An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

The Good, the Bad, the Holiday Presents


Come Christmas Eve, every kid’s worst nightmare is that hidden within those beautifully wrapped boxes beneath the tree lie unspeakable evils. It may seem like such an exciting and fun time, but there is a darker, more horrible potential inside of each and every enticing package. The risk of receiving a pair of polka dot underwear from Grandma, or yet another itchy and embarrassing sweater from Aunt Gertrude. Bad gifts are inescapable, so you had better spend the night practicing your “thrilled” reaction, and plan your grateful speech to say thanks without sounding entirely phony.

We’ve all gotten gifts from hell, some more than others, and I’m sure the horror stories could keep us entertained until July. This year, the Hannukah fairies came a little bit early, and I received what many would probably shake their heads at and wonder, “who would give such a thing?” Nestled inside a thick layer of shiny wrapping paper lay a brand new, state of the art… Bundt pan. And the weirdest thing about this? I was genuinely ecstatic. No, really! Indeed, the pan had even been on my wish list! For most 19 year olds, I’m sure that this would have been yet another terribly unfortunately choice, but one kid’s itchy sweater is another’s treasure.

That lovely new pan didn’t stay clean and unseasoned for long. Within minutes of unwrapping my prize, it was full of batter and facing temperatures exceeding 300 degrees. What a welcome!

I knew what I wanted to make from the get-go. Craving something simple and sweet, it was only natural to whip up a basic chocolate cake, toss in a few chunks of bittersweet chocolate, and then douse the whole thing in Kahlua. Hating to ruin the design, those beautiful lines and ridges were difficult to cut into, but oh so worth it. That super-moist and slightly boozy slice reminded me what a joy even a plain old bundt can bring. So if you think about it, perhaps a new baking pan isn’t such a crazy thing to send to give as a gift… Especially if you’re around to snag a slice of the results for yourself!

Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

46 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, the Holiday Presents

  1. WOW…that’s a gorgeous bundt pan & you’vedone full justice to it’s beauty. Wonderful ridges & perfect cake. This would have been on my wish list too…happy holidays to you!

  2. The cake looks amazing (and the Kahlua is a great addition!).

  3. Personally, I think your bundt pan is a lovely gift. I would need to practise a thank you if I got one.:)

    Best wishes for the festive season and a Happy New Year.

  4. What a beautiful bundt pan. I love the design!

  5. Gorgeous pan! I love the design. Don’t feel weird…I put mini loaf pans, ramekins, and a microplane grater on my christmas list haha. Last year, I would have thought I’d gone crazy!

    Thanks for the information on the Matcha powder! I can’t wait to get it =)

  6. How pretty!

    My Christmas list was filled with such random things, like a mandolin slicer and mini tart tins!

  7. Love the pan! It makes a beautiful cake…and it sounds like it tastes delicious!

  8. I would have the same reaction you had. Great cake!

  9. Gorgeous! What an amazing design!

  10. That’s a pretty and detailed bundt pan! Do you use any special technique (other than greasing and flouring the pan) to keep it from sticking? I am loving the Wilton’s cake release product but it is relatively new to me – I don’t know if it is vegan or not. I like your idea to immediately make a chocolate and Kahlua cake. Yum! Now THAT’s a good way to celebrate a new pan. Happy Hanukkah, Hannah. :)

  11. That pan is beautiful! And hey, I asked for a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. :) Not the typical 21 year old gift…

  12. what a lovely pan! i asked for a donut pan for christmas ;)

  13. I have that one! I got it as a Christmas gift a couple of years back and I love it. My mom knew I wanted to go to culinary school for pastry arts and so that year she bought me several. ^-^

    Your cake looks delish!

  14. One can NEVER go wrong with a simple and (bitter)sweet cake ;-)

  15. What a cute bundt! ;0)

  16. Wow that’s a bunndt pan! All I’ve asked for this year is a marble rolling pin and re-usable baking sheets.

  17. That really IS state-of-the-art! I love bundts and don’t use mine (which is an ancient design!) nearly enough. Your cake is gorgeous–I bet it tasted heavenly! Happy Hannukah!

  18. What a wonderful present! I would have been trilled too! And kalhua is awakening my senses! Hmmm, yum!

  19. Oh man, when I was 17, I got a paper shredder and a blender for Christmas. Best day of my life. Of course, no one else could understand why I was so happy.

  20. That’s one gorgeous boozy cake Hannah! I have the same Bundt pan and love it!

    Happy Chanukah!

  21. i too would be eternally grateful for any kitchen supplies for christmas!! this year i asked for workout videos! who asks for stuff like that??? only the weirdos like us! enojoy your whole holiday week!

  22. I have that bundt pan and think it looks so sophisticated! And so does your boozy version!

  23. Nice! I always like how the cake turns out so nice using a bundt pan. You can never go wrong with a basic chocolate cake.

  24. I am so jealous of your bunt pan’s design! Very pretty. I’m also glad to discover that I’m not the only one who gets excited over bunt pans, or any kind of thing that may be used for baking for that matter..
    One I’ve been eyeing is this snowflake pan.
    Very festive. =)

  25. wow, what a neat design and what a lovely gift.

  26. I also received a new bundt pan for Hannukah! Kahluah cake, yum!

  27. A beautiful cake cake out of your new Bundt pan, nice present :-)

    And Happy Chanukah, Hannah

  28. I was the same way at your age as well. I wanted things like Bundt pans. :)

  29. I would have had the same reaction – what a gorgeous looking cake that pan made!!

  30. I am in love with that pan – just saw it in Nigella’s jelly post too! Gorgeous slice of cake too:)! Happy Hannukah/X’Mas and happy holidays, Hannah!

  31. umm, that sounds amazing :) and love the bundt pan!!

  32. I’m like you–a new bundt pan would have me excited as well! We just had Christmas early with my parents and they gave me a Le Creuset dutch oven…I’m over the moon! (But most people are probably scratching their heads about why I am!) Happy Holidays!

  33. That bundt pan is beautiful! I never thought I would contemplate one to replace mine… hmmmm… This reminds me I have to make bundt cake for the “in-laws” this year.

  34. Wow, what a beautiful bundt!

  35. Wow, it looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  36. I think it actually looks elegant and delicious all at the same time. Good Job!

  37. Yay for getting what you want! My family has resorted to buying our own gifts and billing and each other, haha. I love your cake creation, it’s so beautiful.

  38. Hannah-
    What a lovely cake! Vegan-baker-geeks unite! I actually asked for a cake pan (and other cooking wear) for the holidays as well- did you go with William Sonoma because I heard they’re pricey but worth the quality… P.S. what are your favorite recipes, family favorites or ones your recormend to impress a crowd of onmivores? Thanks! =]

  39. Gorgeous, but who gave you the Kahula, Miss 19 year old?!

  40. That is beautiful… Nordic Ware makes the best bundt pans.

  41. Haha.. that bundt pan is so much cooler than an itchy sweater. I love the design. Now I am wanting to eat cake…

  42. I’ve just opened a hachoir and mezzaluna set from my parents :D

  43. For those that are interested, the pan used to make this cake is likely NordicWare’s “Bavaria Bundt” pan from their ProCast Bakeware series. It’s an excellent pan–I just had to go track one down after reading this post!

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