In the American Century Cookbook, Jean Anderson offers a description of how the American bundt pan came to be: “In 1950, a group of Minneapolis women, members of Hadassah, approached Nordic Products owner H. David Dalquist and asked him to make an aluminum version of the cast-iron kugelhopf pan common in Europe. Obligingly, he made a few for the members and a few extra for the public. Not many of these fluted pans sold until ten years later when the new Good Housekeeping Cookbook showed a pound cake that had been baked in one of them. Suddenly every woman wanted a pan just like it.
What really put the Bundt pan on the culinary map of America, however, was the Tunnel of Fudge cake, which made the finals of the 1966 Pillsbury Bakeoff Contest. Bundt, by the way, is now a registered trademark of Northland Aluminum Products, Inc., Minneapolis. By 1972, the grand prize winner of the Pillsbury Bakeoff Contest was a Bundt Streusel Spice cake and eleven top winners also called for a Bundt pan; that same year Pillsbury sold $25 million worth of its new bundt cake mixes.”
Baking recipes often are based on simple mnemonic formulas that are easy to remember so that recipes can be passed down through the generations. Bundt cakes commonly fall into the 1-2-3-4 category: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs (plus 1 cup milk, a liquid component that sets both layer and Bundt cakes apart from pound cake). And most Bundt cakes follow the standard mixing technique of creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs, then alternating flour and liquid until the batter is combined. The secret to a good bundt cake is to cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Resist the temptation to reduce the beating because whipping aerates the batter, creating a light and even texture in the finished cake. This process will be much easier if you make sure your ingredients, especially the butter, are at room temperature before you begin.
Unlike a layer cake, which is held firmly together by frosting, a Bundt cake must be firm enough to remain intact when sliced and served. At the same time, it should be less rich and dense than the typical pound cake. The design of the pan allows Bundt cakes to remain attractive even when they stand alone without fancy fillings or embellishments.
As the following pictures indicate, I often decorate bundt cakes with fresh flowers. Check your local florist for a small frog that fits nicely into the center of the cake. It will hold the flowers in place and allow a little water to keep them fresh longer.
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