Think of Bundt cake as much like pound cake, but in a party dress, with a little extra weight to fill out the curves and bends of the fancy round pan.
Bundt cakes are heavy, dense and rich. And then there’s that hole in the middle. It serves a purpose: The tube conducts extra heat to the middle of the cake, allowing it to bake more evenly.
This is a cake meant to impress, especially if it’s baked in one of the elaborate castle-, swirl- or geometic-shaped pans from Nordic Ware and other makers. Heck, there are even pans with carousel horses and octopuses imprinted on the molds.
No need to get carried away with a heavy frosting, though — that just hides the shape of the cake. Add a light drizzle of icing that follows its curves and lines instead. Or, a dusting of powdered sugar.
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Is there a downside to making a Bundt cake? Yes. It can be tricky to unmold. First suggestion: Buy a nonstick pan; that will help.
Second piece of advice: Grease every tiny crevice to ensure successful unmolding. One missed spot and you’ve got a patch job to do. More than one piece left in the pan? You might as well make a trifle. I speak from experience.
If you’re still ready to try a Bundt cake, or you’re already an expert at it, know that you can substitute an old-fashioned tube pan for a Bundt pan. (But not the other way around.) Just make sure the pans are the same size and volume. How to tell? Measure across the top — not bottom — of the pan, then fill with water to determine volume. They should be the same.
Baking a Bundt
- Preparing the pan — Using a pastry brush, grease a completely dry pan thoroughly — coat all the crevices — with solid shortening or oil; not butter. Then, sprinkle some flour (or cocoa for a chocolate cake) in the pan, hold it over a sink, and turn and tilt the pan to distribute the flour evenly. Then invert the pan and tap out the excess.
- Get rid of air bubbles — Spoon the batter into the pan somewhat slowly so air pockets don’t form and make holes in the cake. Then tap the pan gently on a work surface to release any already in the batter.
- Bake evenly — Using a rubber or silicone spatula, spread the batter so the sides are slightly higher than the center. The cake will bake more evenly and be less likely to form peaks.
- Unmolding — Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Set the timer so you don’t unmold it sooner. Then tap the pan firmly a few times and shake it gently to help loosen the cake. Invert the pan onto the rack, lift it off and let the cake continue to cool on the rack.
- Stuck? Steam it! — If your Bundt cake is stuck in the pan, try steaming the cake out. Boil a tea kettle of water, place a clean kitchen towel in your sink, and very carefully pour some of the hot water over the towel. Carefully drape the towel (damp but not dripping) over the top of the pan, sitting on a rack, and leave it there until the pan is cool enough to handle, 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, the warm pan and moisture from the towel will create steam, and the steam will help release the cake from the pan when you invert it.
- Still stuck? — Try running a flexible rubber spatula around the edges to release the Bundt as much as possible before inverting it. Refrain from using a knife, or you may cut into the intricate designs of the cake.
- Storing the cake — Let the cake cool completely, then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or place inside a cake keeper and store at room temperature.
Pistachio-Cherry Bundt Cake
1 box pound cake mix
1 (3.4 ounces) package pistachio-flavored instant pudding mix
2/3 cup water
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Green food coloring
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan with shortening, then lightly flour. Set aside.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat cake mix, pudding mix, water, butter, eggs, almond extract and about 8 drops green food coloring on low speed 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Batter will be very thick. Spread batter evenly. Bake 38 to 43 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then remove and cool completely on a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar, cherry juice, milk and butter until a glaze forms (add more milk or powdered sugar as needed to achieve proper consistency). Pour glaze evenly over fully cooled cake. Let sit a few minutes to harden.
Dust cake with more powdered sugar, if desired. Slice and serve.
Orange Yogurt Bundt Cake
6 eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel (1 medium)
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 containers (6 ounces each) fat-free orange crème yogurt (try Yoplait brand)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel (1 medium)
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Heat oven to 350 degreees. Grease a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan with shortening or cooking spray; light flour.
In medium bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat granulated sugar and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add egg yolks, 1 1/2 tablespoons orange peel and 2 tablespoons orange juice; beat until combined.
In small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add one-third of dry ingredients to wet ingredients; beat just until combined. Beat in 1 container yogurt. Add another one-third of dry ingredients; beat until combined. Beat in second container yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients. Fold beaten egg whites into batter. Pour into pan.
Bake about 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 15 minutes. Place cooling rack upside down over pan; turn rack and pan over. Remove pan. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.
To make icing, in medium bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until well combined. Beat in 1 1/2 tablespoons orange peel. Beat in 3 to 4 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired pouring consistency. Pour glaze over cooled cake. Store cake in refrigerator.
Strawberry-Studded Lemon Bundt Cake
To adjust the recipe for a regular-sized 12-cup bundt pan, simply double the recipe. This cake is already quite moist without the glaze, so another way to serve the cake would be to put the glaze in a little bowl and let people drizzle it on their slices themselves.
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Juice from one lemon
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
4 teaspoon strawberry jelly*
1 to 2 teaspoons milk
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly coat the inside of a 6-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
To prepare the cake, whisk together the cake flour and next five ingredients (through baking soda) in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and next four ingredients (through vanilla).
Add half of the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Stir in the lemon juice.
Mix in the remaining flour, stirring just until incorporated. Gently fold in the strawberries, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 50-55 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the glaze, stir together the jelly and 1/2 teaspoon of milk until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar. If the glaze is too thick, continue adding 1/4 teaspoon of milk at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Drizzle over the cooled cake. Yield: 8 slices.
*Do not use strawberry jam or preserves. Chunks don’t make for a good glaze.
Honey Bun Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a Bundt cake pan or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream. Stir by hand approximately 50 strokes, or until most large lumps are gone.
Pour half of the batter into pan. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the batter in the cake pan.
Spoon the other half of the batter into the cake pan, covering the brown sugar and cinnamon. Twirl the cake with a butter knife or icing knife until it looks like a honey bun (or whatever design you want to make).
Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Frost cake while it is still fairly hot.
To make the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth.