Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Perfect Bundt Cake

As a matter of course, I regularly read other food blogs and websites. One of my favorites belongs to uber baker, pastry chef and cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum. I own several of Rose's books: "The Cake Bible"; "A Passion for Chocolate"; and "Rose's Christmas Cookies" and I'm anxiously awaiting her forthcoming book, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes."

One of the tips I recently picked up on Rose's blog is how to make the top of a cake baked in a fluted tube pan look as perfect and without air pockets as much as possible. I love the variety of decorative Bundt® pans, such as Nordic Ware's "Cathedral Pan", "Fleur de Lis", and "Bavaria Bundt Pan", but sometimes it's difficult to achieve the intended definition of these beautiful pans. It seems that the more complicated the design of the pan, the more chance there is for the batter to stick in the nooks and crannies.

According to Rose: "Fill the pans about one inch full with batter and then using the back of a spoon with a side to side motion, press the batter into the grooves of the pan before adding the remainder of the batter."

The Nordic Ware company also has a list of helpful tips to ensure fail-safe results for "The Perfect Bundt Cake". Complete instructions are available on their website http://www.nordicware.com/ but here are the highlights:

(1) Spray the pan with a non-stick spray such as Baker's Joy, which contains flour or better still, brush the pan with solid vegetable shortening and dust with flour (Nordic Ware recommends Wondra flour for superior results). Nordic Ware cautions against using a non-stick spray that contains lecithin (a natural and otherwise harmless ingredient derived from soy) as a gummy residue can build up over time, which is difficult to remove. My recently purchased can of Baker's Joy lists lecithin among the ingredients, however. For my part, I'd rather stick to shortening or clarified butter applied with a pastry brush.

(2) Avoid bubbles in the batter by slowing pouring the batter in one corner of the pan and allowing it to slowly flow in and around the Bundt design. When the pan is filled, tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles;

(3) Fill the pan no more than 3/4 full to avoid overflow. With a spatula, push the batter to the outside of the pan pushing slightly up the walls. This will ensure that the cake will climb up the sides of the pan, giving you greater detail on the outside of the cake.

(4) Black or dark colored pans require a 25° heat reduction.

(5) After the cake is baked, cool the cake for 10 minutes (no more, no less) before inverting on a plate or cooling rack. Using hot pads, pick up the cake and gently shake the pan from side to side. A thumping sound indicates the cake is loose and ready to invert. Apply a glaze or simply dust with powdered sugar.

The photo of the "Bavaria" Bundt® pan and instructions for "The Perfect Bundt Cake" are provided with the permission of Nordic Ware.

Addendum
: I recently came across a cake tester just for Bundt® cakes appropriately named the Bundt® Baking Thermometer. You just insert the thermometer into the center of the cake for 15 seconds. You know the cake is done when the tip turns red. Although I have yet to try it, I imagine it works (although not with the "Tunnel of Fudge" cake which remains soft in the center). The cake tester/thermometer is available from Nordic Ware and at http://www.kitchenkrafts.com/.

1 comment:

eatandbehappy said...

Hey Laura :) I'm a huge fan of Rose as well, i've got her Bread and Cake Bible. Absolutely love them! Thanks for that great tip about the bundt cake- i must have missed it on her site!