breakfast, brunch, desserts

vanilla malt bundt cake.

vanilla malt bundt cake.

My Wee One headed back to school this morning…for her second year of preschool.

She’ll be 4 years old this week.

When I started this space, she was just a baby; as in literally a baby wobbling around on pudgy legs that had just learned how to walk.


If you need me, I’ll just be right over here inside this cake. It’s not a big bundt – only a 6 cup bundt, more of a petite teacake – but I think if I try really hard, I could curl myself up in it and live there for a few days. Perhaps tunnel my way out by snacking. I don’t know. But that’s the plan.

I know some of you are getting ready to have your own little ones. I don’t know if anyone has told you this, but they really are like having your own heart wandering around outside your body; that is not hyperbole. It is both awesome and not awesome at exactly the same time. Be prepared.

vanilla malt bundt cake.

This cake seems to have healing properties: something about the purity of the vanilla intensified by the malt is pretty incredible in terms of comfort food. You don’t even have to glaze it: a little powdered sugar dusting would be just fine on top. It’s on the same sweetness level with the cake part of a New York style coffee cake, and with a similar sturdiness. Plus, when you make bundt cakes, you make them knowing that cake shaped like giant donut automatically means you can eat it for breakfast and no one will look at you funny. Just throw some berries or something on the plate with it, because then everyone just thinks you’re a well-rounded food person who really knows how to enjoy life.

So I’m going to wallow for a little while longer today, and then I’m going to realize how irrational I’m being, as my Wee is 3 minutes away, and how I can’t have it both ways and how a very tiny part of me has been waiting for this moment (from a work perspective) all summer long. Then I’m going to catch up on things in the quiet that I haven’t been able to do for ages, and the time will fly, and when she’s running around here this afternoon and I can get nothing done again, I’ll remember why I loved school. Until then, I cake.

Adapted from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. A flat-out delicious book: everything I’ve made from it has been absurdly good.

Vanilla Malt Bundt Cake

for the cake:

  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon malt powder (I like Carnation)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulate sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, pod discarded
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the glaze:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (add more as you need it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons malt powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Make that cake:

Butter a 6 cup bundt pan* thoroughly, add a spoonful of flour to coat, and knock out any excess. Alternatively, oil the pan using a flavorless oil and a paper towel, or spray the entire thing down with cooking spray. I’ll warn you: the more deep curves or sharp angles your pan has (I’m looking at you, Heritage Bundt) the more you’ll want to do this carefully to make sure you get it all the crevices. Preheat oven to 325˚F.

*You don’t have a 6 cup Bundt? Neither do i, which is fine, because this recipe works just perfectly in a larger full-size Bundt pan. Pick your favorite knowing that the batter will only fill it about 1/2 to 2/3 full. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, malt powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and adding the vanilla bean seeds in with one of the additions. Scrape down the sides again and beat until combined, about 20 seconds more.

With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture, stirring on low for a few seconds, then stream in the buttermilk. Mix for a few seconds more, add the remaining flour mixture, and mix for 15 to 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, checking for any dry spots, and mix on low for a few seconds more until everything is incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, checking at the 35-minute mark and rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a small knife, skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Transfer cake (in pan) to a wire rack and allow to cool for 45 minutes. Carefully loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and from the center (never forget the center) and turn it out onto the rack to cool completely. Meanwhile…

Make that glaze:

Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, malt powder, and milk to a medium bowl. Whisk together until glaze comes together and is smooth. From there, it depends on what you want: for a thicker, more opaque glaze, add confectioner’s sugar a spoonful at a time until desired consistency is achieved. For a light drizzle, thin out with a very small amount of milk. Gravity is your best friend and worst enemy here, and you really can’t change consistency once you start to drizzle the cake, so test your consistency on an overturned bowl or drinking glass if you’re unsure of how it will act. That’s less of a pro tip and more of an “I have disappointed myself too many times with my own glazes” tip.

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  • Reply Brianne August 18, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Oh, Shannon, I love your openness here. I’m in the phase of I want a baby but how can we possibly handle a child (It’s so scary!), and hearing this is so relieving. It’s so worth it. No matter what. Also, this cake sounds splendid. Wee will be great at school! She’d love to come home to this for a snack, yeah? Hugs, friend!

    • Reply shannon August 18, 2014 at 8:10 am

      i like to help! so many of you are getting married and thinking about babies, and i think it’s important to be real about babies and kids. b/c sometimes, they’re crappy: even the best ones. and sometimes they’re amazing: even the worst ones. and always they are scary and it’s hard hard hard and so, so easy to be a parent. i gave the Wee a 4 hour lecture on being careful and responsible and not getting hurt and always listening to teachers and i’m STILL nervous: and i will be until she comes home. rinse, repeat, until forever. it’s just the way it is, but no matter what, she’s DEFINITELY getting cake when she gets home. hugs back!

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends August 18, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Your description of kids being like your own heart walking around outside your body just gave me chills. I don’t have kids of my own, but I can still imagine that feeling being both wonderful and simultaneously terrifying. Just thinking about it makes me want to crawl into this cake with you. Sixcups, you say? Sounds like enough room.

