High Country Baking: Bring smiles to your loved ones’ faces this easter with baby bundts
Special to the Daily
High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column, published on Thursdays, presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Let’s face it … this won’t be an ordinary Easter. Many of us will be stuck at home, missing time-honored celebrations with people we hold dear. Though it’s a small gesture, serving a special Easter meal in these difficult times could add some much-welcomed normalcy to our lives.
These baby cakes, which require only ingredients many of us already have in our pantries, would be a good reminder of the traditional joys of the day. Glazed in pastel colors, crowned with jelly bean eggs, and packed full of vanilla, they’ll comfort our yearnings. Serve them at brunch or dinner to brighten your April 12.
The cakes come together using an innovative method called reverse-creaming. Traditionally, cakes are made by beating air into butter and sugar until they’re fluffy and light (creaming). After creaming, then dry ingredients go into the bowl. With reverse-creaming, the dry ingredients and sugar are mixed together first. Next, the fats and some of the liquids are blended into them and, finally, the remaining liquids are added. It’s fast, easy and gets good results.
I like to use it at elevations with reduced air pressure, where creaming can result in too much air in the butter and sugar causing the batter to rise too quickly and then collapse while baking. The baked cakes are brushed with vanilla syrup to provide additional moisture and flavor.
Baby Bundt Easter Cakes
Adjusted for altitudes of 7,800 feet and above
Make in a Bundtlette pan with ½-cup capacity openings
Yields eight baby cakes
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
¾ cup superfine sugar, preferably Baker’s
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of water
A pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring, optional
Jelly beans, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees (325 if your pan is dark metal), with a rack in the middle position. Grease the pan openings with a baking spray that contains flour. Use the same spray to lightly grease your cooling rack so the baked cakes don’t stick to it.
2. Make the cakes: Gently whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla in a small bowl and set the bowl aside. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer on low speed, stir them for about a minute until combined. Add the room-temperature butter and half of the egg mixture and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Then turn the mixer to high (medium if using a standing mixer), and beat for one and a half minutes. Scrape down the bowl. In three additions, add the rest of the egg mixture and beat for thirty to forty seconds after each addition, scraping down the bowl after each one.
3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the openings no more than ¾ of an inch from the top. Level the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Check at 23 minutes, though it may take up to 10 minutes longer.
4. While the cakes bake, make the syrup: Stir the sugar, water and salt in a small pan over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil and the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and stir in the vanilla.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and cool the cakes 10-15 minutes. Invert the pan and let them fall out onto the greased rack. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the cake tops, brush the syrup over them, let it absorb and brush again. You may not use all the syrup. Let the cakes cool completely and rest for several hours to evenly distribute the syrup.
6. Make the glaze: Place the butter and two tablespoons of the milk/cream in a two-cup measure and heat in a microwave to melt the butter. Whisk in ½ cup of sugar until smooth. Whisk in more sugar, a little at a time, until the glaze thickens but is still pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk/cream. Add the vanilla and food coloring, if using, and drizzle glaze over the cakes. Top with jelly beans, if desired. The baby cakes will remain fresh for two days if well wrapped and kept at a cool temperature.
This recipe is a variation of published in ‘The Cake Bible” by Rose Levy Berenbaum.
Dr. Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco, and Breck Books in Breckenridge). She became a full-time Frisco resident in 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.