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Top Pick Of The Week

December 5, 2006
Updated October 2009

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Bundt Sweetheart Rose
Elegant enough for any brunch or dinner party, these rosebuds were made with Bundt’s Caramel Apple Spice Cake in the Sweetheart Rose Bundt Muffin Pan.
WHAT IT IS: Gourmet cake mixes and decorative Bundt cake pans.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: The gourmet cake mixes have not one-dimensional flavors, but complex elements. Combined with the festive new Bundt pan designs, edible masterpieces can be made by anyone.
WHY WE LOVE IT: It couldn’t be easier to make something this impressive. (That’s what specialty food is all about!)
WHERE TO BUY IT: NordicWare.com.


Nordicware Bundt Cakes:
Festive Bundting

The decades-old image of the Tunnel of Fudge cake, made in a fluted Bundt pan, needs updating. There now are Bundt gourmet cake mixes that are standouts in a category that includes famous names like Rose Beranbaum Levy and The Barefoot Contessa. Along with a new generation of snazzy Bundt pan designs, if a combination of the two doesn’t get the party started, it certainly can finish it off with a bang. The cake mixes taste as good as our own from-scratch recipes, and the new Bundt pan designs entrance young and old alike (the Sand Castle, which we thought would be nice for kids, has been wowing every sophisticated New York adult who has seen it).

We’ve been baking Bundts for months now. It’s so easy that a delicious and head-turning cake can be on the table in less than an hour. It takes less time to bake to impress than it does to dress to impress. Caramel Apple Spice, Chocolate Macaroon and Sticky Toffee Pudding are some of the noteworthy cake mixes. The boxes are nice enough to give as gifts, and there are gift sets that include a mix and a pan. Read the full review below.

  • To read the full review below, click here. If your e-mail client does not support anchor links that jump to text above or below, e.g. AOL, please scroll down.
  • Read reviews of more of our favorite gourmet cakes.
  • Review the Table of Contents of the December issue of THE NIBBLE™ online magazine, plus the back issues archive and our most popular articles.
  • All of the Top Pick Of The Week newsletters are permanently archived on TheNibble.com, in chronological order and by product category.

Bake From Scratch

The Cake Bible Maida Heatter's Great Chocolate Desserts Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri
The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This book has remained in hardcover since its publication in 1988, when it was named “Cookbook of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The recipes are classic and the knowledge is thorough: it’s a must-have. $23.10. Click here for more information or to purchase. Maida Heatter’s Book Of Great Chocolate Desserts, by Maida Heatter. Another classic and a James Beard Award-winner, this book is newly available after being out-of- print for 10 years. Grab a copy and start baking up a chocolate storm. Try the Chocolate Pumpkin Cake before the season is over. $16.47. Click here for more information or to purchase. Perfect Cakes, by Nick Malgieri. With stellar recipes and a teacher’s approach, Malgieri, a James Beard Award-winner, serves up everyday treats like Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Orange Poppy Seed Cake, and ends with showstoppers like Bûche de Noel and Passion-Fruit Bavarian Cream Cake. The photos tempt you to make them all. $24.75. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Festive Bundting: Delectable Bundt Cake Mixes & Bundt Pans

INDEX OF REVIEW

This is Page 1 of a five-page review. Click on the black links to visit other pages.

MORE TO DISCOVER

Overview

If Bundt cakes are a cultural icon, celebrated in films like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” that’s because today there are nearly 60 million Bundt baking pans in kitchens across America. Most of them are the classic crimped, fluted tube-style shown at the right. For years we had baked our signature devil’s food sour cream cake, laden with two cups of chocolate chips and a cup of toasted walnuts, in the Bundt pan we’d had since college. The Teflon® lining wasn’t what it used to be, so a year ago we bought a silicone version made by another company. If only we had been less hasty. Waiting to be discovered was a bevy of Bundt beauties so charming, we will never bake a simple, fluted Bundt again.

Classic Bundt Pan
The classic Bundt pan has flutes with folds.

Even better, Nordic Ware, creator of the Bundt pan, has developed a line of cake mixes that are as delicious as any cakes we find in our daily travels. We initially baked and enjoyed most of them during the heat waves of last August, but flavors like Apple Spice, Chocolate Macaroon, Cinnamon Streusel and Sticky Toffee Pudding fit right in with the holidays.

Let us emphasize: these are gourmet cake mixes. They’re four times the price of a Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake Mix supermarket cake mix; but there’s no comparison between simple supermarket cakes and these complex recipes. Plus, as anyone who bakes knows, top ingredients are expensive, and these taste like like they are made from the best. We made some supermarket mix cakes along with selected flavors from other gourmet mix lines. There was no comparison vis-à-vis the supermarket mixes, and our tasters preferred Bundt’s Tunnel of Fudge to other gourmet chocolate cake mixes. If $10.00 for a box of mix sounds stiff—given that we added our own eggs, butter, whole milk and in come cases, sour cream and raisins (as we did to other brands as well)—it’s still reasonable given what one’s time is worth not to have to measure and sift dry ingredients and do the extra clean-up (especially for people who aren’t inclined to do it in the first place). For the 1-2-3 it took to get these into the oven, each box turned out a cake that would have cost much more to buy—assuming there are still bakeries that make things this good.

For those who may have used Bundt cake recipes in the past, these are a new presentation. In the 1970s, Nordic Ware licensed Pillsbury to produce the Bundt cake mix line. It was immensely successful, but the popularity of cake mixes began to fade during the 1980s with the rise of the foodie movement and a renewed interest in “scratch” baking. The line was ultimately discontinued (and certain mixes are still lamented on recipe sites and bulletin boards). Today, many people want the quality of scratch baking but lack the time to do everything from scratch. Give a population that spends ever-more on prepared foods and specialty foods, the time was right to re-launch the line at a quality level that matched consumer preferences for the gourmet flavor and quality of a “made from scratch” recipe.

Since 2002, the line of cake mixes have found success, due in part to the variety of fancy shaped Bundt pans that followed. They create instant party cakes with no added labor to ice and decorate and no extra frosting-calories. Combine a gourmet mix with a dazzling shape, and you have happy bakers, happy families and happy guests.

Bavaria Bundt Chrysanthemum Bundt Rose Bundt
Bavaria Bundt Pan, Chrysanthemum Bundt Pan and Rose Bundt Pan are three of the popular new 21st-century pan designs that update the 56-year-old original Bundt pan (which itself is a variation of a centuries-old design, as you can read in the history of the Bundt pan, below).

 

Continue To Page 2: Bundt Cake Mixes

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