Apple Bundt with Brown-Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze

As I rolled up my sleeves to make my third apple Bundt cake in two days, I got quizzical eyes and quite a few questions from our 4 year-old. “Why are you making another apple cake, Mom?” and “Don’t we have enough apple cake, Mom?” 

Tessa didn’t quite understand as I explained the reasons why the first two didn’t make the cut. But she just nodded her head in loving agreement and once again offered up her chatty happy services, “Mom, I’ll help you again, so we can get this done really quick. Then we’ll play. Ok?”

I love that girl!


I had been building up an appetite for a couple weeks, for an incredibly moist and dense apple Bundt cake. Don’t ask me why it had to be a Bundt, but it just, well, had to be. And I didn’t have a recipe for one, so I went digging through my cookbooks and online.

Usually a pretty good judge of a recipe, I found one that looked interesting. But, boy, was I mistaken. It was beyond tweakable. Both the cake and the recipe got ditched in the garbage.

Then I got to thinking about my favorite apple bread recipe, pulled it up on the iPad at the kitchen counter, and started making adjustments for a Bundt. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.

But then I messed up the glaze. In a really bad way.

Thus, Cake #3.

So please know that this Apple Bundt with Brown-Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze is all I promise it to be. The cake is packed with apple cinnamon goodness, is as moist a cake as you’ll ever find, and bakes and slices beautifully.

The glaze is just plain awesome, too. Its texture is thick and silky smooth. And the brown-butter lends it a deep almost caramel-like flavor, while the vanilla bean speckles tempt in the sweetest of ways.

It’s a very good thing Cake #3 achieved apple cake perfection, as sweet Tessa was due a reward for stickin’ it out with Mom in the kitchen. We played. And we played. And we played!

Apple Bundt with Brown-Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze

Yield: 12


for the apple bundt:

  • 1 T. unsalted butter and some flour for preparing the pan
  • 4 medium apples – peeled, cored, & shredded (use the big holes on your grater), to make about 3-1/2 cups shredded apples – I used 2 Granny Smith, 1 Gala, and 1 McIntosh
  • 1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-1/3 c. white sugar, divided
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. mace
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. apple cider
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

for the brown-butter vanilla bean glaze:

  • 2 to 3 T. half and half
  • 2 c. sifted powdered sugar
  • vanilla bean seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean (split bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds)
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract


for the apple bundt:

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 12-cup bundt pan by smearing butter over every little nook and cranny of its interior. Then add some flour and tilt your pan so flour sticks to all of the buttery surface. Set pan aside.

Stir the shredded apple with lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the white sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining 1 cup white sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, apple cider, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Then add the flour mixture and combine once again. Add the apples and mix until the apples are evenly distributed. Pour into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out of the cake clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto your serving platter.

**If you are going to top the cake with the glaze, start making the glaze immediately, while the cake is still warm!

Another option for serving this cake would be to finish it with a simple dusting of powdered sugar once it is cool. A dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream would also be very good.

for the brown-butter vanilla bean glaze:

First, pour 3 tablespoons of half and half into a small bowl and set aside. This is just to take the chill off, while you prepare the rest of the glaze.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sifted (don’t skip the sifting!) powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the butter until golden brown. It should smell delicious and toasty. If it smells burnt, you went too far! This should take about 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully pour browned butter into the powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds, leaving the darkened butter sediment behind. Add 2 tablespoons of the half and half, then add the vanilla. Stir vigorously until smooth. You want the glaze to be somewhat thick, but easily pourable. If it seems too thick, add the remaining tablespoon of half and half. Pour the glaze over the cake while both the glaze and cake are still warm. The glaze cools quickly, so don’t delay!

Let the glaze set. Then slice and enjoy!

The cake fares well on the counter for a few days, covered with a cake dome.

The Bundt cake was inspired by an apple bread recipe that Mom makes. The glaze was adapted from Martha Stewart.

I’m linking up with the following this week:

Cheryl at TidyMom for I’m Lovin’ It (Wallach House Flea Market) Fun stuff!
Allison at Alli ‘n Son for Sweet Tooth Friday (Cinnamon Apple Muffins) Yum!
Liz (Hoosier Homemade) at It’s a Blog Party! for Fall Fest-Week 2
Kim at A Well-Seasoned Life for Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Robyn at Add a Pinch for Mingle Monday
Rachel at A Southern Fairytale for Mouthwatering Monday (Super cute North Pole Cupcakes by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen!)


