The art and science of the Bundt cake

Gallery exhibition explores the iconic pans

bundt cake

Photo courtesy of Nordic Ware
Celebrate Nordic Ware’s classic Bundt pan at Norway House and Ingebretsen’s this fall.

Carstens Smith
Ingebretsen’s

Bundt cakes are everywhere—providing desserts at potlucks, getting comedic cameos in movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and making noteworthy appearances on The Great British Baking Show (Did you see that savarin with Chantilly cream from Season 4?)

Now, Bundt pans are starring in the gallery at Norway House in Minneapolis. Starting with an exhibition opening on Sept. 13, you can view a historical selection of Bundt pans, learn about the creative and physical process of making the pans, and browse a small library with cookbooks spanning the decades. A miniature kitchen will give families a chance to make playdough creations with Nordic Ware cookie stamps and mini-Bundt pans. You can design your own pan, view videos of baking tips, read people’s Bundt cake stories (there’s time for you to enter your story, if you’d like to be included—details below) and learn how a pan goes from the designer’s imagination to your kitchen. It’s an opportunity to see the pans in a new light—as works of practical art.

Norway House and Ingebretsen’s Nordic Market are collaborating to present baking classes, demos, and competitions. Highlights include a talk by Food Editor Lee Dean and Restaurant Critic Rick Nelson, both of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, tracing five decades of food fashions through Bundt recipes. Cake samples will, of course, be offered. Lee and Rick will also be signing their book, The Great Minnesota Cookie Book. There will be presentations by artists and engineers from Nordic Ware and Bake ’n Take classes for people who want to learn fun, easy, and very quick cake recipes.

The Bundt pan is the end result of a Judeo-Scandinavian-American collaboration. Two women in a Minnesota Hadassah group wanted a lighter version of a traditional kugelhopf pan. Kugelhopf, a sweet yeast-risen cake with raisins, is baked in a tubular pan with a vent in the middle. It was usually ceramic or cast iron, always heavy, and often quite difficult to find in the United States.

Dave and Dottie Dahlquist were running their Scandinavian bakeware manufacturing business, producing aluminum krumkake irons, æbel­skiver pans, and rosette irons, among others. The Hadassah members approached the Dahlquists with a request: could they make a kugelhopf pan? The Dahlquists did just that. For years, members of the Jewish community were the primary customers for the pan, which had been trademarked as “Bundt.” Then, in 1966, Ella Helfrich placed second in the Pillsbury Bake-Off with her Tunnel of Fudge cake. Demand for Bundt pans skyrocketed.

To celebrate the inspiration for the Bundt, Ingebretsen’s is starting programming for the exhibit with a kugelhopf class, taught by food blogger and cookbook author Shaina Olmanson. Olmanson will share a family recipe, which came along on her grandmother’s journey to the United States.

All classes and events are listed on Ingebretsens.com/events/in-store-events and at Norwayhouse.org/calendar. The exhibit, Nordic Ware: The Bundt Cake—Then and Now runs Sept. 14 through Nov. 3 at Norway House, 913 E. Franklin Ave.. For further information, email classes@ingebretsens.com or info@norwayhouse.com.

If you’d like to tell us your Bundt story, please visit www.norwayhouse.org/calendar/gallery19/nordicware for details.

This article originally appeared in the August 9, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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