Some years back, maybe four or five years ago, I was doing a lot of cake baking and realized that I needed a tube cake pan besides the gugelhupf pans that have been filling up the cupboard-almost-higher-than-I-can-reach in the kitchen, where such things live. After a bit I thought of my mom’s old Bundt pan, and I thought, “Okay, maybe I can find one of those on Ebay.”
It took about thirty seconds. Soon enough I came across one of the old, heavy aluminum ones, still in its original packaging and dating back to the 1970s. It didn’t cost a whole lot, even with the postage, so I snapped it up.
The item itself is quite wonderful, and because of the thickness of the aluminum (about 4mm) it produces beautifully evenly baked cakes. But there’s more! Along with it came a printed booklet published in (apparently*) 1972, and this contains a dozen pages of recipes meant to suit the full-size Bundt pan. The rest of the booklet is a kind of mini-catalog of other Nordic Ware cooking equipment (gelatin molds, cake molds, lasagna pans, ebleskiver pans, popover and cupcake pans, rosette irons, etc etc) and recipes to use with them.
The booklet also contains the kind-of-unfortunately-named-(these-days-anyway)** recipe for the Tunnel of Fudge Cake. Having done a little research into this, it’s now no wonder to me that it’s the first recipe to appear in the booklet. The Bundt pan’s use in this recipe by a Pillsbury Bake-Off second-prize winner apparently revived the Nordic Ware company’s fortunes and turned the Bundt pan into something that a lot of home bakers suddenly seriously wanted. An interesting sidelight: remember those gugelhupf pans I mentioned? It seems that the concept for the pan was brought to the company’s owner by a group of Hadassah ladies who were looking for a modernized US-made version of the guglhupf pan.
(BTW, it seems that the original recipe in the book became “broken” within a matter of years when Pillsbury discontinued the kind of icing that was a vital ingredient. The details of this situation, and the replacement recipe, are documented here at Cook’s Info.)
…Anyway. The booklet got tucked away in the pile of Things That Really Need To Get Filed that lives near my desk, and yesterday for no good reason (except possibly entropy) the pile fell over, and the Bundt pan booklet — expansively and enthusiastically titled Unusual Old World And American Recipes*** — fell with it, more or less at my feet. I picked it up and remembered that my intention, a good while back, had been to scan the thing in PDF and store it in Evernote so I wouldn’t have to keep wondering where I’d stashed it.
So here it is for the possible delectation of others besides me who’re interested in food history and food fads and trends, tucked into our download space at Box.com. The food photography alone is worth looking at, as the bar has over time been raised a lot higher in terms of what we’ve come to expect. The cakes by and large look edible, but some of the other foods, the molded gelatins in particular, look… a bit unnerving. To my eye, anyway.
Additionally, some of the basic concepts illustrate a sort of Procrustean approach to the cookware. “Sausage cake?” Really? (I read the recipe twice in some disbelief. Yeah, real sausage. And not a savory recipe: the spices are unequivocally sweet. It’s one of those WTF WERE THEY THINKING recipes.) And probably the less said about the “party” Bundt meatloaf the better. (They even photographed it with a rose. Aw, bless.)
The PDF is just shy of 15 megs. To download, click below:
*It’s a guess. There’s no formal copyright statement in the booklet, but on the back the notation”4-72″ appears in the lower right-hand corner; and there’s a ZIP code in the address, which means that it was published after the 1960s.
**If this description reveals my mind to be in the gutter — well, seriously, it took you this long to notice? But there are some interesting stories to be found in the gutter, and there’s no point in being a snob about it. Anyway, some of us are looking at the stars.
***In service of the Old World part of the concept, there are some interesting touches in the recipe section. A recipe for potica, for example. But also, one notation that struck me a bit oddly: “Bundt Coffee Cake. (JEWISH ORIGIN)”