88 Responses to “Apple Bundt with Brown-Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze”

  1. #
    Stephanie Meyer (Fresh Tart) — September 23, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Oh my goodness, what have you done here Mrs. Score? That is the most perfect looking cake I’ve ever seen, everything I love about cake. If my mom feels up for it, I’m baking this for her. Perfection!

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      Thank you so much, Dear Stephanie! I do hope you get the chance to spoil your mom with this. :)

  2. #
    Maria — September 23, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I wish I had a slice for breakfast! Beautiful fall cake!

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      I can vouch for its breakfast-worthiness. :) Thanks, Maria.

  3. #
    Isabelle @ Crumb — September 23, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Looks like third time’s the charm! This cake looks absolutely perfect… I love how the glaze gently slumps over the cake, and how it’s all speckled with little vanilla bean bits. Vanilla bean specks make me happy. :)

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you, Isabelle – so nice to meet you!

  4. #
    Amanda — September 23, 2011 at 8:27 am

    What a beautiful Bundt. :) I thank you for making it three time to ensure success for the rest of us!!

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Thank you, Amanda. My pleasure! :)

  5. #
    Laura — September 23, 2011 at 9:10 am

    That looks soooo good! I just may have to attempt to make this very soon!! :)

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Always nice to see your lovely face here, Laura. Thank you!

  6. #
    Jen {The Wholehearted Life} — September 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

    From the bottom of my heart….thank you :). This look and sounds sooooo delicious!

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks, Jen – hope you have a great weekend!

  7. #
    Kristen — September 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Oh my goodness…. this cake – and that GLAZE. Wow. I can’t wait to try it! Gorgeous pictures too!

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      Thank you so much, Kristen. And I’ve been drooling over your Pumpkin Bundt – it’s super lovely!

  8. #
    naomi — September 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Your daughter is adorable! And the cake looks fantastic. The brown butter glaze – awesome.

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks, Naomi. That little girl is one big sparkle to have around, and she LOVES to bake. We had alot of fun with Cake #3. :)

  9. #
    Monique (@AmbitiousKitch) — September 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Wow! I love bundt cake! This looks phenomenal! Good job.

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Thank you, Monique. :)

  10. #
    Paula — September 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    So glad you didn’t give up after attempt #2. This is a beauty and you can tell from your wonderful photograph how moist it is. I like the fact that you used three different types of apples and you know I’m loving that glaze with vanilla bean in it! I’m sure Tessa helping out made for part of attempt #3 being such a success :)

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Of course you would like this, Ms. Vanilla Bean Baker! And, yes, Tessa’s help made all the difference in the world. I was a little desperate to be done with the whole thing by that time, but she was so chipper and dug right back in with me. We turned up the tunes, tied on our aprons, and had a great afternoon. So very nice to hear from you, Paula – have a great weekend!

  11. #
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — September 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Well it looks like your persistence payed off, your cake looks beautiful! I think it’s funny that your daughter asked why this was your third cake of the week, you’d think our families would be happy for all the extra food we are constantly making, lol.

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Thank you, Sylvie. I know I’ve made 3 cakes in a week before, but 3 apple Bundts…well, even I was questioning that one! :)

  12. #
    michelle — September 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    wow this looks amazing–sure it tastes that way as well!

    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you, Michelle – nice to hear from you!

  13. #
    ButterYum — September 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Absolutely stunning looking cake – fabulous photo!! Sounds scrumpdillyicious too.


    • farmgirl replied on September 23rd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      Thank you so much, Patricia – fun to meet you!

  14. #
    Kate — September 23, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Did you hear that clunk? Because I fell over in a dead faint, swooning, then passing out from how beautiful and delicious that looks. Amazing.

    And it’s nice to meet someone else with high enough standards to chuck an entire cake in the trash when it’s not good enough. Yet another reason I love you to the moon and back.

