The Bundt Pan Revisited

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It’s round with a fluted top and a hole in the middle. It can transform a first-time baker’s cake into a masterpiece.    It even got a shout out in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Andrea Martin’s character Aunt Voula placed a potted plant in its middle.

 I’m talking about the bundt (or Bundt) pan, that decorative take on the tube pan that can turn the most basic cake into a work of edible art.
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Humble beginnings

The Nordic Ware Co. brought the bundt pan in to the American kitchen. The 71-year-old Minneapolis-based company was founded by husband-and-wife team David and Dotty Dalquist. The couple’s basement served as Nordic Ware’s first headquarters.

The first products produced were specialty Scandinavian cookware items like the rosette and krumkake irons. But it was the introduction of the bundt pan in the early 1950s that transformed the company.

Two local women approached the company seeking a lightweight alternative to the heavy cast-iron bundkuchen pan. In response, the company created the bundt pan. They also trademarked the name. Just as slow cookers are often referred to as the trademarked name Crockpot Crock-Pot, fluted tube cake pans are almost always referred to as bundt pans.

The beauty of the Bundt pan is in the design. The hole in the middle actually makes the cake bake more evenly than it does in a traditional cake pan. You won’t find any undercooked areas in the middle of a bundt cake.

Sweet, Savory and “Something for the Birds!”

Don’t limit your Bundt caking to just the sweet side.   Though a Bundt cake makes a terrific crowd-pleasing ending to any meal, this versatile pan can be used to create savory offerings as well.   You can even make something to make your feathered friends happy by forming birdseed into a decorative wreath, ready to hang in your yard.

Here are some recipes, from sweet to savory, the get you started on your Bundt cake experience!

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Cornmeal and Olive Oil Cake

 

Close up whiskey cake

Bourbon Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake

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Bundt Pan Spagetti Pie

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Bird Seed Bundt Wreath

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Cooking for the birds

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I have a special affinity for birds.   My father, Earl Reitz, along with my grandfather Mathew Reitz, ran a successful feed company in Hammond, Indiana when I was growing up.   Making bird seed blends for various national companies was one of the many items the company produced.  As an homage to my late father and grandfather and a tribute to their company, MGR Feed, I frequently make homemade bird seed wreaths formed in, what else, a bundt pan.

You probably have seen decorative bird seed wreaths in fancy gardening catelogs or garden shops.    With a bag of bird seed, a packet of Knox-brand unflavored gelatin, a few tablespoon of corn syrup and some flour, you can make your own bird seed wreath with your trusty fluted Bundt pan.

The gelatin and flour mixture becomes an edible glue that, when mixed with your favorite bird seed blend, creates a mixture that gets tightly packed into the greased tube pan.   Let the wreath dry out for a minimum of 24 hours in a cool place in your home.   It may look dry sooner, but trust me, it won’t be ready.   A 5-pound bag of bird seed will yield 3 bird seed wreaths.

Once dry, simply unmold (I unmold mine on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper to pick up any excess bird seed) and tie with decorative ribbon.  A perfect gift for the bird lover in your family as well as a delicious treat for those backyard feathered friends.

20161219_205514405_iOSBirdie Bundt Wreath
Makes 1 8-inch wreath

1 packet (¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin
½ cup warm water
¾ cup flour
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 cups birdseed mix
½ cup dried red fruit like dried cherries or cranberries

  • In a large bowl, mix gelatin and water.  Add flour and corn syrup; stir with rubber spatula to form a thick paste.   Add bird seed; mix to coat all seeds.
  • Spray top and side of a 12-cup bundt or fluted tube pan with non-stick food spray.  Distribute dried fruit on bottom of pan.  Press seed mixture firmly into pan.
  • Place pan in cool area; let dry for 24 hours.   Carefully flip pan and remove wreath.  Tie ribbon on top of wreath.  Hang on tree branch for birds to enjoy.

 

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Thanksgiving Recipes and Tips

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner.    Everyone seems to have their own opinions on what method makes the perfect bird.   Brining (both wet and dry), roasting, grilling, frying……. The list goes on.   And can be overwhelming for a “first timer.”

Take solace.   My “First Thanksgiving Menu” article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will provide with a complete menu along with tips to make your first Thanksgiving Day dinner perfect.   Remember, don’t try to go full Food Network on your first time.    Prepare a simple but delicious menu with lots of items that can be prepared ahead.

Don’t forget to check out my Turkey Day tip section in the article.    Beyond the menu you will need to remember decorations, place settings and kitchen items you may need.

Don’t know the difference between fresh and frozen, heritage and organic?   Fine Cooking Magazine has a great article explaining everything you need to know when selecting turkey.

Need more tips?    Here is a list of “hot line numbers” from turkey prep to cranberries.   A lot of them are open help on Thanksgiving!

To get you started, here are some photos and quick links to my “First Thanksgiving” menu.

 

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Herb Butter Roasted Turkey

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Quick Cranberries with Grand Marnier

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Simple Dressing

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 Pumpkin Mousse with Gingersnaps

 

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 Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables

Don’t forget the appetizers.   Cheese balls (yes cheese balls!) are making a comeback.    Since Thanksgiving and foot ball seem to go hand in hand, why not serve an edible “pigskin” by creating a cheese ball encased in crispy bacon.   Shape the cheese ball like a foot ball, complete with edible mozzarella laces.

 

Additional recipes for Thanksgiving Entertaining
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Cast Iron Skillet Buttermilk Cornbread
use this terrific recipe as a bread for your Thanksgiving dinner or as part of your dressing/stuffing

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Pigskin Cheese Ball

For an edible centerpiece, create my pine cone cheeseball.    Use toasted whole almonds to create the pine cone effect.   Present your cheese ball on a cake pedestal with fresh rosemary greenery and bright red cranberries.

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Pine Cone Cheese Ball

Whole toasted almonds create the perfect edible centerpiece – a cheese ball pine cone!

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Easy Appetizers – six in sixty minutes

Don’t have a lot of time for any extra appetizers?   Check out how to make six appetizers in sixty minutes.

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Triple-Layer Pumpkin Cheese Pie
Layers of cream cheese, chocolate and pumpkin make a pie to please all!

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Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

A switch-up on a traditional yeast roll.   Use sweet potato in the dough with a touch of cinnamon.

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