The first aluminum Bundt cake pan was cast in 1950 by H. David Dalquist, who owned the Minneapolis, Minnesota Nordic Ware company. Similar cakes were of course made before the aluminum pan was cast. Prior to that, traditional cast-iron Kugelhopf pans were used to make tube cakes, and "Bunt" or "Bun" cakes appear in Jewish-American and German-American cookbooks as early as 1889. Dalquist, however, is credited with making the pan affordable and accessible and his version grew to popularity in 1966 when the "Tunnel of Fudge Cake" won the Pillsbury Bake-off.
By the time I was growing up in Indiana, Bundt cakes were ubiquitous, at least in the Midwest, from what I could see, and my grandma would often make them as a quick Sunday dinner dessert. When I was back in Indiana last Christmas Eve, with 2 pies on the docket for Christmas dinner, I wanted to make some other type of dessert for that evening-- something that wouldn't take too much time or extra ingredients. So I opted for this Bundt, adopted only slightly (just a little less sugar in mine) from Molly of Orangette. It paired perfectly with a nip of Bailey's that night, as well as some strong coffee the next morning. I think my dad and brother may have sprinkled on some extra whiskey the next day, but I'll let that remain their little secret.
Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake
Adapted only slightly from Orangette (originally from the New York Times)
Makes 10-12 servings
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened, plus more to grease the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to flour the pan
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup bourbon, rye, or other whiskey, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Confectioner's sugar, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan (or 2 8- or 9-inch loaf pans).
2. In a heatproof bowl, set over but not touching a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate until just-smooth, stirring occasionally. Let cool.
3. Put espresso and cocoa powder in a 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup and add enough boiling water to come to the 1-cup measuring line. Stir until powders dissolve, then add the whiskey and salt. Let cool.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar, and beat until well-combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda, melted chocolate, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
5. With the mixture on low-speed, beat in a third of the whiskey mixture. When the liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup of the flour. Repeat additions, ending with the whiskey mixture (batter will be liquid-y). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes for a Bundt pan (loaves will take less time-- start checking them after 55 minutes).
6. Transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey (about 3 teaspoons worth-- or more!). Cool completely before serving, and garnish with Confectioner's sugar, if desired.