  15. #
    farmgirl — September 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Well, if I won’t eat it, I’m not going to serve it to anyone else, either! It was oily and spongey, with far too little apple flavor. Your comment made me chuckle. Thanks, Kate – {hugs} and have a great weekend!

  16. #
    Kim McCallie — September 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    This looks absolutely beautiful. It looks like you really found the perfect recipe here. There is nothing I love more than an apple cake. And, I’ve recently fallen in love with brown-butter frosting. Plus, your photographs are great! I’d like to invite you to share your recipe on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

    • farmgirl replied on September 24th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you, Kim – great to hear from you again. I just linked up – hope you had a very happy birthday today!

  17. #
    Jessalyn — September 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I found your website via Pinterest and I’m so glad I did. Your photos are beautiful and this bundt looks divine! I know some cakes are best eaten the day they are made. However, with apple cakes they tend to stay moist and delicious up to a couple of days after they are baked. Would you say that holds true with this cake? I’m hoping to make it the evening before I bring it to a get together. Thanks!

    • farmgirl replied on September 24th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      And I’m so glad you visited – thanks! You’re absolutely right…this cake holds up really well for a few days. I actually photographed and served this cake the day after I made it – I would definitely say you will be fine in making it the evening prior. Best wishes!

  18. #
    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — September 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Looks phenomenal! Pining for future use. :)

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks, Christina! :)

  19. #
    Cathy @ Savory Notes — September 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I saw your photo on Tastespotting and IMMEDIATELY had to come visit. This cake looks gorgeous, and sounds divine. I’m really excited to try it out!

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Cathy – thanks for checking it out. I hope you like it!

  20. #
    Sukaina — September 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Your daughter sounds liek a darling. And this apple bundt cake looks gorgeous. So glad to have stumbled across you on Foodgawker.

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      I know I’m biased, but that little girl is truly sweet. She’s always happy and helpful. Thank you so much for your comment – it’s great to hear from you, Sukaina!

  21. #
    Erika - The Teenage Taste — September 26, 2011 at 5:04 am

    This looks crazy good! You had me at Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze! Mmmmm… :-D

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks much, Erika. And, yes, that glaze is crazy tempting and delicious!

  22. #
    Grieta — September 26, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I would love to make this fabulous looking cake, but can you please clarify what is half-and-half and what is mace? I’m sure I can find it in South Africa, if I knew what I was looking for …;-)

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      Hello, Grieta! In the United States, half and half refers to a liquid dairy product that is half milk, half cream. I found several places online that suggest this substitute: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a measuring cup, let cool for a minute, then fill with whole milk to equal one cup. And mace is a sweet and flavorful spice from the dried covering of the nutmeg, with a softer flavor than nutmeg. I hope this helps. Best wishes!

      • Grieta replied on September 26th, 2011 at 11:28 pm

        Thanks very much. Don’t know that we have half and half on the shelves, but I’ll make my own. And mace sounds a little bit like All Spice which is lovely to use in this type of cake anyway. I’ll simply have to try it out and taste how it goes! Cheers from Johannesburg, RSA

  23. #
    Jenn — September 26, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I saw your photo at Foodgawker and just had to come visit! Beautiful pictures! It makes me want a slice now :).

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Jenn – nice to meet you!

  24. #
    Natalie — September 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Delicious! I might have to try this recipe out for Thanksgiving!

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Natalie, nice to hear from you. This would be a very nice addition to the Thanksgiving sweets buffet, indeed!

  25. #
    Robin @ Simply Southern Baking — September 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Oh my! This cake looks amazing…and perfect for fall!

    • farmgirl replied on September 26th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Thank you so much, Robin. :)

  26. #
    Rachel@Time for Good Food — September 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Yum, this looks soooooo good! The glaze just looks divine! Will definitely have to try your recipe with some fresh Georgia apples. I just discovered your site — will definitely follow. :)

  27. #
    Dawn — September 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    OMG. I’m speechless. Most likely because I’m drooling.

  28. #
    Aimée @ Food: Je t'Aimée — September 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

    OH – gorgeous! What a stunning, luscious-looking cake! Perfect for fall. Can’t wait to try it!

  29. #
    Mom — September 29, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Brenda’s Dad and I were fortunate to be at the Score home when this cake was served. Delicious! The glaze is so smooth and yummy too.

