I’m a rummage sale fan and spent a day last summer hopping around town looking for treasures in ridiculously hot weather with not a breath of wind to cool the air. I like to pick up odds and ends for blogging props and really had success on this trip. I found all kinds of interesting things I “needed” to add to my staging materials.
But my neatest find that day was a bundt pan. I confess, I’ve never owned a bundt pan. Once in awhile I see a recipe that looks delicious but I realize I would need that pan that I don’t own and so I can’t make the cake. Cakes bake differently without being in a ring type pan and I’m not enough of a baker to figure out the adaptations needed.
Near the University I found a rummage sale that at first glance I thought might not be worth getting out of the car. Mind you, it was so hot I was ready to quit after 2 rummage sales. I had sweat in places I didn’t remember I had. But something told me the woman sitting behind a table would have interesting stuff. She was maybe about 60 years old and looked amazingly like Martha Stewart.
So because she looked like Martha Stewart I decided to stop. That and my P.S. who was tagging along insisted we look at every stop I made. He’s curious like that. And doesn’t mind the heat.
As I scanned the sparsely stocked tables I found things here and there I thought were cute. A small glass cake holder for a cupcake. A couple of placemats and cloth napkins. A grey metal picture frame. And then I saw the bundt pan. I lifted the pan and it was heavy- made of cast iron and in almost new shape. It wasn’t one of those nonstick things with avocado green paint on the outside like I’ve seen in friends’ homes. This was a solid bundt pan. I decided I needed to finally invest in a pan to make the pretty shaped cakes I see on blogs.
At the table as I set my choices down in front of the woman, she laughed and said “Oh my bundt pan. “ Then the friendly lady who looked like Martha Stewart told me her story. She said at 17 she’d picked up one of those small cookbooks on Pillsbury cakes and saw a fudgy chocolate bundt cake she just had to make. She went out and bought herself a bundt pan since her mother did not own one. Her family was surprised she’d bought one and made a cake. She was not normally a baker.
She said the cake turned out great and they were all pleased that she was good at baking. She wasn’t normally much in the kitchen. After that success she didn’t make it again, and told me she thinks she may have used the bundt pan once more, if that. She knew she hadn’t used it in a lot of years, and put it in her rummage sale.
The woman laughed and was suddenly self-conscious at having told me her story but I smiled and said I loved knowing the history of my new bundt pan. I said maybe it will get more use now that I owned it. But I admitted I did not bake often either. As I drove home I resolved to find a recipe for a “fudgy chocolate bundt cake” to break in my new pan.
A quick search on my computer and I was laughing. One of the first listings for ‘chocolate bundt cake’ was on from Martha Stewart’s site. It was a sign. It needed to happen because the pan had belonged to Martha’s clone up North. The bundt looked amazing: dark, rich and moist with a large drizzle of chocolate frosting on top. Seriously, this was fate.
I mixed the ingredients as directed and prepared the pan. Martha said to butter and flour the pan, so I did before I poured the cake batter into the pan. I put it into the preheated oven and let it bake for 50 minutes before I tested it with a toothpick. I tested dry.
The cake cooled on a rack for a couple hours. I inverted it onto a plate and it slid out nicely. Success! I was impressed and very pleased. I made the glaze and drizzled it over the cake. The glaze was super runny and mostly rolled right off the bundt cake. Curses. I stopped drizzling and let the glaze cool and firm up a little.
We loved the cake. It was a dark chocolate cake with a lightness even though it was very moist. It wasn’t overly sweet, so the glaze was a nice touch of extra sweetness.
Because the glaze was so thin I cut the bundt into slices, laid them out in a storage container and drizzled all of the glaze over them. They could firm up in the fridge.
I think Martha Stewart’s look-alike would have been proud of her pan’s performance. As I washed the pan I remembered why I thought bundt pans were annoying. There are a whole lot of lines and crevasses to clean. I used a toothbrush but it wasn’t a fast job. Hm. I hope that doesn’t prevent me from using it more often.
Chocolate Bundt Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream (4 ounces)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Cognac or rum (optional)
Tangerines, for serving
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 12 or 14-cup Bundt pan.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix milk and sour cream in a small bowl.
Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add flour mixture, alternating with milk mixture, ending with flour. Fold in walnuts, if using.
Spoon batter into pan evenly. Slide pan into oven and set timer for 45 minutes. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes.
Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Invert cake onto a serving plate and drizzle with glaze.
Make the glaze: Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter and Cognac or rum, if using, and mix until smooth.
Let stand, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. It will take an hour or more to firm up.
Pour glaze over cooled cake. Slice, and serve with tangerine segments.
Adapted from Martha Stewart