Saturday, November 15, 2008

National Bundt Pan Day

It may seem rather odd to be celebrating a cake pan but indeed, that's just what is planned for today. So why all of this hullabaloo over a cake pan? There are those who would claim, "It's unique!" I agree. There is a certain amount of peerlessness to its form. But, basically, a Bundt Pan is simply a round baking pan with a tube in the middle. It has fluted decorative sides which add to the charm of the finished Bundt Cake. That's pretty much it. Perhaps, it is the cake that embellishes the cake pan. Not really, the difference between bundt cakes and regular cakes is not so much in the ingredients as in the form. Bundt cakes have pretty much the same ingredients as ordinary cakes. They are usually prepared from rich cake recipes such as pound cake or butter cake.

The Bundt Pan

You all should know by now I can't just post a few recipes for National Bundt Day. Of course not, I must delve into the history of this unusually popular ring shaped pan. Yes, dear visitors, this pan has a scorching history. Well, maybe not scorching:) It seems the Bundt pan was invented for Nordic Ware by a man named H. David Dalquist with the help of his wife Dorothy (Dottie.) Actually, in 1946, H. David Dalquist started the company known as Nordic Ware which is a division of Northland Aluminum Prods., Inc.

Nordic Ware is a family-owned, American manufacturer of kitchenware products founded in 1946. From our home office in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we have marketed an extensive line of quality cookware, bakeware, microwave and barbecue products for the last 60-plus years...Nordic Ware's first products were ethnic bakeware products such as our Rosette Iron, Ebleskiver Pan and Krumkake Iron. An innovative manufacturer and marketer, Nordic Ware is best known for its Bundt Pan. Today, there are nearly 60 million Bundt pans in kitchens across America.

As is the case with many of these products and debuts discussed, there are a few discrepancies as to the origin of the bundt pan. For instance, the way the story was explained by Marcy Goldman in a Wahington Post article quite a few years ago, Dalquist was a WWII veteran who on his return to Minnesota was an accomplished engineer. He started a small company, Northland Aluminum Products in the basement of his home. As Dalquist honed his skills, he borrowed $500 and began to branch out into the field of bake ware with such products as rosette irons, ebelskiver pans, and other Scandinavian bakeware. He sold these items through mail order and speciality magazines. He translated the beginnings of the bundt pan story to the Washington Post editor something like this...

One day a trio of "very nice ladies" from the local Hadassah chapter of Minneapolis approached him. They described a handmade ceramic baking mold that the chapter's president had inherited from her European grandmother. The ladies explained that it was used to make bundkuchens, party or gathering cakes. It was round and scrolled and like several other European baking pans had a tube running up the center. They wanted him to make such a pan in metal. After the pan was made, he added it to his line of Nordic Ware and the rest as they say is history...

There was also a story printed in the New York Times in 2005 about how the Bundt Pan came to be.

In the early 1950's, Rose Joshua, married and living in Minneapolis, gathered a few of her friends from the local Hadassah and paid a visit to H. David Dalquist. The mission? To recreate her mother's bundkuchen, a dense coffeecake popular in her native Germany. The cake was traditionally made in either a fragile ceramic dish, which she called a "bund pan," or an impossibly heavy cast-iron one...He cast the pan in aluminum, his son, David, said, and refined its Old World shape by alternating large scallops with small flutes. The elegant design was the cake's decoration, no frosting necessary, and guided even the clumsiest hostess on where to cut the slices. Dalquist added a "t" to "bund" - that's how the German pronunciation sounded to him - and trademarked the Bundt pan.

The baking pan the "ladies" brought to Dalquist was probably a Kugelhupf pan. Gugelhupf or Kugelhupf is a southern German, Austrian, Swiss and Alsatian term for a type of cake which consists of a soft yeast dough with raisins and almonds in it. The pan is also used to make a Yom Kippur favorite, Bundt Noodle Kugel.

There's a wonderful article about the history of tube cake pans over at American Heritage Baking. The website also includes a sweet surprise. Here's a taste:

Although Dalquist’s “Bundt” moniker was new, his pan was not a great novelty. Other American companies had been producing attractive, tubed metal and ceramic pans and molds since the nineteenth century. (Depending on their intended use and specific shape, the earlier fancy “spouted” forms were variously called baba cake molds, turban or turk’s-head pans, fluted pans, pudding molds, jelly molds, etc.) The Wagner Manufacturing Company, a major American cookware and bake-ware company based in Sidney, Ohio, had been selling quality fluted metal cake pans that were similar to the Bundt pan for decades.

The Bundt Cake

The popularity of the Bundt (Pronounced: "Bunt") cake really took off in the 1960s when the "Tunnel of Fudge Cake” recipe won second-prize in the 17th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1966. The Tunnel of Fudge Cake recipe was created by a woman from Texas by the name of Ella Rita Helfrich. "The recipe mysteriously develops a “tunnel of fudge” filling as it bakes." Ella won $5,000 as a runner up in the contest. The original recipe for "Tunnel of Fudge Cake" called for a dry frosting mix which Pillsbury no longer sells. If you really wanted to try the recipe, I'm sure you could use any dry frosting mix. There is also a revised recipe available at this PDF file which also has much information about the journey of the Bundt Cake.

Bundt Cakes are fun to bake. They are only limited by the imagination and the shape of the pan you use, which today can be almost any shape or design. Anita from Dessert First was a judge at the Bundt Cake contest in 2007 and her blog has the winning entries for you to get some ideas. I have also included a few links for Mini Bundt Cake recipes below. Personally, I think Nordic Ware should consider a contest just for minis. One always feels special when presented with a treasure especially when it feels like it is baked just for Moi' Kids love them too, and although I don't think a mini bundt cake could ever replace cupcakes:) there is a fashionable tone to them. For those who would prefer not to use a cake mix, a rich pound cake or butter recipe cake will produce a fine bundt cake. The most important thing to remember when baking a bundt cake is to grease the pan in all its nooks and crannies. For more information about using a Bundt pan, check out Baking with Bundt® Pans at about.com. Not to be left out of the Bundt Cake Frenzy that should be getting off to a new start, I am including this recipe for Chocolate Pocket of Peanuts Cake from a small Pillsbury leaflet published in 1980. I realize the recipe calls for a Pillsbury Bundt Cake Mix but I thought I would include it for a bit of nostalgia:)

Resources & Recipes
1. Nordic Ware's "Bundts Across America"
2. Dr. Oetker Lava Cakes
3. Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes
4. Blueberry Cocoa Mini Bundt Cakes (vegan recipe)
5. Mini-Bundt Coconut Tea Cakes with Cardamom & Rum Cream Glaze
6. Mini Almond Bundt Cakes (from Martha Stewart)
7. Cranberry & Almond Bundt Cakes (from fine cooking)
8. Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes
9. Carrot Bundt Cake
10. Southern Angel's Favorite Bundt Cake Recipes
11. Tunnel of Apple-Love Spice Cake by Reeni 
12. Pear Pecan Cake with Lemon Glaze
13. Root Beer Bundt Cake 
14. Black & White Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache Drizzle