Thanksgiving Cake ♥

An 'all-in-one' Thanksgiving cake [Don't worry, there will be more Thanksgiving vegetable recipes again tomorrow. And don't forget, What's your favorite pie? Leave a comment on the recipe for the double-crust American Apple Pie, you can win a video with tips for making perfect pie crusts. Winner will be announced on Wednesday.]

So every Thanksgiving meal needs dessert, yes? If even pumpkin pie and apple pie are traditional for Thanksgiving dinner itself, for the weekend's festivities, think about a quick-to-make Bundt cake that includes so many of the Thanksgiving flavors, pumpkin, cranberry, pecans, even apple. This is a moist spice cake, easy to mix and quick to bake, easy to keep on hand.

The recipe comes from my favorite home baking cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, who calls it All in One Holiday Cake. The cookbook's recipes are perfect for home bakers who love to reach into their pantries to bake. If you're already thinking 'Christmas gifts', this would be perfect for a favorite baker, even ones just starting out for it's filled with tips and variations that make the book as much an intimate kitchen lesson as a collection of great recipes.

INGREDIENT NOTES The recipe calls for unsweetened pumpkin puree -- don't accidentally come home with pumpkin pie filling which is already sweetened and spiced. Peel, core and grate the apple RIGHT before adding to the mixture. Otherwise it'll turn brown in the air, even in just a few minutes.

NUTRITION NOTES For this cake, I used two favorite tricks for baking for a small household. First, Bundt cake recipes are big because most Bundt pans are big. So I halved the recipe (except for the spices and other flavorings) and baked it in a smaller Bundt pan, a recent find. My version serves eight generously, 16 sparingly. Second, the Bundt pan is is sculpted, so it already 'looks' better on a plate and so needs little sugar-sweet adornment.

MAKE AHEAD TIPS Bake the cake the day before serving, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap so it'll be sweet and moist the next day. You can drizzle with icing on either day but I usually do it just before serving so that the icing doesn't get messed up by the plastic or by traveling.

FOR THE CURIOUS Yes, the photo was taken earlier, in late September when the shadows were lengthening but before falling leaves and first frost.

FROM THE ARCHIVES See the Recipe Box for more pumpkin recipes.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Serves 8 generously or 16 sparingly (for a standard Bundt cake, double the ingredients and plan to serve 16 generously and 32 sparingly)

1/2 cup pecans, chopped (for the cake, toast more if you'd like to sprinkle some atop the icing)

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature (or warmed in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tart apple, that's a Granny Smith or Jonathan or Macintosh, NOT a Red Delicious, peeled, cored and grated (or chopped)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped (I put them in a small food processor but cutting them in half or quarters would be fine too)
Those pecans you toasted

2 tablespoons maple syrup
Powdered sugar
Cream or milk

PREP Set the oven to 350F. Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and put into the oven (even as it's preheating) to toast until warm and all nutty-scented. Set the timer for 5 minutes, then for increments of another minute or two -- you don't want to burn the nuts and they turn quickly. Grease the Bundt pan (or use Baker's Joy, my favorite spray).

DRY INGREDIENTS Whisk together in a small bowl.

WET INGREDIENTS In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugars til creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs (one at a time if you're doubling the recipe) and beat for a full minute. Add the fresh ginger and vanilla and mix in well.

COMBINE Add the dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined (I often use a wooden spoon at this stage). Stir in the pumpkin, apple, cranberries and toasted pecans. Scrape the batter into the Bundt pan, smooth the top, then bake for 60 - 70 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate to finish cooling.

FINISH In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup and just enough powdered sugar to make the right consistency for drizzling. If it gets to thick, add a drop or two of milk or cream. Drizzle over the cooled cake. (If you like, put the icing into a small zip-lock bag, then cut off a tiny corner and squeeze out the contents.)

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Move aside, turkeys. (No, not you, dear readers! Thanksgiving turkeys!) Here at A Veggie Venture, vegetables are the real stars of the Thanksgiving table. So it's new Thanksgiving recipes all November long for a fabulous collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipe ideas. Whether it's last year's famous World's Best Green Bean Casserole or a brand-new recipe which catches your fancy this year, move over turkeys, it's vegetables' time. © Copyright 2007

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. For a year or so I've been collecting Bundt pans in various designs and sizes -- and I've been collecting recipes for just as long! Thanks for this one -- goes right on the top of the pile.

  2. I've baked w/ pumpkin puree before and I can't love it enough. With many mouths to feed over the next two months, this really appeals to me, so easy w/o skimping on quality or presentation. Thx!

  3. Question: You mention if one uses a bundt pan to double the receipe. However, in the directions, you say spray bundt pan, etc. So if one doesn't use a bundt pan, what size pan are the standard ingredients for. I would prefer to use a bundt, but I am now confused(not hard to do!)

  4. Hi Sunny ~ Don't worry, it gets confusing, working with changes.

    I used a HALF-size Bundt pan and so halved the original recipe, and these are the quantities I show in my post. That's why for a STANDARD-size Bundt pan, I recommend doubling the ingredients.

    Okay but let's work with something specific. I just measured, the standard-size Bundt pan holds 12 cups of liquid, the half-size holds only 6. So use that as a gauge for using another size/shape pan.

    You will need to watch the time in the oven though, switching to another pan. I believe it will work work fine, though. This cake has a fairly heavy crumb so should adjust just fine. Let me know what you do and how it goes!

  5. This looks lovely - good enough that I'm pondering buying a Bundt pan. One question, though - do you suppose it would work without the cranberries? I have a shuddering aversion to them, but I always get leery of leaving anything out of a baked recipe.

  6. That's a really gorgeous cake pan - so festive!!

  7. Mmmm, that cake looks delicious.

  8. I love the shape of your bundt Alnanna! I also love your holiday baking series....with fruits and vegetables, of course :)

  9. Emily ~ Sorry for slow response, I missed the question the first time through. Sure, skip the cranberries! If you like -- but only if you like -- substitute something with similar texture and wetness. Have you tried the tart dried cherries from Trader Joe's? They're gorgeous! Or snip pieces of dried apricot (you might want to soak them in a liqueur to soften) or use raisins or currants or heavens, just skip them and use more apple. This cake is way more about the spicey cake than the add-ons. I think you'll like it but please do let me know how it goes!

    Nabeela ~ It's a great shape, isn't it?! And I got it for a steal, too! The florist at a local grocery store used it in some display and then they put it in the 'reduced price' cart that I love to poke through. PS Thanks for noticing that I'm sticking to vegetables, pumpkin and rhubarb sure make it easier than you think to use vegetables in baking!

  10. Hi, I do not like pumpkin, however what I do like is butternut squash or Hubbarb squash, so always substitute squash for pumpkin, have my late Mother-in-law's recipe for squash pie and make that all the time. Lily


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna