Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Noble Bundt

My sister-in-law and I used to joke a lot about bundt cakes. They were extremely popular in our youth, as were cake mixes. I didn't make a cake from scratch until was nearly 30, and then only because my friends from college mocked me relentlessly about Duncan Hines. Eventually I discovered that cakes from scratch do taste better, and I got really into German and Austrian baking after multiple trips to Vienna. My sister-in-law and I have tried to duplicate the Mohr im Hemd she had at the Cafe Griensteidl 12 years ago many times.
Today, I had to dig out my bundt pan. I am making my boyfriend a chocolate cake from the Imperial Austrian cook book for his birthday, and it's not a layer cake. And I was reminded of the history of the bundt. Two members of the Minneapolis branch of Hadassah, Rose Joshua and Fannie Schanfield, asked H. David Dahlquist (founder of Nordic Ware) to manufacture a mold so they could bake the cakes of their European childhoods, not solely American layer cakes. Mr. Dahlquist complied, and the bundt pan emerged in 1950. It was a substitute for the many and various molds used in European baking. I assume that if you were Jewish and trying to get out of Europe in the 1930s, you may well have had to leave your baking molds behind. My grandmother had a quite impressive collection of cake molds herself, but by the time I needed them, they were in a landfill somewhere. So again, I rely on the bundt. It also works for gugelhopf (also called kugelhopf), a pound cake that a Dutch friend swore her father had for dessert every night, so I'd make it for her birthday.

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