Pumpkin desserts tend to jump into the spotlight when fall rolls around, but apple desserts are fall favorites for me, too. Whether you’re talking about apple pies, breads or muffins, apple desserts are always crowd-pleasers. Like pumpkin in fall desserts, apples are often paired with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg – sometimes to the point where the natural sweetness of the apple is dominated by the flavor of the spice. This Apple Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake keeps apple in the spotlight by pairing fresh apple with vanilla bean – and while it may not be the most traditional apple cake flavor combination, it is an amazing one.
As the name Apple Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake suggests, I used real vanilla bean in this recipe. The bean should be split and the seeds should be scraped out and added to the apple cake batter. The vanilla seeds will leave small specks throughout the cake once they are stirred in. The vanilla not only highlights the flavor of the apple, but it adds a subtle floral flavor that reminds me of apple blossoms, not just of apples. You can substitute in a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract for the vanilla bean if you don’t have one available, but the investment of the bean is well worth it because you’re not going to the get same floral vanilla quality without using a whole bean.
The batter itself is loaded with plenty of shredded apples which ensure that apple is distributed evenly in every bite. You do not need to peel the apples before shredding because any peel will be shredded into such small bits that they won’t be noticeable in the finished cake.
The cake has a tender, moist crumb and is very satisfying to eat. I finished mine off with a little bit of vanilla glaze to boost the flavor of the vanilla even more, but you could stick to a dusting of confectioners’ sugar if you want to keep things simple. If you like your cake with a little extra frosting, a thinned-down cream cheese frosting (just add a little extra milk until it is pourable) that is flavored with vanilla beans would also be a nice alternative. Regardless of what topping you choose, the cake will be delicious and it will keep very well for several days after baking.
Apple Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups shredded apple (3 medium apples)
1/4 cup plain apple sauce
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until light. Stir in the vegetable oil. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape out the seeds. Save the pot to make the vanilla glaze. Add the seeds to the batter and stir in shredded apples and apple sauce. Blend in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in all the remaining dry ingredients and mix until batter is uniform and no streaks of flour remain.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Allow cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
It isn’t worth using a second vanilla bean just for the glaze. Re-scrape the vanilla bean that you used in your cake to get the last seeds and add them in to the glaze. If you can’t get any seeds at all, simply trim a 1/2-inch piece off of a fresh vanilla bean, scrape the seeds out and add that to your glaze. Store the leftover bean in a glass container until you’re ready to use it in another project.
Vanilla Bean Glaze
1/2-1-inch piece vanilla bean
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds using the back of a knife. In a medium bowl, beat together vanilla, butter, milk and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Gradually blend in the remaining confectioners’ sugar until the frosting becomes thick, smooth and pourable.
Drizzle onto cooled cake.