Dec 28, 201202:23 PMFood & Dining
Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought
A Bundt In the Oven
In early November, I had privledge to travel to Bavaria, Germany where I stayed in a guesthouse owned by a friend's college host family.
During the course of our week there, we were treated to many culinary delights, including a Brotzeit, which is a buffet of German meats and cheeses.
On another evening, we were invited to dessert and coffee at a dear neighbor's house. She laid out a spread of three beautiful desserts, including pasty shells with cream, and a large cake filled with pudding. At the end of the table was a lemon Bundt cake, which piqued my curiousity.
Quiet, unassuming, and less flashy than the other desserts, its peaks dusted with sugar like noble mountaintops, it was the last thing on the table I tried. But in the flavor and texture department, the lemon Bundt was the unexpected winner.
The non-pretentious dessert was moist and lemony and it went great with coffee. It was easy to eat, since the moist slices shaved off conveniently and plopped onto one’s fork or fingers with no breakage. I knew I would have to try to replicate this dessert when I came back from vacation.
When I came back to the United States, I surfed the internet, found a recipe, and made a lemon Bundt cake for Thanksgiving.
I was in a hurry and didn't decorate it lavishly. Quietly it sat on the side of the dessert buffet, waiting its turn as an offering for the guests. I wondered if people would like it, but I knew it was a hit as quickly and quietly, it disappeared from the table. There was none left.
I became curious about the origins of this culinary delight. I always associated Bundt cakes with kitschy 70's cooking, which, unfortunately, meant I unfairly gave this form of baked good little respect. Actually the origins go back a little bit further and the cake deserves a lot more respect, which I will explain further.
The Bundt cake is derived from a fruit cake called Gugelhupf which was popular with Jewish communities in Germany, Austria and Poland. The cake was taller but was round with an empty center.
In Germany they called the cake Bundkuchen. “Bund” may refer to a bunch or bundle, referring to the way the dough is shaped around the pan or may refer to a group of people, according to the German meaning of the word, because the cake is especially suitable for gatherings of people and parties.
In about 1950, cookware company owner H. David Dalquist, created the Bundt pan in response to a Jewish-American group’s request for a Gugelhupf style pan. The pan was not popular and the company considered discontinuing it.
However, in the sixties, the Bundt pan was featured in the Good Housekeeping Cookbook and in 1963 a Bundt cake won second place at the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off.
After that, the popularity increased so dramatically, the Bundt pan became the highest selling pan in the United States.
I have vague memories of polaroid seventies cookbooks and my mother’s dinner parties with outlandishly flavored Bundt cakes. I don’t know if these are actual memories or memories fabricated from old magazines and sitcoms.
In any event, I never respected the Bundt cake simply because I remembered it being from the 70's. And, for the following reasons, I have decided that is simply not warranted.
The shape of the Bundt pan and open center means that the cake cooks quicker and more evenly. I made the cake in a pinch on Christmas morning, and the modest 35 minute cook time meant that the oven was not monopolized.
The cake is easily portable. The slices are easy to cut and easy for children’s fingers to carry and grasp. You can eat it with a fork or grab it to go in a napkin along with your travel coffee mug for the car.
The cake is easy to frost. You can simply dust it with powdered sugar, drip a slurry of confectioner’s sugar over top, or properly frost and fill if you choose. If you do frost it, the cake does not take a lot of frosting and imperfections look downright artistic when draped over its stylish curves.
You can make a Bundt cake in any flavor or style that you want. You can even fill them with pudding!
On Christmas night, I was attending, most appropriately, a 70's fondue party at my neighbor’s house. I was eager to use the recently found vintage orange fondue pot and I figured the Bundt cake would fit in perfectly. In my rush to get out the door Christmas morning, I had not properly oiled the pan, and alas, a small portion of the Bundt cake stuck to the top. But armed with a generous jar of frosting I reassembled it into a work of art.
No more disrespect from me. The Bundt cake has treated me well and I from henceforth, plan on giving the noble versatile cake all the respect it deserves!
Lemon Bundt Cake
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) of butter, softened.
1 cup butter milk
2 Tbs finely grated lemon zest.
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- Grease and flour Bundt pan.
- Combine sugar and warmed butter and beat on medium.
- Add eggs.
- Mix dry ingredients separately, and then add buttermilk and dry ingredients alteratively to sugar mixture.
- Beat in lemon zest and juice.
- Cook in a preheated oven, 350 degrees, about 30 minutes.