So you may be wondering…what exactly *is* a Bundt cake? Is the pan used the same as a tube pan? Why is there a hole in the middle, and does it really make a difference? These are good questions, and I hope I can do them justice below.
Simply put, a Bundt cake is a cake that is baked in a fluted tube pan, usually called a Bundt pan. If this doesn’t help clarify things, I’m not surprised since those words may be simple, but put together they may sound nonsensical to the casual or non-baker. So even MORE simply, let me break it down: not all tube pans are the same. Bundt cakes are baked in specific fluted pans that are heavy, often made of cast iron, are non-stick, and have bumps and ridges in specific patterns along the insides from the bottom to the top of the pan. When cakes bake in a fluted Bundt pan, they take on the reverse image of whatever pattern is on the pan. The designs on these pans range from the super simple to the sublimely complex.
Tube pans are somewhat different in that they are made of light aluminum, are not nonstick, and have an often separate base attached to a hollow tube running through the centre that helps to distribute heat to the centre of the cake. These particular pans are most often used for making delicate Angel Food and chiffon cakes, which would slump and fail without having this heat distribution since they cannot be in the oven long enough to fully bake the centre without drying out and burning the rest of the cake.
In comparison, Bundt cakes are usually dense and rich confections of butter, eggs and sugar, as opposed to light and airy like a chiffon cake; to that end, pound cakes work very well in Bundt pans. I’ve even made fruit cakes in a Bundt pan, which worked out very well indeed.
Bundt cakes normally get the “low and slow” treatment in the oven, so they can bake all the way through without burning the outer edges. As mentioned above, the pans themselves are often heavy cast metal, which lend themselves excellently to radiating heat throughout the cake evenly, although because of their weight and thickness, it takes a while for them to heat up. Hence “low and slow”.
One of the best methods for ensuring that when you do un-mould your cooled cake, it comes out in one piece, is to use a baker’s pan release (also known as cake release). I tend to make my own, which is a simple procedure; just simply combine equal parts all purpose flour, vegetable oil, and vegetable shortening. Blend them well together, and store the mixture in an airtight container (a Mason jar works very well for this) in the fridge. When you’re ready to use it, dip a pastry brush in and coat the inside of your Bundt pan liberally; really make sure to get into all the cracks and crevices to ensure your final product is as perfect a reflection of the Bundt pan you are using.
Following are links to some of my favourite recipes using Bundt pans; let me know if you’ve used one of these recipes before, are are just giving it a go now, and how your creation worked out!
- Martha Stewart’s glorious Chocolate Bundt Cake is a treat to eat, and as easy to bake as any regular cake.
- Just in time for the colder weather is the scrumptious Ginger Spice Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Sauce by Canadian Living Magazine, which sounds as though it would be a hit at any holiday party!
- Food Network has a fantastic and fun Red Velvet Cream Cheese Bundt Cake whose vivid carmine tint hides a cool and creamy centre…YUM!!!
- The Canadian baker and food blogger Liv of Liv for Cake (go fellow Canuck!!) has an amazing-looking and fun recipe for Rocky Road Bundt Cake…this is knock-it-out-of-the-park beautiful!
- Sometimes, simple is best. My favourite Quebeçois chef and lifestyle guru, Ricardo, posts a deceptively simple Vanilla Bundt Cake recipe on his website (www.ricardocuisine.com) that is out of this world good. The best part about the recipe is it’s so versatile; as long as the same ratio of dry ingredients to fats to liquids is kept, you can virtually make this plain Bundt Cake into any flavour you want. So delicious!
- Jessica Merchant, avid cook, baker, blogger extraordinaire, and author of popular cookbook, “Seriously Delish”, writes in her blog How Sweet It Is of a glorious creation called a Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Glaze. I want this cake. In my face. All of it.
- Fun and funny blogger, Kita, over at Pass the Sushi, has developed a yummy recipe for Banana-Nut Pound Cake with Maple Crown Royal Sauce, which I’m going to try once I find some Maple flavoured Crown Royal. I may have to sub with actual maple syrup…but I’m totally ok with this!
- And what about this fun and delicious Raspberry Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake, where accomplished bakers at the Canadian Living Test Kitchen paired up with Lavazza, the espresso maker, to create a cake recipe that paired well with coffee?
- Last but not least, the incredibly talented cookbook author and foodie Sally from website Sally’s Baking Addiction has a divine Chocolate Cream Cheese Bundt Cake that I can’t wait to try one day, when I’m not on a diet. (Wahhhhh…)
This collection only scratches the surface of all of the myriad recipes that can be made using a Bundt pan and a little ingenuity. Just remember: with every Bundt cake you make, a fairy gets its wings!*
*not an actual fact