  30. #
    Weekend Cowgirl — September 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    This sounds like has a good spice cake taste also which I love!

  31. #
    Kirsten is Comfortably Domestic — October 3, 2011 at 9:16 am

    We are heading to the apple orchard this afternoon. I see apple cake in our immediate future!

    • farmgirl replied on October 5th, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      Oh, yay! We are heading to the orchard later this week – can’t wait to bake more apple treats!

  32. #
    Wenderly — October 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    THAT is spectacular. It screams Fall & warm & cozy & soul satisfying.

    Just lovely as can be.

    • farmgirl replied on October 5th, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you so much, Wenderly. It’s all of those words you used. :)

  33. #
    lisa — October 7, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Hello….I made your cake, it was so amazing that I had to blog about it and you site!!! Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes with us all:) what a blessing!


  34. #
    Jessie — September 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Pretty pictures, cake looks great! So excited for fall flavors.

    • Brenda replied on September 5th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks, Jessie – I have been craving this cake again!!!

  35. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — September 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    This cake is so beautiful (just saw it in your “day in the life” and had to come see it myself). I love an apple bundt and that glaze is perfection!

  36. #
    theresa brown — September 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    In the oven right now. I love a good bundt cant wait to taste. If it tastes as good as it smells will br making a few more times. Glad I found your site!

  37. #
    Kerri — October 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    That looks can’t wait to make!! Where do you buy vanilla beans?! Thanks for sharing

    • Brenda replied on October 9th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Kerri! I get my vanilla beans at a variety of places, but mostly from Penzey’s Spices and a bakery in Minneapolis.

  38. #
    Laura Mosier — February 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Your Apple Bundt Cake w/ Browned Butter Glaze was a HUGE hit at our house!! I didn’t have apple cider, so I substituted Homemade Apple Pie Moonshine……LOL!!! It was DELISH!

    • Brenda replied on February 13th, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Homemade Apple Pie Moonshine?! That sounds fantastic!! I want some for my own apple bundt cake! :)

  39. #
    Anne — October 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Well the picture of this delicious looking cake caught my eye so I had to try it. I have 2 of these cakes in the oven. One for the family and one for the church.I have one question however.What happens if the cake is not warm when you pour the glaze over it?

  40. #
    Anne — October 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Have 2 of these Babies in the oven now. I was wondering why the cake has to be warm when pouring the glaze? Does the glaze harden?

    • Brenda replied on October 17th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Hello Anne! Oooooo…can I come over for a piece?! You will want to glaze the cake while both the glaze and cake are a bit warm, as the glaze thickens up quickly as it cools. If you want that smooth droopy appearance like in my photos, this is important. Please let me know how it turns out for you!

      • Anne replied on October 18th, 2013 at 12:38 pm

        Hi Brenda

        Thank-you for responding so quickly to my post . Well the cakes turned out beautifully and were delicious. The frosting is to die for and I really liked that the frosting stiffens slightly so you don’t get that accumulation of frosting on the plate. This is a keeper. Moist and delicious!

        • Brenda replied on October 22nd, 2013 at 9:17 pm

          Yay!!! I’m so happy you liked this cake, Anne. It’s on my list to make again. Thank you so much for coming back to let me know.

  41. #
    computernerd01 lyrics — February 11, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Thanks very much. Don’t know that we have half and half on the shelves, but I’ll make my own. And mace sounds a little bit like All Spice which is lovely to use in this type of cake anyway.

  42. #
    Kanmani — November 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Oh my goodness! Very delicious recipe :)

  43. #
    Mark — June 26, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    nice work

  44. #
    shahbaz — July 10, 2015 at 3:41 am

    great work

  45. #
    Brittanne — September 11, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    This is simply amazing!! I had to use 8 apples to make 3.5 cups though. Also I didn’t have mace or cider so I subbed allspice and chai tea. Instead of vanilla I used some butterscotch and pumpkin spice extract to switch it up. This cake is super moist flavourful and gorgeous! Bonus: my house smells like fall know!

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  47. #
    Study in Canada for Free 2016 — February 11, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks a ton for sharing your knowledge! It is great to see that some people still put in an effort into managing their websites. I’ll be sure to check back again real soon.


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