Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Mocha Icing

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What you see here is not just a Bundt cake; it is a birthday Bundt. How did this come to be, exactly?

It all started with a Bundt pan lying around unused in my cabinet. I bought it because I overestimated the number of cakes I’d be baking, I suppose. I justified the purchase by convincing myself it wasn’t a unitasker, so it would be good for more than just cakes (word has it that Bundts are handy for roasting racks of lamb–not that I ever make lamb, but you know it’s good to have just in case).

Now, I consider myself to be a fairly thrifty person to begin with, but I am especially frugal on a nonprofit salary. So when I saw this recipe for a Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake in the September issue of Bon Appetit as I was looking for a recipe for Jason’s birthday cake, I noticed two things: 1) it claims to make use of ingredients that are probably in one’s pantry anyway, and 2) it gave me an excuse to use my bundt pan.

I just wanted to clear it with him first–Bundts aren’t exactly birthdayish; after all, there’s a lot of surface area missing for writing “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” in icing. Nevertheless, my heart was set on trying this particular recipe.

“Can I make you a Bundt birthday cake?” I asked.

“Only if it is a meatloaf bundt,” he replied. See, last year we went to Montreal and got the most delicious mini-Bundt meatloaves with foie gras on top and a side of poutine at Au Pied de Cochon. Since then, he’s been convinced that the only worthwhile use of a Bundt pan is to make visually-stunning meatloaf.

While Jason was visualizing a large-scale Bundt meatloaf cake erupting with mashed potato lava, I had my heart set on this lovely recipe:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
  • 4 tsp instant espresso powder, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups golden brown sugar, divided
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Grease your Bundt pan. Whisk together the boiling water, cocoa powder, and 2 teaspoons of espresso powder. BA suggests doing this in a 2-cup glass measuring cup; I found this to be quite handy. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  In a large bowl, beat 2 cups of brown sugar, the vegetable oil, and vanilla together to blend (this is where you want to use an electric mixer if you have one). Add in the two eggs and beat to blend.  Add in half of the flour mixture until it is blended, and then pour in the cocoa mixture. Add in the remaining flour mixture, blend, and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Then pour the whole thing into your Bundt pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

In the meantime, in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the rest of the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of espresso powder, and 2 tablespoons of water in until the sugar melts. Take the pan off the burner and add in the butter (I cut the butter into small pieces to make it distribute more easily) and 1/4 of chocolate chips. Let it cool for a minute and then drizzle it over the cooled cake. I didn’t have a whole lot of time before leaving my apartment to let it cool, so it was kind of soupy and formed big pools around the bottom of the plate. When I arrived at the party about 40 minutes later I scraped those up and re-spread them over the top of the cake in the places that looked especially bare.

All in all, in spite of the unorthodox shape of the birthday cake and the inexpensive ingredients (the only thing I had to buy was instant espresso), the cake was a total hit. It disappeared about twenty minutes into the birthday celebration, and friends are still texting me for the recipe. In light of my recent gingerbread disaster, I’m glad I can redeem my baking skills by presenting others with such an easy but elegant recipe. So there you go: tread off the beaten path for your next foray into baking, and good things will happen.

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2 Responses to “Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Mocha Icing”

  1. Mamyte Says:

    You mean to tell me that I have a meatloaf pan and I didn’t even know it?! You are correct…these ingredients are in the pantry…now what’s the next special occasion?

  2. margaret Says:

    your bundt is so beautiful! i used this recipe again, but for some reason i always have trouble getting the cake out of the pan intact.

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