    • Reply shannon August 18, 2014 at 8:07 am

      wonderful and terrifying is precisely what it is like, 100% of the time. i mean, one one level you’re just so proud of them for becoming independent, but on another level, you just want to carry them everywhere and make sure they stay right next to you and never do anything which could hurt or scare them. a rough balance, to be sure. I’m gonna crawl back in the cake now…there’s room for you too, but only if we can hug. 🙂

  • Reply Katherine (eggton) August 18, 2014 at 7:15 am

    This post (and other things you’ve written on parenting) is such a comfort, but also so exciting. I bet she looked adorable this morning. Was she looking forward to it, or did she want to stay home?

    • Reply shannon August 18, 2014 at 8:05 am

      i think it’s always nice to be honest about parenting, because parenting tends to make you feel like both the best mom and the worst mom of all time, sometimes at the same time. it’s good to not feel alone in that. 🙂 she did look pretty cute: they tend to do lots of art projects, so i can’t go super fancy, but she does wear a new polo and some leggings and she’s just adorable in general: comfy and appropriate. she was looking forward to it – very much, actually, because she’s a school nerd like her mother – which made it easier. i see those kids who just cry and cry when their parents drop them off and it breaks my heart. That’s always been a comfort to know she has such a great time there.

  • Reply Sarah @ The Cook's Life August 18, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I so get it about wanting school to start and then missing the kid as soon as he/she is gone. My son is on his second week of high school (gulp!) and I am not used to him being gone. I love that he is busy and engaged all day, but I’m not there! I know I will get used to it in a few weeks – we are on our 12th year of school after all, if you count preschool. But right now I miss him and feel bad that I am enjoying my days alone at the same time.

    Vanilla malt cake! With vanilla malt glaze. I am so making this cake. My birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks and it is on a Wednesday. A very busy Wednesday. So that means birthday celebrations the weekend before and the weekend after. And probably two small birthday cakes. This cake will be one of those. I can’t wait. Hmmm, I do have a barbecue on Sunday that I could make the cake for. Maybe I don’t have to wait until my birthday! So excited to try this cake!

    Enjoy your school mornings! And you will, despite what you think this week. By next week you will love your child-free mornings. You will be able to enjoy your child-full afternoons all the more after a few hours of solitary work time!

    • Reply shannon September 8, 2014 at 9:30 am

      TOTALLY! it’s such a mixed bag when kids go to school, for sure! since i’m *ahem* answering this weeks after, i feel good. i can proudly say that we are almost back into our routine and that i am grateful for the quiet time in the morning. she’s a great kid, but she’s just so inquisitive – a wonderful quality, to be sure, but one which involves MUCH ANSWERING OF QUESTIONS. like a barrage of questions, all day, every day. i love it, but no work gets done after i pick her up from school, unless it’s sporadic. 🙂 I hope your school year is going well! why haven’t we had time to catch up! i blame myself, fully. let’s fix that.

  • Reply Ashley August 18, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Go Baked! I’d totally burrow in, curl up, and munch my way out of any baked good. In fact, I often consider face planting into the batter. Good luck with adjusting back to the school schedule! Wee One is lucky to have you as her awesome mom.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Baked is SO much one of my go-to cookbooks when i want something seductively sweet: they just do dessert so perfectly, and so elegantly, that it’s hard to steer clear. Aw, thank you! She would argue with you some days (like today, because i’m trying to get some things done before we play in the dollhouse), but i try my best with her. And she gets SO much cake, too. 🙂

  • Reply Kris August 18, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Lovely cake, beautiful writing, strong heart – thank you!

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Thank you so much, Kris!

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats August 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I need to make this cake because just reading this made me want to crawl inside of comfort food. I guess it is comfort food week this week /hugs

    THANK YOU for telling me that I didn’t need to find a 6 cup bundt, I was sitting here like “do I own one? do I need one? how big is the one i usually use?” and my brain was spiraling out of control….

    So.. this bundt and I have a date this weekend.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:03 am

      *hugs received*

      Seriously almost no one has a 6 cup bundt: i may have one SOMEWHERE, but really, it’s mostly 10 and 12-cup ones you see in stores anyway. I love this size though: i’m thinking about halving all my bundt recipes to make mini versions: so much cuter (and more manageable in terms of eating, unless you’re feeding a crowd.)

      it’s like we could double date: you can date my malt bundt, i can date your condensed milk pound cake. maybe dinner and a movie? okay.

  • Reply Deb August 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    And even when they grow up a place in our hearts always remains just for them! An exquisite post on how change makes us stronger, even when we want to hold onto every precious moment. A slice of cake always eases us through a rough day and Vanilla Malt would certainly be fabulous!

    • Reply shannon September 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

      So true, Deb! she could be 24 and not 4 and i’ll still be saying the same thing. Also, cake heals.

  • Reply Mimi August 19, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Vanilla and malted milk powder! A brilliant idea!!!

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Everyone loves malt, Mimi. Or at least i hope they do. 🙂 thanks!

