Bramleys and Bourbon in a Bundt
This post written by our Resident Farm Foodie – Debra Dubief
When it comes to heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables the varieties seem endless. Thankfully, there are enthusiastic farmers out there who are dedicated to preserving these gems. When I first spoke to Edith Walden at Willowrose Orchards about her Bramley apples, I had to admit that I wasn’t familiar with them. But I soon learned they are a delicious old English variety, long revered as being superb for cooking and baking. Of course, I wanted to try them immediately and ordered up several hundred pounds so any of our Full Circle members, who so desired, could join me.
These apples are tart and tangy – which is great for baking, turning into chutney or just whipping up a simple batch of fresh applesauce, just because. And then there’s the bourbon. You were waiting for me to get to that, right? While I almost never drink bourbon, I’m all over recipes that include it – especially in desserts.
Its sweet, smoky flavor with gentle vanilla notes and a touch of toasty spice make it a natural companion to things like nuts, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate. So when I stumbled upon a recipe for a spicy apple bundt cake made with toasted pecans and a generous amount of bourbon, the fate of those fat Bramleys’ waiting on my counter was sealed. They were indeed wonderful in my cake, and basking in a bath of bourbon (the apples, that is) were a perfect finale to an early holiday dinner with friends.
If you aren’t able to get Bramley apples, any tart baking apple (such as Granny Smith) would also work. This cake lasts for days and would freeze beautifully if for some reason you didn’t want have it lingering around. The booziness tends to dissipate over time which may or may not prompt you to eat it as quickly as possible; and this time of year might be just the thing with your morning coffee.
If you don’t have a bundt pan, just use two 9-inch loaf pans instead. The baking time will be shorter, so start checking at 45 minutes.
- 2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
- 1 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 good sized Bramley apples (about a 1 ½ pounds), peeled, cored and quartered
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to dust the pan
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 3 Tbsp plus 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 C sour cream (light works just fine, as would plain yogurt)
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 C finely chopped, toasted pecans
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 325ºF.
- Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar and 2 of the 2 1/4 sticks butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. While butter and sugar are mixing, put approximately 2/3 of the apple pieces in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Chop the remaining apple pieces into ½ inch dice and set the apples aside. Once butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla and 3 tablespoons bourbon.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the dry mixture and sour cream mixture to the wet mixture approximately 1/3 at a time, alternating between the two. Fold in apples and pecans. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out dry, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Set cake, in its pan, on a rack to cool. While the cake cools, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup bourbon and remaining ¼ stick butter in small saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and liquid is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
- With a paring knife, make 12 slits in the bottom of the cake going about ¾ of the way down. Pour ¾ of the bourbon mixture on the bottom of the still-warm cake. Cool in the pan 20 minutes longer, then run a paring knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake. Invert cake onto a wire rack and brush remaining bourbon mixture onto top and sides with a pastry brush. Allow cake to cool completely before cutting. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if desired.