Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake
November 15: National Bundt Pan Day
Most homestyle bakers have a bundt in their cake pan collection. Islander has ta few—a fancy pineapple-design form and two mini bundt pans—but she borrows a basic one from her brother. The round, ridged mold with a hole in the middle gives cakes a distinctive shape.
The bundt pan evolved from the Viennese kugelhopf. Austrians and Germans who immigrated to North America brought their baking traditions—and ring-shaped pans—with them. The word “bund” translates to “community” or “a gathering of people;” hence, the round pan shape for cakes that were meant to be shared during coffee or tea time. The first reference to a recipe for bundt kuchen was found in the turn-of-the-20th-century “Milwaukee Settlement Cookbook.”
Nordic Ware adapted the design to make a bundt pan at the request of members of the Hadassah Society, an American Jewish volunteer women’s organization. The company trademarked the pan in 1950, but sales were slow. A decade later, “Good Housekeeping Cookbook” featured a pound cake recipe baked in a bundt. In 1966, after a “Tunnel of Fudge” bundt cake recipe won second place at a Pillsbury Bake-Off, the bundt became the best-selling cake pan in America!
Nordic Ware and other companies continue to make classic and creative bundt pans in different designs, shapes and sizes. In 2007, some of the original Nordic Ware bundt pans became part of the museum exhibits at the Smithsonian Institute.
Pillsbury licensed the bundt name in 1970 for its line of cake mixes, which are not available as of this post. But we made a version (see Notes) of the Tunnel of Fudge bundt cake to observe National Bundt Pan Day.
For the Tunnel of Fudge cake
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar, granulated white
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 ¾ cup flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
- 1 tub chocolate fudge frosting (we used Pillsbury brand)
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and blend well. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder. Using a spatula, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix by hand. Fold in the nuts. Generously grease the sides of the bundt pan with vegetable shortening or cooking spray just before adding the batter in it.
Place half the batter into the pan. Spoon a thin ring of the fudge frosting in the middle of the batter, being careful not to let it touch the inner and outer sides of the bundt pan. Place the remaining batter on both sides of the fudge frosting and on top. Smooth it out. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour or until the edges of the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the bundt pan. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about two hours. Invert onto a wire rack over a foil-lined lipped pan to cool completely. Prepare the glaze.
For the chocolate glaze
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa powder/unsweetened cocoa
- 6-8 teaspoons milk
In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the cocoa. Stir in the milk until it is smooth and has a drizzle-like consistency.
Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze on top of the bundt cake, letting it drip down the sides. Transfer to a cake platter, slice and serve.
- The original Tunnel of Fudge cake recipe included powdered fudge frosting mix, but Pillsbury has discontinued the product. Since the 1966 bake-off, the company has modified the recipe. The fudge from the tunnel is basically the undercooked batter, which is similar to a molten chocolate or lava cake.
- Other companies, such as Nordic Ware (makers of the bundt pan and a Tunnel of Fudge cake mix) and Sof’Ella, make bundt cake mixes.
- When we previously attempted to make a Tunnel of Fudge cake, it crumbled when released from the bundt pan (not greased enough) and it did not have fudge oozing out of the tunnel (overbaked). We also modified the recipe by following the concept of filled cupcakes (such as Betty Crocker brand FUN da-Middles). Half the batter is poured into the pan, a syrup filling is squeezed in the middle, then the remaining batter covers the filling before baking.
- Thanks to Islander’s brother for letting us borrow his basic bundt pan for this Tunnel of Fudge cake recipe.
- Thanks to Lisa L. who gifted Islander with the adorable “aloha” bundt pan.
- Search our blog for recipes of other cakes baked in bundt pans.