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Cook the Book: Tunnel of Fudge Cake, Plus a Brief History of the Bundt Pan

The Bundt pan was invented in the 1950s by a man named H. David Dalquist. The pan was based on a traditional ceramic dish with a similar ringed shape. Though Dalquist's version was lighter and easier to use than the clunky previous version, sales were disappointing.

Then, in 1966, a woman named Ella Helfrich took second place in the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off with her recipe for Tunnel of Fudge Cake. The walnut-filled, chocolate-glazed cake had a ring of gooey fudge at its center. Eating a slice was reminiscent of indulging in under-baked brownie batter. Helfrich's cake was an overnight sensation. Pillsbury received more than 200,000 requests for the pan she used, and Dalquist's company went into overtime production. Today, more than 50 million Bundt pans have been sold around the world.

Today's recipe, excerpted from The Cook's Country Cookbook, is for an updated version of the classic Tunnel of Fudge Cake. The bakers at America's Test Kitchen made two dozen cakes before arriving at this rendition, which includes melted chocolate in the batter, and swaps half of the granulated sugar for brown sugar.

When testing this cake for doneness, do not insert a toothpick (the tunnel of fudge will always look underdone). Instead, look to see if the sides are beginning to pull away from the pan. When pressed, the top of the cake should feel springy.

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