One of America’s Favorites – Bundt Cake

July 6, 2015 at 5:03 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A partially-sliced Bundt cake

A partially-sliced Bundt cake

A Bundt cake /bʌnt/ is a cake that is baked in a Bundt pan, shaping it into a distinctive ring shape. The shape is inspired by a traditional European cake known as Gugelhupf, but Bundt cakes are not generally associated with any single recipe. The style of mold in North America was popularized in the 1950s and 60s, after cookware manufacturer Nordic Ware trademarked the name “Bundt” and began producing Bundt pans from cast aluminum. Publicity from Pillsbury saw the cakes gain widespread popularity.

 

 

The Bundt cake derives in part from a European brioche-like cake called Gugelhupf which was particularly popular among Jewish communities in parts of Germany, Austria and Poland. In the north of Germany Gugelhupf is traditionally known as Bundkuchen (German pronunciation: [ˈbʊntkuːxn]), a name formed by joining the two words Kuchen (cake) and Bund.

Opinions differ as to the significance of the word Bund. One possibility is that it means “bunch” or “bundle”, and refers to the way the dough is bundled around the tubed center of the pan. Another source suggests that it describes the banded appearance given to the cake by the fluted sides of the pan, similar to a tied sheaf or bundle of wheat. Some authors have suggested that Bund instead refers to a group of people, and that Bundkuchen is so called because of its suitability for parties and gatherings.

Uses of the word “bund” to describe cakes outside of Europe can be found in Jewish-American cookbooks from around the start of the 20th century. The alternative spelling “bundte” also appears in a recipe as early as 1901.

 

 

Bundt-style pans in silicone and metal

Bundt-style pans in silicone and metal

Bundt cakes do not conform to any single recipe; instead their characterizing feature is their shape. A Bundt pan generally has fluted or grooved sides, but its most defining design element is the central tube or “chimney” which leaves a cylindrical hole through the center of the cake. The design means that more of the mixture touches the surface of the pan than in a simple round pan, helping to provide faster and more even heat distribution during cooking. The shape is similar to that of the earlier European Gugelhupf or Bundkuchen. A Gugelhupf differs from contemporary Bundt-style cakes in that it follows a particular yeast-based recipe, with fruit and nuts, and is often deeper in shape and more decorative. Also similar in shape is the Eastern European Babka, dating from early 18th century Poland. While Bundt cake is associated with Jewish culture, Babka is firmly set in Christian tradition and is traditionally baked for Christmas and Easter. Today, there is no recipe for “Bundt cake”. Anything can be baked in a Bundt-style pan, and is. Recipes range from Pine Nut and Chili cakes to ice cream and fruit concoctions. And, Bundt-style pan design has expanded beyond the original fluted ring to today’s designs of skylines, octopus and cathedrals, all with the requisite hole in the center of the pan made by Nordic Ware and others. Since a toroidal cake is rather difficult to frost, Bundt cakes are typically either dusted with powdered sugar, drizzle-glazed, or served undecorated. Recipes specifically designed for Bundt pans often have a baked-in filling; Bundt pound cakes are also common.

Since the name “Bundt” was originally a trademark, similar pans are often sold as “fluted tube pans” or given other similar descriptive titles. The trademark holder Nordic Ware only produces Bundt pans in aluminum, but similar fluted pans are available in other materials. However, the term “Bundt” is not a valid trademark in the United States, having been rejected by the U.S. Trademark Office as a “generic” term.

 

 

Rainbow Bundt cake, partially sliced

Rainbow Bundt cake, partially sliced

The people credited with popularizing the Bundt cake are American businessman H. David Dalquist and his brother Mark S. Dalquist[citation needed], who co-founded cookware company Nordic Ware based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. In the late 1940s, Rose Joshua and Fannie Schanfield, friends and members of the Minneapolis Jewish-American Hadassah Society approached Dalquist asking if he could produce a modern version of a traditional cast iron Gugelhupf dish. Dalquist and company engineer Don Nygren designed a cast aluminum version which Nordic Ware then made a small production run of in 1950. In order to successfully trademark the pans, a “t” was added to the word “Bund”. A number of the original Bundt pans now reside in the Smithsonian collection.

Initially, the Bundt pan sold so poorly that Nordic Ware considered discontinuing it. The product received a boost when it was mentioned in the New Good Housekeeping Cookbook in 1963, but did not gain real popularity until 1966, when a Bundt cake called the “Tunnel of Fudge”, baked by Ella Helfrich, took second place at the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off and won its baker $5,000. The resulting publicity resulted in more than 200,000 requests to Pillsbury for Bundt pans and soon led to the Bundt pan surpassing the tin Jell-O mold as the most-sold pan in the United States. In the 1970s Pillsbury licensed the name Bundt from Nordic Ware and for a while sold a range of Bundt cake mixes.

To date more than 60 million Bundt pans have been sold by Nordic Ware across North America.

 

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