The Bundt pan was developed in the 1950s by H. David Dalquist. His version was lighter and easier to use than the traditional ceramic version, but sales were underwhelming.
Then in 1966, during the Pillsbury Bake-Off (a.k.a America’s most famous baking contest, in which the grand prize was $50,000 – in today’s standards, $1 million), Ella Helfrich entered her recipe for the Tunnel of Fudge Cake.
She came in second that year (the grand prize went to some yeasted snack made with flour, cream cheese and dry onion soup – HUH???) but Ella’s cake was an overnight sensation. As a result, the popularity of the Bundt pan sky-rocketed and Pillsbury was immediately swamped with more than 200,000 requests for it, and today, more than 50 million pans have been sold around the world.
The Tunnel of Fudge cake, apart from being a beauty, is a cake that is characterised by a chewy, brownie-edge-type exterior that gives way to a softer, chocolaty fudge-and-nut filling, very much like a decadent brownie batter.
And it is a breeze to make.
To begin, the butter and sugar were creamed together until the mixture became light and fluffy. This would take about 3-5 minutes.
At this stage, the eggs were added, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and the sides of the bowl were scrapped with a spatula, to ensure the eggs were evenly mixed.
While that was happening, I sifted the flour with the cocoa powder into one bowl, the icing sugar into another bowl, and also chopped the walnuts.
The icing sugar was added to the mixture, and thoroughly mixed in.
The bowl was removed from the mixer.
The flour/cocoa powder was added to the batter, a cup at a time, and using a wooden spoon, I folded that into the batter. It is important that you do this step by hand, and not use the machine!
Then the walnuts were added, and folded in using the wooden spoon.
This batter was then transferred into a greased Bundt pan, and the cake was baked for about 45-50 minutes, or until the top is set and the edges were beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. The toothpick test won’t work for this cake as the inside is supposed to be a little underdone and fudgey.
The cake was allowed to cool in the pan for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours before being transferred onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cake had cooled, I made the glaze. I sifted the icing sugar and cocoa powder, and gradually added the milk, and whisked until I achieved a pourable consistency.
All that was left was to pour the glaze over the cake, and allow it to set.
It really is a beautiful cake.
Tunnel of Fudge Cake (Serves 12-16)
Adapted from “The secret Lives of Baked Goods” by Jessie Oleson Moore
For the Cake
370g unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
6 large eggs
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
3/4 cups cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups walnuts (or pecans, or hazelnuts), chopped – don’t skimp on the nuts—they are key to the recipe
1. Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan (or 2 9×5-inch loaf pans).
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium high until fluffy—about 1 minute.
3. Add the caster sugar, and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating on low to combine, and then beat on medium high for 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer.
5. Using a wooden spoon, Gradually add the flour and fold until combined.
6. Add the nuts and fold until just combined.
7. Scrape batter into your prepared Bundt pan and smooth top.
8. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake starts to come away from the edges. The toothpick test won’t work for this cake as the inside is supposed to be a little underdone and fudgey.
9. Cool in pan, on wire rack until warm—about 1 ½ hours (let it cool the full amount of time).
10. Carefully unmold onto wire rack and let cool completely before glazing
For the Glaze
¾ cup icing sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ to 3 tablespoons milk of your choice
1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together into a small bowl.
2. Add the milk, whisking to combine. At first it seems like there isn’t enough milk—whisk completely before deciding to add more milk. The glaze should be thick but pourable.
3. Carefully the pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the glaze drip down both sides.