A bundt cake is all about the pan: the puffy tube of steel created by H. David Dalquist, Minneapolis native and cookware designer (also founding father of Nordic Ware) who was approached in 1950 by a group of immigrant Jewish women about creating for them a pan like one they’d used in Germany but were unable to find here. Dalquist, who passed away at 86 in 2005, took up the challenge. The women loved the pan and referred to it as a “bund” — that being the German word for “group” or organization. Dalquist added the “t” and trademarked the thing. It took off in 1966, when Ella Helfrich won the Pillsbury Bake-Off with a bundt called the Tunnel of Fudge. I love bundts…so much that I once wrote that a bundt is as close as a pastry can come to a hug. As such, people sometimes pass along their choice bundt cake recipes to me. One of my most favorites is this one, which comes from my friend Paul, whose mother Lillian made it at their every family occasion. Paul is a judge, a playwright, a husband, a father, and an all-around swell human being. But this is not usually my kind of cake: It has pre-made pudding mix and pre-made cake mix in it, both of which I generally avoid at all costs, and the orange-flavored liqueur Galliano in it, which I generally never have around. It also calls for vodka, which I find bizarre (Paul says it’s because the cake was originally inspired by the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail.)
But there’s something really marvelous about the way it all comes together: It’s moist, light, delicate in flavor and sturdy in texture, and wildly aromatic. I tend to dress it up by filling the well with whipped cream and, in summer, topping it off with fresh-cut utterly ripe strawberries. It has a sunshiney sort of flavor, if you know what I mean, and I think I need a little of that today.
If you have a bundt cake recipe that you love, please send it to me.
Lillian Bogas’s Best Bundt Cake
For the cake:
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 box yellow cake mix (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Galliano liqueur
1/4 cup vodka
1 3.4-ounce packet instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup orange juice
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur
1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-cup bundt pan with butter, dust with flour, shake out excess, and set aside. Put cake mix, oil, eggs, Galliano, vodka, pudding mix, and orange juice into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes.
2. Let cake cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.
3. For the glaze: Put confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, and liqueur into a small bowl and stir until well combined.
4. Drizzle glaze over still-warm cake. Let cake cool completely, then tranfer to a cake plate.
5. If you like, fill the well with whipped cream, and top it with fresh-cut strawberries.