Something Other Than Pumpkin Pie

November 24, 2009


I have so many memories of Thanksgiving dinners as a child.  I loved the gathering of friends and family, I loved polishing the silver with my mom, and I loved getting to stay up past my bedtime and put on plays with my brothers and friends.  What I didn’t love was the food.  I never liked turkey and I was totally grossed out by gravy.  Stuffing and mashed potatoes are all well and good but they really need gravy.  (I have since remedied this problem by making vegetarian gravy each year.)  So my dinner consisted of dry starchy things that I would choke down.  And, at the end of that meal, my dessert choices were always pumpkin pie or pecan pie.  Neither of which I liked.


My mom’s friend Marilyn is an expert pumpkin pie maker.  But if you don’t like it you don’t like it, and I still don’t.  Once I had a bit of baking experience under my belt, I started bringing an “other” dessert to our family gathering.  What I really wanted to bring was chocolate but even I knew that something that rich would not be good after a huge feast.  I usually settled on something apple and over the years I made pies, tarts, and cakes.  To this day, when we now host the dinner in our home, I delegate lots of dishes to others.  This year I have passed off the stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and an appetizer.  That may sound like I outsourced the entire meal but I am still making bread, cheeseballs, green beans, a potato/horseradish gratin, vegetarian gravy, sauerkraut with apples, and two desserts.  Oh yes!  And a 23 pound turkey and “regular” gravy.  I really wouldn’t think of letting someone else make the “other” desserts.  I gotta make sure I get my apple.

A word about bundt cakes.  As cakes go, they tend to be easy but I have a deep-rooted fear of them.  I have had so many decide that they would rather stay in the pan than be eaten by me and my family.  I recently replaced my old and no-longer-non-stick pan which does help.  So if yours is old and shows any sign of rust, time to get a new one.  I also highly recommend you use Crisco and flour to grease it and don’t forget to get the middle part greased up well.  A little offering to the kitchen goddess before you turn it out doesn’t hurt either.


One Year Ago:  Broccoli Rabe, Radicchio, and Carrot Salad and Spinach and Lemon Stuffed Mushrooms

Cider-Caramelized Apple Pound Cake
Adapted from Food and Wine
Serves 12

2 cups clear apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
3 cups granulated sugar
3 sticks plus 2 tbsp. (13 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground mace (DT: I didn’t have mace so I just added a little extra nutmeg)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

1.  Make the cake: In a large saucepan, boil the apple cider over high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the granulated sugar and cook over moderately high heat until a dark amber caramel forms, about 4 minutes.  Off the heat swirl in 2 tablespoons of the butter until melted.  Add the apples and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are softened and have absorbed a lot of the syrup, about 8 minutes.  Pour the apples into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the lower third.  Grease a 12-cup bundt pan.  Sift the cake flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, salt, and baking soda into a bowl.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 3 sticks of butter until creamy.  Add the remaining 2 cups of granulated sugar and the vanilla and beat at medium-high heat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions.  Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream; beat just until combined.  Stir 1/2 cup of the batter into the apples, then stir the apple mixture into the remaining batter.

3.  Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top is golden and cracked and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes, then turn it out onto the rack to cool completely.

4.  Make the glaze: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the brown sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thick and smooth.  Gradually stir in the heavy cream and bring to a boil.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and bubbling, 3 minutes.   Let cool completely.  Sift the confectioners’ sugar directly into the pot and add the vanilla.

5.  Lay a piece of wax paper under the rack.  Drizzle glaze all over it.  Sprinkle with pecans.

(The cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature overnight or refrigerated for up to 1 week.)


  1. 3 sticks? you go girl!
    I love the glaze on this cake!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend.

    Comment by Stacey Snacks — November 24, 2009 @ 11:28 pm

  2. wow, dana! thats a gorgeous cake!

    Comment by Veggie Belly — November 25, 2009 @ 12:19 am

  3. Um, please tell my family I’m sorry, but I had to fly to your house at the last minute for Thanksgiving. OMG this looks good! Bookmarking this for my housewarming/holiday party!

    Comment by maris — November 25, 2009 @ 3:15 am

  4. That cake looks absolutely amazing! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Comment by yael — November 25, 2009 @ 5:20 am

  5. Me encanta, la combinación es perfecta, la manzana me encanta y el aspecto que tiene es maravilloso.


    Comment by Trotamundos — November 25, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  6. I would choose this over pie any day! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    Comment by Maria — November 25, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  7. I too am not a pumpkin pie fan , not too sure how people eat it in the first place !! However something like this is to die for !

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Comment by Dimitra Alexakos — November 25, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

  8. nummmy nummy!!!! Happy Thanksgiving, Dana!

    Comment by Jess — November 25, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

  9. Anything with glaze has my name all over it. And I just love the name of this one! Happy Thanksgiving, Dana- I hope your feast goes well!

    Comment by fresh365 — November 25, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

  10. Dana, this looks like the best glaze I’ve ever seen! I cannot wait to try this on an appropriate cake.

    Comment by Hilary — November 25, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  11. This looks delicious!

    Comment by midori — November 25, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

  12. Dana, this cake looks incredible! Amazing photos. Who wouldn’t want a huge slice of this cake??

    Comment by kickpleat — November 26, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

  13. The glaze and pecans look delicious! My only problem with Thanksgiving desserts is that I always want one of each.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — November 30, 2009 @ 11:01 pm

  14. This cake looks and sounds amazing!! I absolutely must make it. I love the apples are caramelized. I’m always scared my bundt will cling like crazy to the pan, but thankfully I’ve only had one experience like that. Letting it cool in the pan (as you did in this recipe) really helps!

    Comment by Ashley — December 8, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  15. Oh and I meant to ask if you’d be so kind to share your vegetarian gravy recipe. =) I’ve only made vegetarian gravy once before and it was really good. I’d love to try out yours!

    Comment by Ashley — December 8, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  16. This cake DOES look beautiful – but I made it and have a few things I struggled with in regards to the recipe… and the finished product.
    1. It did not take 15 minutes for me to reduce 2 cups of cider to 1/2 cup. It took about 1 hour.
    2. Apples do not absorb liquid, they actually give OFF liquid when cooked. So, I ended up with softened apples with a LOT of liquid. I was afraid to add it all to the cake, because it would be too runny and fall. I added some flour until I thought the consistency was going to be right.
    3. The glaze (while delicious – my friend calls this kind of glaze crack cocaine, it’s that addictive – I wouldn’t know :) required a lot more powered sugar so it wasn’t just a liquid that seeped directly into the cake. Again, yummy – but not quite as I imagined.
    Finally, I’d say the cake taste, for all the work that it took to make it was, in the words of Dana, “Underwhelming.” I’ll make the brown sugar glazed pound cake any day over this one.

    Comment by Rachel — December 12, 2012 @ 12:01 am

  17. Huh Rachel. I am sorry to hear that the recipe gave you some grief. It has been a long time since I last made that cake, so I don’t remember if I had any of the same problems. Maybe some of the those reasons are why I haven’t made it again. :) Brown sugar glazed pound cake – all the way. It’s on my holiday baking list this year!

    Comment by dana — December 12, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

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