The leaves are slowly turning color. I drove up to Vermont last week and woke up to a 40-degree day: bright and crisp and cold. The air stung my lungs as I walked to my car, breathing in the smell of fall.
Tomorrow is Halloween, and is forecast to be 70 degrees in New York, so maybe I’ll dress up as a very pale person trying to get a tiny late season suntan HA.
Random heat wave aside, I like the changing of the seasons so much. It makes my heart swell every time, every year. As soon as I sense the bellwether of seasonal shifts—a whiff of woodsmoke drifting lazily through the breeze, the sign saying “hot apple cider” at the coffee shop, the feel of a flannel shirt—and all the accumulated memories of that season rush back to me.
Running through a dark neighborhood trick-or-treating at age 6, the rush of laughter from my sisters behind me, my cheeks red and flushed from the cold, pinking even more when we come inside to sit by the fire and spread our candy haul on the hooked fabric rug.
Walking at home in the cornfield with my mom, the dry cut stalks crunching with satisfying noise under our boots. Finding milkweed pods and stopping at the stream’s edge to crack off the delicate layers of ice that start to form on very cold mornings.
A hot spoonful of my mom’s apple crisp, the kind with a thick cap of nubby oats bound up with brown sugar and butter, all doused in a heavy stream of thick raw cream from our cows.
There are so many good things to bake in the fall, from pumpkin loaves to homemade Oreos with a Halloween-y themed matcha filling to all manner of apple cakes. Generally when I find myself with a glut of apples I make a huge batch of homemade applesauce (just apples, water, and a very generous amount of cinnamon—cooked down and mashed). But I also love apple crisp (in the aforementioned style), David Lebovitz’s custard-y apple cake, this fantastically moist apple cake from Smitten Kitchen, and today’s bundt cake which is tender and sweet and brushed with a sweet-salty cider and bourbon glaze.
Feel free to leave the bourbon out if you don’t like it. And if you can’t find boiled cider (I get mine from King Arthur), you can reduce down regular apple cider until thick and syrupy and use that.
Apple Spice Bundt Cake with Bourbon-Cider Glaze
For the cake
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 medium apples, peeled and grated (about 2 cups)
2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup evaporated whole milk
For the glaze
3 tablespoons boiled cider
3 tablespoons bourbon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan, making sure to get all the crevasses.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and oil and beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. Add the apples and mix until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture along with the evaporated milk, beating until the batter just comes together.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
While the cake cools, make the glaze. Melt together the butter with the sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cider, bourbon, and salt and whisk well.
Flip the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool. Brush the glaze over the cake while the cake is still warm, brushing a little bit at a time to let the glaze soak in.