A Better Bundt Cake

September 28, 2010

I had my doubts about this cake.  First of all, it is not chocolate so that fact puts it at an immediate disadvantage in my book.  Second, it is a bundt cake and sometimes I feel like all bundt cakes taste the same – no matter what is in them.  Third, it has molasses in it which made it smell kind of burned when it came out of the oven, and the glaze has a lot of butter in it which made it seem kind of greasy.  But I was truly surprised by how much I liked it.

Bundt cakes are nice because they feed a lot of people and they keep for at least a day or two wrapped well on the counter.  They also freeze well which makes me forgive the fact that many of them taste pretty darn bland.  So why is this one good?  Oh, I don’t know.  Lots of butter and sugar.  Lots of bourbon and vanilla.  And it turns out that molasses, while it doesn’t smell all that good – tastes pretty yummy.  I hate to admit it but the pecans, usually a deal-breaker for me in desserts, added a lot here.  A necessary crunch and a momentary distraction from the boozy flavor.

Now that I am officially in love with my ice cream maker, I almost always make an ice cream to accompany my dinner party desserts.  This time, I thought that the cake and glaze were quite sweet so some unsweetened whipped cream would be a better partner.  I was right.  Truthfully, I’m still on the fence about the glaze.  I loved it brushed over the cake, but serving it alongside the cake it was a little, well, buttery.  I’d make the same cake and tweak the glaze next time – more caramel-like perhaps.  But I’d keep the bourbon for sure.

(For those who are wondering about the cake plate – I got it from a local bakery years ago.  Sweet, isn’t it?  I have seen one in the Martha Stewart collection at Macy’s that looks similar.  The plates are my grandmother’s china.)

One Year Ago: Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon
Two Years Ago: Beet Salad with Candied Marcona Almonds

Pecan Molasses Bundt Cake with Bourbon Glaze
Bon Appétit
12 to 16 servings

I love that in typing out this recipe, I realize I did something wrong when I made the cake.  The recipe tells you to mix the pecan filling into half of the cake batter.  I just layered the pecan filling in between the two layers of batter so I got a more distinct, and powerful, dose of molasses and nuts.  It worked well, but I’ll give you the original instructions here.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3¼ cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup pecans
¼ cup dark corn syrup
¼ cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tsp. dark corn syrup
½ cup bourbon
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cake
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Spray 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan with non-stick spray; dust with flour.  Sift 3¼ cups flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.  Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and 2 teaspoons vanilla in large bowl until fluffy.  Beat in eggs 1 at a time.  Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions.  Transfer half of batter to prepared pan.

Stir pecans, corn syrup, molasses and 2 teaspoons vanilla in another medium bowl to blend.  Stir in baking soda.  Stir pecan mixture into remaining cake batter in bowl.  Spoon pecan batter over batter in pan (do not swirl).  Bake until tester inserted near center of cake come out with dry crumbs attached, about 45 minutes.  Transfer cake in pan to rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.  Stir 2 teaspoons water and baking soda in small bowl to dissolve baking soda.  Bring sugar, buttermilk, butter, and corn syrup to boil in a heavy 6-quart saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and melt butter.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Stir in baking soda mixture (glaze will bubble).  Boil until sauce is golden and slightly thickened, stirring often, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in bourbon and vanilla.

Invert warm cake onto platter.  Immediately brush 1½ cups hot glaze over cake, allowing glaze to soak into cake.  Cool cake completely.  (Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and let stand at room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate remaining glaze.)  Rewarm remaining glaze, stirring.  Serve cake with whipped cream and warm glaze.


  1. Dana, I just found your blog recently, and it’s really lovely. And this cake stand really caught my eye—it’s gorgeous! I’m totally wanting one of those…and yes, a slice of this cake too, please. :)

    Comment by Maddie — September 28, 2010 @ 10:49 am

  2. we’re also in love with our ice cream maker here (creating sweet potato gelato tonight!), though a welcome reprieve in the form of a pecan molasses bundt with bourbon glaze might be warranted. always loved the shape of bundts. happy to be the owner of a handed down pan!



    Comment by heather — September 28, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  3. Bundt cakes are my favorite, and this looks moist and perfect for fall!
    Love the cake stand (& yesterday’s silver serving spoon w/ the repousse!)

    Comment by staceysnacks — September 28, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  4. How cute! I am in love with your turquoise cake stand by the way. Looks delicious ;)

    Comment by Alexa @ Sohdalex — September 28, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

  5. That’s a real good looking cake, I think I might try that one. Do you think I could use raisins instead of nuts (not a huge fan of nuts, plus I have to feed people with allergies)?
    I actually wanted to ask you what ice cream maker you have? I’ve got a rather old one and it’s not working too well, because my ice cream doesn’t get frozen all the way in the machine, and when I then put it in the freezer it gets so hard that I have to cut it with a knife. Out of frustration (and because of broken knives :-P) I’m looking for a better machine, because I just love homemade ice cream. I’m asking people who already have a machine now, in the hope that they can give me some advice. Have you got any tips?

    Comment by Helena — September 28, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

  6. I’m typically always a fan of “keeping the bourbon, for sure”. It adds that extra depth of flavor that I think most bundt cakes need.

    isn’t it truly weird how almost all bundt cakes taste the same? I wonder why that is…

    Comment by Joanne — September 28, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  7. I thought I’d seen a similar Martha cake stand. It’s lovely! And, molasses, bourbon, vanilla, this is made for me. I love those flavors.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — September 28, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  8. I love jadite & your cake stand is way too cute! I do love bourbon and I love the sound of that cake. Thanksgiving will be here in 2 weeks so I’m going to try this cake for our big dinner. Looks delicious.

    Comment by kickpleat — September 28, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  9. I think I am with you on the Bundt cake thing– they always seem to sound better than they actually taste. I do make a lot of them though, for all the reasons you listed, and one that I love to make during the holiday season is the eggnogg one you posted on here eons ago. I use soy nog (!)and egg-replacer and it always turns out great. ;)
    PS- I meant to say congratulations on 400 posts! I adore your blog, and it is my first resource when looking for something new to make. xoxo

    Comment by brooke — September 28, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  10. I love the cake and I really love that cake stand. Gorgeous!

    Comment by Maria — September 29, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  11. Looks absolutely lovely! And all those quintessential Southern flavors in one cake…heavenly!! :-) Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Karen — September 29, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  12. The perfect reminder that I need to buy a bundt pan.

    Comment by Tracy — September 29, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

  13. You were right about us noticing your serving ware…I am in LOVE with the cake plate and especially your grandmother’s china! Lucky girl!

    Comment by Melinda — September 30, 2010 @ 12:44 am

  14. What time is afternoon coffee & cake?

    Love the cake plate!

    Comment by Chez Us — September 30, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  15. I freaking LOVE the cake plate. Is it milk glass?

    Comment by Hilary — October 1, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

  16. Dana! Your photos are so wonderful, getting even better and better. I still don’t have an ice cream maker, but I’m saving up credit card points!

    Comment by Andrea — October 2, 2010 @ 3:30 am

  17. I like the look of that cake! The flavors sound like something that I would love. :)

    Comment by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — October 7, 2010 @ 12:10 am

Leave a comment