Thursday is not only National Bundt Day, it’s Minnesota Bundt Day. For real.
“We actually have an official proclamation from the governor from 10-plus years ago,” said Jenny Dalquist, Nordic Ware’s executive vice president of marketing and sales. “You know how food holidays have taken over, and there’s a day for everything? So why not Bundts? It’s fun, and every year it gains more traction.”
Nordic Ware has been manufacturing Bundt pans at its St. Louis Park factory for 73 years (“And we have no intention of making them anywhere else,” said Dalquist, a third-generation member of the family-owned company), and usually maintains about 100 different designs in its inventory at any given time, including this popular new beauty, the "Brilliance."
The company's past Bundt Day celebrations have incorporated social media contests of all sorts, from “Show us Your Bundt Collection” (“There are some crazed Bundt fanatics that you might call ‘hoarders,’” said Dalquist with a laugh) to “Most Beautiful Bundt Cakes.” This year’s theme is “Alternate Uses for Bundt Pans.”
“You know, roasting a chicken over the cone of a Bundt,” said Dalquist.
Participation is easy: Follow @nordiwareusa on Instagram, post an image of an “alternative #Bundt use including displays, decorations, art pieces, super creative savory and sweet recipe creations” — and don’t forget to use the hashtag #allaboutbundts. Post up until 11:59 Central Standard Time on Nov. 14. The winner will be announced on Nov. 15.
The top prize receives a $250 shop-a-thon on nordicware.com. Even better, it also includes a 2019 Bundt design that hasn’t been released to the public.
“It’ll be the very first pan off the line,” said Dalquist. “We’re really excited about this brand-new shape.”
No National (fill-in-the-blank) Day is worth celebrating without a few deals, and the upcoming 24 Hours of All Things Bundt is no exception.
Buy any cast Bundt bakeware item at nordicware.com on Nov. 15 and receive a Cinnamon Spice Bundt cake mix. Purchase a second cast Bundt bakeware item and received a free “Best of the Bundt” cookbook.
Those who shop at Nordic Ware's brick-and-mortar Factory Store (4925 County Road 25, St. Louis Park) on Nov. 15 and purchase a cast aluminum Bundt pan will receive either a free Gourmet Bundt Mix or a free Bundt cookbook.
Finally, Nordic Ware is partnering with Nothing Bundt Cakes (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) for a freebie: visit any of the bakery’s seven Twin Cities locations on Nov. 15, mention “Minnesota Bundt Day” and receive a free Bundtlet cake with the purchase of a Bundtlet cake.
Surprisingly, Dalquist keeps just one Bundt pan in her home kitchen. It’s the “Bavaria” model, an old family favorite. (The Bundt cake pictured at the top -- a Star Tribune file photo -- was baked in a "Bavaria" pan).
“It has all these pleats and folds, and it’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s an old model.”
But she stores about 20 other Bundt designs in her garden shed, for the sole purpose of creating luminarias in the winter.
“You put a candle in the middle of them, and they’re beautiful,” she said. (That's some of her handiwork, below; photo by Jenny Dalquist). "Since November is the new January in Minnesota, it's the ideal pre-Thanksgiving family craft project."
It looks like she should enter her own contest.
Finally, why not celebrate this day-of-days by baking the most famous Bundt cake of all time? It was a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner -- curiously, baker Ella Rita Helfrich of Houston didn't win the contest's grand prize that year, although she walked away with a $5,000 in runner-up cash, which is worth approximately $38,500 in today's dollars -- and it sparked a craze for Bundt pans. Nordic Ware has cranked out more than 50 million of them -- one is even in the Smithsonian -- since Helfrich's recipe rocketed to fame in 1966.
TUNNEL OF FUDGE CAKE
Serves 12 to 14.
Note: Technically, this isn't Helfrich's recipe, since a key component -- a Pillsbury boxed fudge frosting mix -- is no longer available. But it's a close facsimile. For additional flavor, toast the nuts (spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 5 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees, shaking pan once or twice during baking, until they begin to give off an aroma). Dutch-processed cocoa is a richer, darker cocoa, treated with alkali to neutralize cocoa's natural acidity. Adapted from Cook's Country magazine. Glaze adapted from "Baking" by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, $40).
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. boiling water
3/4 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for pan
2 c. flour
2 c. walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 c. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. water
To prepare cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess. Place bittersweet chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Add boiling water, whisk until smooth, cool to room temperature and reserve.
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, walnuts (or pecans), powdered sugar and salt and reserve.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs and vanilla extract and reserve.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add egg mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add chocolate mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth batter with a rubber spatula and bake until edges are beginning to pull away from pan, about 45 minutes; do not overbake (do not use a cake tester, toothpick or skewer to test the cake).
Remove to a wire rack and cool, upright, for 1 1/2 hours. Invert cake onto serving plate and cool completely, at least 2 hours.
To prepare glaze: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine cream, granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil. Pour liquid over chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at center of bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles. Leave glaze at room temperature until it thickens just enough to pour in a ribbon, about 20 minutes. Drizzle glaze over cake and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.