High Altitude Baking: One-bowl fall bundt cake (recipe)

This one-bowl fall bundt cake is crowd-pleasing with all the iconic flavors of the season: pumpkin, apples, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Courtesy Vera Dawson |

Editor’s note: High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

Cut out this recipe and you’ve got your fall dessert, it’ll take you from mid-September right through your Thanksgiving feast. It’s a crowd-pleasing cake with all the iconic flavors of the season: pumpkin, apples, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. And it’s as easy to make as it is tasty: Just pull out a mixing bowl, toss in the ingredients, blend them, and it’s ready for the oven.

It’s almost foolproof; just remember to grease your pan generously and don’t overfill it, measure ingredients carefully and be sure to use fresh ones.

At high altitudes, I find a 6-cup Bundt pan yields a cake with a better texture than one made in a pan with a 12-cup capacity (the most popular size). So, if I’m feeding a crowd, I double the recipe and make it in two 6-cup pans. If you only have a large Bundt pan, no worries; the cake will still come out well.

One-Bowl Fall Bundt Cake

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(Make in a 6-cup non-stick Bundt pan. Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and higher. Double the recipe for 12-cup pan.)


½ cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Scant ½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon table salt

Generous 1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Generous 1⁄8 teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup mild vegetable oil (I use canola)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level)

7 ½ ounces canned pumpkin puree (about 1 cup)

½ large Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and chopped fine or grated

1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Maple glaze, optional

¼- ½ cup lump-free confectioners’ sugar

Pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Generously grease your pan with a flour-vegetable oil spray (even if it’s nonstick).

Place the first seven ingredients (granulated sugar through ginger) in a large mixing bowl, and beat at low speed with an electric mixer to blend. Add the vegetable oil, vanilla and eggs, and beat at medium speed until combined. Add the flour in three additions, mixing at low speed after each addition, until a batter forms. Don’t over mix. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the pumpkin, and finally, fold in the chopped apple and pecans. Check the bottom of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are fully blended and evenly distributed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, filling it no more than 1¼ inches from the top. Smooth the top, if needed, and tap the pan on a counter to release any air bubbles. Place pan directly on the oven rack (air must circulate in the hole in the pan’s center, so don’t place anything between it and the rack), and bake until a tester comes out clean. Expect cracks to develop on the top as the cake rises and bakes (they won’t show once the cake’s inverted). Baking time is between 35 and 45 minutes (longer if you double the recipe and use a 12-cup capacity pan).

Remove the pan to a rack, cool 10 minutes, invert and remove pan, and cool the cake completely on a rack. The cooled cake can be glazed or it can be frozen, wrapped airtight, for up to a month.

Make glaze, if using: Place ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl, and whisk to aerate. Add 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and whisk to combine. In small doses, add more sugar (if the glaze is thin) and/or syrup (if it’s thick) until the glaze is smooth, opaque and a consistency that slowly slides off a spoon when lifted. Drizzle evenly over the cooled and defrosted, if frozen, cake, and let set. Store the cake, covered, in the fridge for up to five days. Serve at room temperature.

Vera Dawson teaches high-altitude baking classes and is the author of the high-altitude cookbooks “Cookies in the Clouds” and “Baking Above It All” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards). Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at

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