If anything can come between a Southern baker and her love of mile-high layer cakes, it would be the shapely Bundt. The popularity of the Bundt pan skyrocketed when the Tunnel of Fudge Bundt cake placed second in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off. Ever since, fans of this particular pan have been turning out beautiful cakes with more curves and crevices than a mountain range. Want your Bundt cake to be a work of art? Follow these simple, foolproof tips.
Prepare the Pan
Use a pastry brush to grease the pan thoroughly with solid shortening. Sprinkle some flour in the pan, hold it over a sink, and tilt the pan in a circular motion in order to distribute the flour evenly. Then flip the pan over and tap out the excess flour to prevent a buildup of grease and flour on the finished cake. Be sure to grease and flour all the crevices in the pan so the cake will release easily and the design will be sharply defined.
Use name-brand ingredients. Store brands of sugar are often more finely ground than name brands, yielding more sugar per cup, which can cause the cake to fall. Store brands of butter may contain more liquid fat and flours more hard wheat, making the cake heavy.
Pre-measure ingredients and assemble them in the order listed. Use dry measuring cups for flour and sugar. Spoon flour into the cups and level with the straight edge of a knife. Extra sugar or leavening causes a cake to fall; extra flour makes it dry.
Beat softened butter (and cream cheese or vegetable shortening) at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy. These steps are important because they whip air into the cake batter so it will rise during baking. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears. Overbeating the eggs may cause the batter to overflow the sides of the pan when baked or create a fragile crust that crumbles and separates from the cake as it cools.
Alternate Wet and Dry
To prevent the batter from curdling, always add the dry ingredients alternately with the liquid, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended after each addition; overmixing at this point can create a tough, rubbery cake.
Fill the Pan
To prevent the formation of air bubbles, slowly spoon the batter into the pan. To release any bubbles that may have developed, tap the pan gently on a work surface.
Check for Doneness
Don't open the oven door until it's time to check the cake for doneness. Heat escapes each time the door is open, which prolongs the bake time. Following your recipe instructions, use a wooden pick to check for doneness. If your cake requires more time, gently close the oven door to prevent jarring and loss of heat—both can cause a cake to fall if it’s not done.
After removing from the oven, place the pan on a wire rack and let cool; your recipe will specify the required time, usually from 10-20 minutes. This allows the cake to become firm enough to remove from the pan without breaking apart. Cooling too long in the pan will cause the cake to be damp and stick to the pan. Tap the pan firmly a few times and shake it gently to help loosen the cake. Invert the pan onto the rack, lift it off and let the cake continue to cool on the rack.