Bundt cakes are the perfect vehicle for pretty presentation without the fussiness of a many-layered, intricately frosted affair, leaving plenty of time for whatever else it is you do. A simple pound, lemon, or chocolate cake, though, seems a little dusty when you consider all of the amazing flavor combinations you just have to be brave enough to try. Why not put herbs in your cake? Trust us, it’ll work out. It will make you feel so hip and food blogger-esque. “Oh, this old thing? I wanted something a little more exciting,” you’ll say, “so I just threw this together.” And it will be good.
Whether it’s for a laid-back party, a small get-together, or an any day sweet snack, these Bundt cakes are updated for the times and more chic than your great aunt’s old Bundts. Unless, of course, your great aunt was a visionary who regularly salted her caramels and put savory herbs in sweet desserts. In that case, hats off to your hip great aunt.
1. Orange Scented Bay-Leaf Pound Cake
We won’t be focusing on pound cakes, because that’s so typical old-school Bundt cake. This one from 101 Cookbooks is too good to not mention, though. Bay leaves, usually confined to soups and sauces, may seem like a strange ingredient in pound cake, but it actually has a delicate herbal note complementing the citrusy punch of orange. By steeping the leaves in butter, the fat-soluble volatile oils in the herb is drawn out. The result is a moist, heavily perfumed cake made more beautiful in a Bundt pan.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, for piping
- 10 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- Finely grated zest of one orange
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1½ to 2½ tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner or Cointreau
Directions: Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 3 of the bay leaves. Let steep for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a Bundt pan. Dust with flour and tap out any excess.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla until combined. If needed, barely rewarm the butter to liquify it and pluck out the bay leaves. Whisk the butter into the egg mixture.
With a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture just until the batter is smooth. Do not over-mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and top the cake with remaining leaves. Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, then draw a line of butter around the center of the cake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It’s better to slightly under-bake than over-bake this cake.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the leaves. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and then tip out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange liquor. Stir until smooth, then spread the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and harden.
2. Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake With Salted Caramel Sauce
This cake is super simple, but in a bundt pan looks awfully fancy. Have you had enough space between pumpkin season and now to dive back into a pumpkin-and-caramel dessert? We hope so, because this one from Chow is warming and spiced and served smothered in hot salted caramel sauce. There’s no going wrong here.
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil, plus more as needed
- 4 large eggs
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin purée, not pie filling; about 1¾ cups
Salted caramel sauce
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 12-cup bundt pan with vegetable oil and flour. Tap out excess flour and set aside.
Place the measured flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.
Place the sugar and measured oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the sugar is incorporated, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
Return the mixer to medium speed and add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to medium-low, add the pumpkin, and beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with the rubber spatula.
Turn the mixer to low speed, slowly add the reserved flour mixture, and beat until almost completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in any unincorporated flour at the edges with the rubber spatula, making sure to scrape to the bottom of the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour to 70 minutes.
Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Turn the cake out onto the wire rack and cool completely.
3. White Bean Bundt Cake With Fluffy Meringue Frosting
This cake from Joy the Baker uses a whole can of white beans to cut down on butter while also adding moisture, protein, and structure. It’s sweet and dense and definitely doesn’t taste like beans. It’s sneaky. Joy put vanilla and almond extracts in this and kept it simple, but she also recommends thinking about blueberries, orange zest, diced pineapple, dried cherries, or chocolate chunks.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 (15½ ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 large egg whites
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- ½ cup toasted coconut
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center. Grease and flour a Bundt pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Add beans to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Whip until beans are almost to a smooth purée.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter, sugar, and bean purée. Beat on medium speed until butter and beans are well incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beans will break down. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond.
Slow the mixer to low speed and add half of the dry ingredients. Beat until almost completely incorporated. Add all of the buttermilk. Beat until incorporated. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat briefly. Use a spatula to fold together and make sure all of the wet and dry ingredients are completely incorporated.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake come out clean. Don’t over-bake.
Remove the cake from the oven. Allow to rest in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While cake cools, make the frosting. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
In a medium, heatproof bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk until sugar has completely dissolved, about 4 minutes. Mixture will be a foamy white and beginning to thicken slightly.
Transfer the warmed egg mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until whites are thick and glossy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla extract and almond.
Smooth frosting over cooled cake. Top with toasted coconut.
4. Citrus Blueberry Thyme Cake
This citrusy, slightly woodsy, berry-sweet cake from Hungry Rabbit doesn’t just have blueberries dotting the batter like a muffin — it has a full-blown blueberry filling. This cake should really be made with fresh thyme, but if you can only get your hands on dried, warm the buttermilk and steep 1½ teaspoons dried thyme in the milk for an hour or more, allowing it to slowly cool back down to room temp. The citrus glaze is bright and zesty and sweet, the perfect accompaniment to the swirled cake.
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons low-sugar pectin
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2½ tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed to thin out glaze
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup fresh blueberries for decoration
- Lemon and Lime zest for decoration
Directions: Whisk sugar, pectin, and salt together in small saucepan. Process blueberries in blender until mostly smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer ¼ cup purée and zest to saucepan with sugar mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to dissolve pectin and sugar. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, add remaining purée and lemon juice to cooled mixture, and whisk to combine. Let sit until slightly set, 8 to 10 minutes.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk flour, thyme, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom together in large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, lemon juice, lime juice, and vanilla together, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix both zest and sugar until it resembles wet sand. Add butter and beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, until incorporated.
Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined. After final flour addition, beat on low until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and finish folding batter with rubber spatula to fully combine. Let batter sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Spoon half of batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Using back of spoon, create ½-inch-deep channel in center of batter. Spoon half of filling into channel. Using small offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful not to drag filling to bottom or edges of pan. Repeat steps with remaining batter and filling.
Bake until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack.
While cake is baking, whisk together juices and sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juice gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable.
After inverting cake, pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour; pour remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Decorate cake with blueberries and citrus zest.
5. Chocolate Red Wine Cake
This chocolate cake is a great excuse to open up a bottle of wine. Alternatively, this chocolate cake is a great way to use a ½ cup of wine from the bottle you started drinking before company came over. The acidity and color of the wine paired with the natural cocoa powder makes this cake fairly red-tinged. If you like red velvet cake but don’t like mega amounts of buttercream or cream cheese frosting or really unnatural food coloring, this cake from Martha Stewart could be for you.
- Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 box sugar-free black cherry gelatin
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for serving
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt chocolate in a small bowl placed over a small saucepan of simmering water. Let cool 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine wine and milk; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat for 2 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, gelatin, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Add to mixer bowl, along with the wine mixture, and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Using a plastic knife, carefully loosen cake from the pan; invert onto a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely.
To prepare the glaze, combine the butter, wine, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Set aside until ready to serve.
Dust cake lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Slice cake and drizzle with glaze.