How to Make An Easy, Elegant Holiday Bundt Cake

A decorative holiday Bundt cake that's as impressive as it is easy to make.

The holidays are the time to pull out all the stops but if you're not a baker, desserts can be intimidating. Luckily professional baker and decorator Liz Shim has the recipe for success when it comes to holiday desserts. Her Holiday Bundt Cake is simple, delicious, and looks like it came from the display of a gourmet pastry shop. Here's how to make it at home.

For the Pound Cake

The first step when making a Bundt cake is thoroughly greasing your pan. The more intricate and decorative the mold, the more generous you want to be when greasing. You can use non-stick cooking spray, but Liz prefers to use a few tablespoons of butter and flour. First, spread softened butter throughout the inside of the pan, once it's all buttered, add a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour and shake the pan to distribute. When all sides look covered, flip the pan and bang it a few times to release any excess flour. The flour will not only help create an easy release once the cake has baked, but also reveals any spots that need more greasing.

Now for the cake. Liz opts for a buttery Pound Cake here because it's rich, dense, and one of the simplest recipes to follow, or even memorize! That's because the original pound cake recipe was named for its use of one pound of each ingredient: butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. Liz likes to follow Grandmother's Pound Cake recipe, adding 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract for a richer flavor and ½ teaspoon of salt to balance out the sweetness. When making the batter, be sure to cream the butter and sugar until well aerated; since there are no leavening agents like baking powder or soda in a pound cake, this will be the only "lift" the batter gets. Finally, once the cake is baked, let it cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before flipping it out of the pan.

The Easiest Glaze Ever

The first step to decorating is to ensure your cake is completely cooled before adding a glaze; if it's still warm, the icing will melt into the cake or slide off. You'll want to level off the cake by using a serrated knife to trim the domed top. Score the edges where the lip of the cake starts flattening off, then cut around the cake, spinning the cake as you go. Use the extra cake for cake pops, or more likely, you can enjoy the trimmings as a special baker's snack! Once it's flat, flip and place the cake back on the cooling rack to glaze.

For a quick icing that works on any cake, follow this easy formula: Start with 2 cups of powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, and between 3-4 tablespoons of milk. Start with less milk and add a little at a time, mixing it in completely before adding more, until you reach your desired consistency. The more milk you add, the thinner your glaze will be; Liz aims for the consistency of peanut butter. (If you make it too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.) Mix until no clumps of sugar remain.

You can also add flavorings to your glaze by swapping the vanilla extract for fresh lemon juice, peppermint extract, or almond extract. To spread on the cake, you can either pour the icing directly onto the cake or use a spoon or rubber spatula to add small globs around the cake and gently pushing them towards either edge so that it drips down. Let gravity do the work!

For a Festive Finish

Now for the finishing touches, Liz has a few tricks up her sleeve for easy, elegant decorations that will make your cake look like it belongs in a winter wonderland. Sugar cranberries and rosemary sprigs are some of the easiest, and most beautiful, decorations for your holiday desserts. All you need are fresh cranberries, rosemary sprigs, corn syrup, sparkly or plain sugar, and some toothpicks. Using a toothpick pick up one cranberry at a time and gently dip into a small bowl of corn syrup. You can use a second toothpick to spread it and remove any excess corn syrup. Once it's coated, roll in or sprinkle with sugar. For a more dazzling look, purchase some glittery sanding sugar from your local craft or kitchen supply store.

Transfer to a drying rack then continue with about 10-20 more cranberries. For snowy rosemary, repeat the same process, either dipping or using a toothpick to paint the rosemary leaves with corn syrup. Sprinkle with sugar and allow to dry. Together, they look like festive holly to adorn your holiday cake!

To assemble, place a few cranberries and sprigs of rosemary atop the glaze in a ring around the top of the cake. Less is more when it comes to decorating so add a few at a time. If you crowd the top, the decorations may slide or fall off. However you choose to decorate this cake, it will look and taste like something from a professional bakery and not your very own kitchen. Prepare for your family to be amazed!


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