Back in the day, my friend Julie and I would spend the few minutes after before our cycling class trading stories about our baking conquests.
Yes, it’s not uncommon for me to talk about food at the gym. No matter if my fellow gym rats know what I do for a living or not, we somehow always manage to gab about what we’ve cooked or eaten lately.
But then again, I guess that’s why we all go to the gym in the first place — to do penance for all the calories we’ve either already consumed or are about to after that grueling class ends.
Like me, Julie loves to bake. After pedaling like there’s no tomorrow, she’d tell me about the fruit pies she baked during the holidays and the biscuits she labored over to perfect, even going so far as to mail-order just the right flour to ensure they’d bake up extra light and flaky.
Although Julie has since moved on to do her pedaling at another gym, I remember how she was especially excited about traveling to the South to take a few baking classes. When she came back, she surprised me with a gift: a copy of the “The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook” (Artisan, 2012). Autographed, too, by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day, the owners of the Savannah, GA Back in the Day Bakery.
The book is full of the homespun treats they are known for, everything from “Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Muffins” to “Plum Custard” to “Mexican Hot Chocolate Shortbread.”
But it was their “Brown Sugar Bundt Cake with Butterscotch Glaze” that caught my eye first because of its old-fashioned, timeless appeal.
This cake has a heap of brown sugar in it — both in the batter that’s the color of a latte and in the sticky, glossy glaze that gets poured over the top. The batter is fortified with sour cream, ensuring that the cake comes out wonderfully moist with a fluffy fine crumb.
It’s cake that’s incredibly rich and buttery. It tastes of vanilla, toffee and butterscotch.
It’s the kind of cake you can picture yourself sitting down to on a sunny front porch with a good friend to idle the afternoon away. If you’ve both just spent an hour beforehand pedaling to nowhere fast, it makes for the sweetest reward of all.
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake with Butterscotch Glaze
(Serves 10 to 12)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extact
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
For the butterscotch glaze:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan, making sure to get into the tight crevices. Lightly dust the pan with flour, tapping the pan on the counter to shake out the excess.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cardamom; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar on low to medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix just to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour, and mix for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, incorporate any ingredients hiding at the bottom of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan firmly on the countertop to remove any air bubbles from the batter.
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the butterscotch glaze: Put the butter, brown sugar, and cream in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let the glaze cool slightly, then pour over the cooled cake. the cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
From “The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook” by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day
More Bundt Baking: Cranberry-Creme Fraiche Bundt Cake
And: Root Beer Bundt Cake