Icelanders are endlessly creative when it comes to baking, which means if you want to impress the neighbours you really have to pull out all the stops. An invitation to Aron and Gunna’s home (our lovely Pastors) for a BBQ warranted, I felt, something just that little bit special. Enter the cathedral bundt cake! Bundt cakes tins were created by Dave Dalquist and Don Nygren in 1950 in response to a request by two women on a fundraising venture. They were tired of the light, fluffy cakes of the day and longed instead for the heavier German coffee cake popular all over Europe. During the 60s and 70s, the iconic circular, fluted cast-aluminum cake tins became synonymous with easy-bake cakes, although for reasons lost in the midst of time, they never gained a huge following in the UK. I discovered the Nordic Ware Company a couple of years ago and fell in love with their wide range of bundt cake tins. When I spotted the cathedral bundt it immediately went on my Christmas wish list. The BBQ at Aron and Gunna’s was the cake tin’s first outing and was so well received that when we were invited to dinner at our good friends Óðinn and Rhiannon´s home the very next day, I baked another (albeit different) one.
The following recipe is adapted from one I found in the wonderful book of bundts by Susanna Short. It wasn’t meant to be an adaptation. I fully intended to follow the recipe as written by Susanna, but unfortunately my mind wandered for a second and before I knew what I was doing, I had added the cinnamon to the flour instead of to the sugar mix. Undeterred by the mistake and (as it happens) also a big fan of cinnamon, I added the recommended amount of cinnamon to the sugar mix as well and swirled as directed by Susanna on the first layer of cake batter. The outcome was a beautiful cinnamon scented swirl cake that I will definitely try again.
The secret to a perfect cake release from the intricate bundt cake tins is to apply Baker’s Joy liberally, ensuring you get into all the nooks and crannies of the tin. Failing that, grease the tin really well with lard or butter and dust with flour, shaking out any excess. Let the baked cake cool for 10-15 minutes in its tin and then gently pull the cake away from the sides and middle of the tin before turning out onto a wire tray to cool further. Serve warm or cold. I’m told these cakes keep well. I wouldn’t know, they don’t last long enough to find out.
Cinnamon swirl coffee cake
This wonderful cake serves 10-12. As it was Easter when I made this one, I filled the centre with mini chocolate eggs and served each slice with a couple of chocolate eggs and a swirl of freshly whipped cream.
Ingredients: 2½ cups (375g) of plain (all purpose) flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1¼ cups (225 + 55g) sugar divided, ½ cup (100g) brown sugar, 3 eggs beaten, ¾ cup (170g) softened butter, 1 cup (270ml) plain yoghurt, 1½ tsps vanilla extract, ¾ cup (50-60g) chopped nuts, 5 tsps of cinnamon divided.
Method: Preheat oven to 375°F, 190°C, gas mark 5. If using a fan oven reduce the oven temperature by 20°. Prepare the bundt cake tin as per previous suggestions. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and half the cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside. Beat 1 cup sugar, the ½ cup of brown sugar and eggs until light and frothy. Add the butter, vanilla extract and yoghurt, beating well. With the beaters on slow, add the flour mixture until well combined and finally the nuts – I actually used almond slivers in this one. Mix the remaining ¼ cup (55g) sugar with the rest of the cinnamon and set aside. Empty half the cake batter into the tin and level with the back of a teaspoon, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies of the tin. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mix over the batter and then top with the rest of the cake mix. Level the batter again and then gently tap the tin several times on the worktop to disperse any air pockets.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a stick of dry spaghetti, or cocktail stick, comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
Once cooled, I slathered mine with a butter and honey glaze quickly made by melting equal amounts of butter and honey and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. I brushed the warm glaze over the cake with a silicone pastry brush and then dusted the the cake liberally with icing sugar. BTW people actually do say wow when presented with this cake. To be absolutely honest, I asked my husband to unmould the cake and when it slid out whole, I actually shouted wow several times, did a sort of jig and hugged my husband out of sheer joy. Sad, I know
An ode to the bundt cake: The Bundt cake is turned out to cool. From the Bundt pan, a specialized tool. For the baker. It’s fluted – A ring, convoluted. Nice pan, and the cake makes me drool. David Franks, in Bundt cake, Bundt Pan.