  • Reply Monica August 19, 2014 at 11:04 am

    A healing cake is something we all need! Happy upcoming birthday to your little one. I hope she has a very happy and wonderful school and new year ahead! This cake just reinforces my desire for a bundt pan. I don’t have one and I always rationalize it by saying I don’t need one of those huge one. Now you got me thinking I can just make less in one…hmmm…

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Agree! thank you for the birthday wishes: she had a great one, and aside from the almost-required beginning of school cold, we have had a good time at school thus far. You have a happy school year as well!
      You, my dear, MUST get a bundt pan. Even if you use it for smaller versions, which i actually enjoy more than their larger counterparts. It’s a solid purchase: i have *ahem* more than a few, but all you really need is one in your favorite design.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs August 19, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I don’t necessarily need a bundt cake to consider it fair game for breakfast. 😉 But it helps. Good stuff — thanks. And enjoy the journey with the wee one — although no matter how old she gets, your heart will always be wherever she is.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

      I like your style, John. 🙂

      So true: I have a difficult time thinking she’ll ever be that far away from me, because yes: my heart follows her everywhere. She’s a great kid, and doing great this year in school so far. It’s going to be a good year, i think.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog August 20, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    I’m not opposed to getting up close and personal inside this here cake. Malted milk is one of the best ingredients. I really should use it more often. That glaze is making my heart go pitter patter.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

      This cake wants to get up close and personal with you too, Jennie: it told me.

  • Reply Emma August 22, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Oh man, Shannon, what size bundt are you going to need when she starts real real school next year? There’s gonna be room enough for all of us, probably, and we’re all going to want to crawl in and snack along with you! Hugs, dear friend. xo

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Easily i will need to drag out all my bundt pans at once, to make a cake fortress around my heart. 🙁 *sigh* hugs received, my sweet friend. thank you.

  • Reply Sarah@The Cook's Life August 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I made it five days until I made the cake. Oh my, it is good! I had one piece. Then I had another to make sure it was really that good. The rest of it is going to a barbecue tomorrow. I will make myself sick otherwise! I’m going to cut slices and fan them around a plate – no one will ever know we already ate five pieces out of it. 🙂 Fabulous recipe – vanilla malt in cake form. Perfection!

    • Reply shannon October 14, 2014 at 6:09 am

      YES! (btw why is it taking me so long to answer comments! i’m an idiot! :)) I’m super happy you made this and that you loved it: i had to give mine away, same reason: i would have made myself sick snacking on it.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats August 26, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I still can’t get over that school has started. It kind of doesn’t mean the same thing when you don’t have or aren’t a kid, I suppose, but I still love back-to-school season. I’m very excited for the fall, especially taking a little baby out for walks in the brisk fall air 🙂 And with this post you’ve gotten me extra excited about having a baby. I was starting to feel a little nervous! I think the wee one is at a perfect age- you get some free moments and she can communicate with you! 🙂 Oh and this bundt looks delish!

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:12 am

      I know, right! it was a little teary at first (me) and she took a few days to sort of let go and welcome being back at school, but once she realized we could still have fun at home in the afternoons and that all her little friends were at school, it was smooth sailing. That first week always seems to be a little harrowing – i remember that from when i was little – but we’ve gotten into our routine, i think.

      Listen: it’s okay to be nervous about a newborn. I was, and that never totally goes away. She’s at a great age though: that age where they’re all sturdy and like to do things on their own, but you can still pick them up and hold them (and they want you to). it’s pretty awesome.

  • Reply elizabeth August 28, 2014 at 7:39 am

    How I wish we lived close enough that I could pop over for a slice of this, as this whole month has been one big wet fart and I could definitely use some comfort food. 🙂

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Me too, Elizabeth: i feel like our cooking talents and styles would be very complementary to each other, especially in times of need. You really have had quite the month: i’m composing an email to you and in reading it initially, i wanted to send about a dozen of these cakes directly to you. 🙂 xox.

  • Reply Sarah @ The Cook's Life August 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I made the cake over the weekend! One word – delicious! I ate way too much of it, even with taking it to a bbq and letting other people actually have some. Beautifully moist, and bursting with vanilla flavor with just a hint of malt. Perfection!

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:15 am

      I LOVE THAT YOU MADE THE CAKE! don’t feel bad about eating too much: i did the same and it was SO worth it. Taking a cake like this somewhere actually just allows you to eat more of it, so good for you for enjoying it! I’m so happy you liked it, too: you know i get nervous when anyone makes things, so also thank for not telling me until after you ate it so i didn’t have to sit and worry. 🙂

  • Reply Abbe@This is How I Cook August 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Tunneling through sounds like a very good plan. Much better than sitting in the parking lot with your head in your hands doing the “ugly cry”. Seems like just yesterday.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

      The BEST plan, Abbe: I mean, i also did the ugly cry in the parking lot, but i was proud of myself b/c i DIDN’T do it while still inside the school as i did last year. 🙂 baby steps. My mom says the same thing: sometimes the things the Wee One does remind her of when me and my sister were little, and she still remembers everything so clearly! A blessing and a curse, probably, the memory of mothers. 🙂

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