beyond seasonality and can be stored for long periods without ill effect. Making it a perfect baking ingredient. Around Christmas time, I bake a lot of cookies and cakes using this syrup, it has become an essential flavoring ingredient for all my gingerbread batters, for example.
The syrup has the most wonderful flavor and a rich, dark color. In Germany, particularly the Rhineland area where we live, this syrup (called „Zuckerrüben-Sirup“), a cooked and concentrated sugar beet syrup, is often used as a spread for sandwiches instead of butter, as well as for sweetening sauces, cakes and desserts, or as a topping for freshly baked waffles. The syrup itself is very molasses-y in texture, smooth and thick and very sweet. You will typically see this in yellow containers in the honey section of the grocery store, produced by a company called „Grafschafter" (for more details on this company, please go here).
We went to visit the company during harvest time, better watch out while visiting there - the local farmers are quite busy these days delivering their sugar beets to the company for processing.
If you cannot get this syrup in your area, you can always substitute molasses. Molasses is a sticky and thick by-product of sugar cane or sugar beet processing. Its taste and texture resembles that of honey. Aside from sugar cane and beets, it can also be made from grapes, dates, pomegranates, mulberries, and carob. It is made by extracting the juice of the sugar cane through crushing or mashing. The juice is then boiled to make a concentrate and to crystallize the sugar.
I have tried this recipe using molasses (called "Zuckerrohr-Melasse") as well as sugar beet syrup. They work equally well and the finished cakes varied only slightly in flavor, the sugar beet syrup taste is a bit less prominent than the molasses in the finished cake.
Ingredients for the Bundt Cake:
- 280 grams (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 180 grams (1 cup) packed light brown sugar (I used "Muscovado" sugar, an unrefined brown sugar)
- 200 grams (1 cup) fine baking (caster) sugar
- 75 grams (3/4 cup) powdered sugar plus some for dusting the baked cake
- 4 tbsp molasses (I used my favorite local sugar beet syrup called „Grafschafter“)*
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 eggs (L), free range or organic
- 5 egg yolks (L), free range or organic
- 350 grams (2 1/3 cups) AP (plain) wheat flour
- 125 grams (1 1/4 cups) natural almonds**
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 2 tsps fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (organic, please)
- 1 cup milk, room temperature (I used 3.5%)
- *NOTE: Sugar Beet Syrup is the pure, natural juice of freshly harvested cooked sugar beet carefully concentrated under vacuum - without added ingredients and without chemical treatment. Much like molasses, it can also be used as a sandwich spread, for sweetening sauces, desserts and as a baking ingredient.
- ** NOTE: Cakes with ground almonds keep well, usually 3 - 5 days. They tend to become more moist over time and are at their best 1 - 2 days after making.
Special equipment needed
- A 26 cm (10") diameter nonstick Gugelhupf (Bundt) pan
Preparation of the Bundt
- Arrange a rack in middle of your oven and preheat to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degress Fahrenheit).
- Thoroughly brush your bundt pan with melted butter, then flour and tap out the excess flour. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugars and molasses, frequently scraping down sides and bottom of bowl and beaters, until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
- Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Cream some more. NOTE: Keep the bean for making homemade vanilla sugar.
- Pulse flour and almonds in a food processor until almonds are finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in baking powder and next seven ingredients. Set aside.
- Mix in lemon zest. Add eggs and yolks one at a time, beating to blend between additions; beat mixture until fluffy, about three minutes.
- Reduce speed to low. Add half of dry ingredients; mix until almost blended. Add milk and mix until almost blended. Add remaining dry ingredients; mix until batter is blended and smooth. Scrape into prepared pan. Tap pan gently on counter to even out.
- Bake until a tester inserted near the center of cake comes out clean and cake is dark golden brown and has begun pulling from sides of pan, 65-70 minutes.
- Transfer pan to a wire rack. Let cake cool in pan for 25 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and let cool completely, about one hour.
- Dust cake lightly with powdered sugar just before serving.
This Autumnal Spice Bundt Cake with Sugar Beet Syrup is anything but boring. It is quite perfect with that cup of tea or coffee as an afternoon treat or even for a decadent breakfast slice.This humble cake with its divine smell, beautiful damp crumb and slightly caramelized crust really caught my heart.
Enjoy baking an autumnal cake with warm spices, ground almonds and sugar beet syrup (or molasses) - baking at this time of year can be very versatile, fun and delicious - love those warm colors and flavors!
For more information about:
- the different kinds of Nordic Ware bundt baking pans, go here.
- a selection of German Gugelhupf baking pans, go here.
- the sugar beet syrup and the comapny that produces it, go here.
- the German spice merchant that will arrange delivery of all these lovely spices to your doorstep, go here.