Mom’s Gift Inspires Versatile Thanksgiving Dessert

I can feel the excitement of this year’s holiday season building. During these final weeks before Thanksgiving, I’m grateful all our family remained healthy this year and that some of us may be able to share our Thanksgiving dinner together around the dining table.

Other than preparing the feast, I think I’m all set. While most homeowners begin decorating for Thanksgiving a week or two before the big day, I began filming autumn and Thanksgiving recipes months ago, so my holiday décor received a jump start with the early appearance of autumn garland, colorful leaves, pumpkins, fragrant spicy candles, and fresh yellow chrysanthemums on kitchen counters and shelves. Such is the life of a culinary television personality, but it sure eliminates a last-minute rush to decorate as the holiday approaches.

Cinnamon Ribbon Apple Cake


2 ½ cups flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

¾ cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 large baking apples, rinsed, peeled, chopped into ¼-inch size

Cinnamon Ribbon

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternately with the milk, to form a thick, creamy batter.  Stir in vanilla and chopped apples.

Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray-with-flour. Spoon 1/3 of the batter into the pan.  In a small bowl, stir 1 ½ tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon together until blended well. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the batter, then spoon the remaining batter into the pan.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 45 minutes on a rack. To remove the cake from the pan, place a rack on top of the pan, turn it upside down, and the cake should drop out of the pan onto the rack.  Cool completely, then drizzle with frosting.


Whisk together 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla to form a smooth, thick frosting.  Drizzle it over the cake.

Yield:  1 Bundt cake

Having recipes on hand that perform double duty during the holidays is especially helpful, which is one reason I created this month’s for Cinnamon Ribbon Apple Cake. Moist and tender, with a drizzle of frosting, this easy Bundt cake is perfect for dessert, but it also makes a tasty breakfast treat for the family, and it’s company-ready when friends drop by in the afternoon. When covered, it stays fresh on the kitchen counter for several days, and for make-ahead convenience, this light and fluffy cake holds up well in the freezer.

Apples and cinnamon naturally go together, so one of the things I love is the ribbon of cinnamon that ripples through the cake’s center. This delicate, spicy cinnamon-and-sugar ribbon complements the apples without overwhelming the cake’s buttery, vanilla flavor. When selecting apples, purchase crisp varieties such as Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Braeburn, or even Gala which won’t dissolve into applesauce during baking. When I bake this cake in the mountains, however, Granny Smith apples are not a good choice because the cake will finish baking before the apples soften.

I received my first Bundt pan as a gift from my mother when we were shopping on the square in Bonham, Texas, many years ago, and it’s still the one I use. Bundt cakes have surged in popularity recently in an exciting array of shapes for every occasion. Still, it’s the sweet memory of a mother-daughter afternoon of shopping and an unexpected gift from a kitchen shop that will always make this holiday recipe extra special for me. Happy Thanksgiving!

Christy Rost

Public television chef Christy Rost is the author of three cookbooks and a longtime resident of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. For additional recipes and entertaining tips, please visit or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ChristyRost.

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