My loaf pan has gotten a mighty workout amid the pandemic baking frenzy. But not so much the Bundt pan, which had been languishing in a high cabinet, waiting for an occasion grand enough to warrant its ornateness.
But as fancy as Bundt cakes look, making them isn’t any harder than throwing together your average loaf cake. In fact, most are just scaled-up loaf cakes: easy to bake, hard to stop eating once you do.
The charm of a Bundt cake lies in its fanciness, which, if your family has become as complacent on the homemade baked goods front as mine, might be just the thing to jolt them out of their doldrums.
I tried this recently with a blueberry Bundt cake, adding the berries both to the sour cream-enriched batter, and to the glaze, which turned appealingly purple.
To make enough for 10 to 12 servings, you’ll need a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan. (If it’s loaf pan or bust, use two 9-by-5-inch pans. You can freeze or give away the second cake.) Brush the pan well with melted butter, taking care to reach every crevice. Then sprinkle it with granulated sugar, gently shaking and rotating the pan, so the sugar gets into all the nooks. The sugar helps the batter brown and form a sweet, brittle exterior that helps with unmolding. Tap any excess sugar into the sink.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: 3 ½ cups/450 grams all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt and ½ teaspoon baking soda.
Using an electric mixer (either hand-held or a stand mixer), cream 1 cup/225 grams room-temperature unsalted butter (2 sticks) with 1 ½ cups/300 grams granulated sugar, letting the mixer go until the butter is light and fluffy. The softer the butter is to start with, the more quickly this will go.
Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, letting the first one disappear into the batter before adding the next. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or a tablespoon bourbon or brandy, or ½ teaspoon almond extract. Or go crazy and add all three. I also mixed in a teaspoon of grated nutmeg, but a teaspoon grated lemon zest would also be lovely with the blueberries.
Now pour in half of the flour mixture, beating briefly to incorporate it, then mix in ½ cup/120 milliliters sour cream. Add the remaining flour, then ½ cup/120 milliliters milk. You have other dairy options here instead of sour cream plus milk. A cup of buttermilk or plain yogurt, or 1 cup of whole milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice will also work. (Add it to the batter ½ cup at a time as you would the sour cream and milk.)
Once the batter is nice and smooth, switch to a spatula and fold in 2 cups blueberries, either fresh or frozen (no need to thaw). Scrape the batter into the buttered, sugared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs clinging to it. If you see any wet batter, keep baking, tenting the top of the cake with foil if it gets too brown.
When it’s done, transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then unmold the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely.
In the meantime, make the glaze: In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup blueberries with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, letting the mixture bubble away for about 5 minutes, until the berries burst.
Use a fork or potato masher to smush the berries into jam. Stir in 2 cups/245 grams unsifted confectioners’ sugar, adding a little more if needed to make a thick but pourable glaze. If it seems too thick, stir in a few drops of lemon juice or milk. Pour glaze over the cake. Note: I did not strain this glaze, and it looked smooth enough to me. Perfectionists can strain at will. In either case, let the glaze set for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Then serve the berry-speckled slices on your prettiest dessert plates. Because even easy Bundt cakes deserve the best.