Bundts on the Brain…

October 1, 2012 7:06 pm in Bolton and Wigan, Features by Rachel McGrath

My name is Rachel… and I’m a Bundt-o-holic…

Pear Drops Bundt Cake

Pear Drops Bundt Cake

On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the annual gathering of the Clandestine Cake Club organisers in Leeds. Fully appreciating my passion for all things bundt, Lynn kindly asked me to do a talk to the group. At the time I was busy planning my trip to the USA, and nonchalantly thought ‘ooh, that sounds like fun!’

Fast forward two weeks to Saturday 29th September. I’m jet lagged and nervous as hell fire. Despite being surrounded by a very supportive and nurturing audience, I am quite frankly bricking it. I am about to speak to a room packed with cake enthusiasts and experts. Hands-a-shaking, cheeks-a-burning and notes in hand I found myself excitedly telling my new found friends all about the wonders of bundt. It went a little something like this…

Where the Obsession Began

A few years ago I suffered with horrendous tension headaches. My doctor kindly prescribed ‘relaxation’. What pearls of wisdom. I’d enjoyed baking for years, but never made quite enough time for it. Not one for half measures, I started baking in huge quantities an attempt to rid myself of the headache’s vice-like grip. Who needs painkillers? The process of baking meant that I was thinking about the method rather than worrying about rubbish. The finished goods made other people happy which in turn gave me a great sense of satisfaction. Batches of 40-60 muffins were not unusual.

Last Christmas I finally got bored of making biscuits and muffins, and decided to make something a little more festive. I found a recipe for a cinnamon ring cake. Cinnamon and I are firm friends and it reminded me of a wreath, so off I trot. I couldn’t find the right sized tin, and ended up with a bundt style one entirely by accident. And so the pain began. Could I get that bugger out fully intact? Close but no cigar. The air was blue – both in my kitchen and on Twitter. After about five attempts and an amended recipe, I was there. Bundt perfection. I was elated. I had an affinity with the bundt. I understood its behaviour. I knew what it was thinking…

Lots of people were following my plight on Twitter, and my friend Susan asked me to do a guest post on her blog to document how I got it just right. She also ran a branch of the Clandestine Cake Club, which was always a bit far over the Lancashire border. That’s when the Bolton club was born. I had a new hobby, cake club and now a blog. I haven’t had any free time since!

Dollybakes' Signature Bundt - Matilda

Dollybakes’ Signature Bundt – Matilda

It was at this point that I started to collect Nordic Ware tins. I love these cakes because they are the ultimate sharing cake; huge, pretty, tasty and perfect for cake club.

The History of the Bundt

This is one of my favourite stories ever. I’m a total history geek, so I have been reading about the origin of bundts as long as I’ve been baking them.

Early 1900s: Ring shaped cakes were popular amongst the bakers of central Europe, probably for the same reasons we love them today. They make a large cake, the hole increases the surface area meaning they bake faster, they’re versatile and are easily cut into many slices. These cakes were often referred to as Bundkuchen, Gugelhopf, Gugelhuf or Kugelhopf. Each country or region had its own variety, often based around a heavy sponge or sometimes a yeasted dough. All had one thing in common. They had a hole in the middle.

1946: David and Dotty Dalquist start making bakeware at their home in Minneapolis – mainly simple pans and irons.

1950: The president of the Minneapolis Women’s Hadassah Society (a Jewish women’s volunteer group) asked David to replicate a beautiful fluted kugelhof pan she was given by her grandmother in Germany. He made the pan and called it a ‘bund’ which translated from German to English as gathering or confederation. He then trademarked the name, adding a ‘t’ to the end, and mass produced the tins under the company name of Nordic Ware. The bundt was born! (So the modern bundt is any shaped tin manufactured by Nordic Ware, and no, not all of them have a hole in the middle these days!)

1966: Everything changes. The American baking super-power, Pillsbury hold their 17th National Bake Off. A lady called Ella Helfrich wins second place with her Tunnel of Fudge Bundt cake. Americans go wild! Pillsbury get over 200,000 requests for bundt tin suppliers.

1977: Pillsbury and Nordic Ware join forces to become a bundt power-house. Pillsbury supply a range of pre-packaged bundt cake mixes especially for use in Nordic Ware tins. Bundts take off in a big way! Nordic Ware estimate that there are about 60 million bundt tins in circulation in America today. That’s nearly one for every household (with many likely to be in collections of fanatics like me!)

Present Day: Over the past ten months I have been making bundts like they are going out of fashion. I’ve also seen a huge increase in the number of suppliers, imitations, people mentioning them on the internet and seeing them on TV. Just last week the Great British Bake Off saw one being used as the show stopper cake. I can only imagine that their popularity will continue to rise, especially as we get closer to Christmas.

Best of British Apples Bundt

Best of British Apples Bundt

My Hints and Tips

I have been the one turning the air blue to save you the bother…

  1. Use good quality, heavy duty tins.
  2. Grease and flour the tin really well. Use plenty of flour and tap the excess out over the sink.
  3. Spoon the mix into the tin rather than pour in one go. This gets it into the nooks and crannies!
  4. Push the mix to the edges and tease it up the sides.
  5. Never fill the tin more than 3/4 full.
  6. Always bake in the middle of the oven. If in doubt, Gas 3/165 C for at least 1 hour.
  7. Use an oven thermometer.
  8. If it’s not shrinking from the sides of the tin slightly, put it back in until it does.
  9. An inserted skewer should be clean (a toothpick isn’t long enough…)
  10. Leave it to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out. If your mix is still losing bits, try letting it cool fully next time. I have a couple of recipes that require this special treatment…
  11. Fill the hot tin with warm soapy water and leave to soak until the grease has loosened (or in my case, until my husband washes it!)

I’ve loved looking at all the bundts you have made since Saturday. Some of you have had huge success already! Inspired by that, I have created a new blogger challenge especially for National Bundt Day on 15th November 2012. Click on the link for more information: National Bundt Day UK.

There are lots of recipes on my blog at www.dollybakes.co.uk and I’m more than happy to answer your questions on Twitter @dollybakes or via email dollybakes@gmail.com.