Did that title capture your attention? "What is a tunnel of fudge?", you may ask. Well, it is a delicious chocolate cake with just five simple ingredients. If done correctly, the outside is nice and crispy and the inside has a tunnel of undercooked chocolate in the middle, sort of like molten lava cake but not as runny (more like brownie batter). It is our family's classic, beloved birthday cake. Since we have a birthday coming up in the family I thought this deserved it's own special blog post. My mother-in-law got this recipe from a neighbor years ago and still makes it when we all get together. My husband can not have a birthday without it. I have had many failed versions of this cake but no one has ever complained about the taste.....EVER. When we moved to Colorado, I had several years in a row where I just could not make this cake correctly, no matter what I did. I thought it was the altitude (Turns out it was really our oven! The temperature readings were completely inaccurate when I finally tested it with a thermometer...) Anyway, in my quest to see if I could find another recipe or an adjustment for high altitude, what I discovered was that this recipe had a really interesting history! It was created in a 1966 Pillsbury bake-off contest by a woman named Ella Helfrich. (She actually won second prize). If you are interested in the full story behind the cake, there is a fantastic article by Cook's Info here . Originally, Ella used a package of Pillsbury Double Dutch Buttercream frosting which is no longer manufactured. The original recipe also called for walnuts which many people argue is the key to making this recipe work. In regards to the walnuts, some people say it is a matter of taste, while others say the middle would overcook without them but we have had successful cakes omitting the nuts and do not include them in our version. Pillsbury came up with a revised recipe to replace the no-longer-in-circulation Double Dutch Buttercream Frosting. I tried it (and some other variations) but nothing could come close to the original classic recipe. I bought a new, light, non-stick, bundt pan; we have a different oven, and I finally got it down to a science. You may have to play around with this recipe a little to get it just right for your specific oven but you won't be sorry (even with the not-so-perfect versions.) You can also opt to make a chocolate glaze for the top but it is perfect on its own with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream! You don't have to wait for a birthday to make this cake! It's a great treat anytime! Maybe for a special Valentine?
O.K ready? Let's make it.
Gather your ingredients. There are only five. Easy, right?
You will need a bundt pan for this recipe. I chose this non-stick, light pan. I have tried the heavier versions that do not have the non-stick coating and it was a major cake fail so I recommend one like this. I found this one at my local grocery store. A lot of times thrift stores have this type of thing too but they sell these everywhere. Here is an example of what they look like.
Step One: Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and well combined. You will want your butter softened first. I do not recommend using the microwave to soften butter. It changes the consistency of your baked goods in a sometimes undesirable way. I have a great hack for you if you are an impulse baker and do not like to wait half a day for your butter to soften (ahem!) Try rolling it between two sheets of wax paper with a rolling pin. It feels a little clumsy at first but I rolled it a few times and it really works! I read this somewhere (can't remember where, to give credit to this genius) but great tip!
Step 2: After combining the butter and sugar, add six eggs and beat until smooth. Next, gradually add the two cups of flour until well combined. As you can see, the mixture start to get quite thick.
Step 3: My favorite part. Add the can of chocolate frosting and mix until well combined. Such a pretty batter.
Step 4: Try unsuccessfully to resist the urge to lick these. Fend off attacking family members.
Step 5: Prepare your bundt pan. I spray mine generously with a coat of non-stick spray. I know when it comes to non-stick pans, you are not supposed to use non-stick spray because it damages the surface and your pans don't last as long. I don't know if the same is true for bundt pans. You may want to check with the manufacturer of your pan. I only use my bundt pan for this cake and I have had it for 3 years now. So far, so good.
Step 6: Use a spatula to scrape every delicious bit you can and spread evenly in the well oiled bundt pan.
Step 7: Bake the batter on the middle rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes in an oven that has been pre-heated to 350 degrees. This, my friends, is where things get a little hairy. It is difficult to tell when your cake is ready because when you pull it out of the oven it may not look like it is quite ready. I tried to get a close up shot so you could see what it looks like. This is your sweet spot as you want the ring in the middle to be slightly undercooked. I read somewhere that you can tell it is done when it pulls from the side slightly. See the middle where the circle is? It pulls away slightly there. I bake mine for EXACTLY 50 minutes; not a minute more or less and it comes out the PERFECT consistency. You may have to make it more than once to get it right. I'm sure no one will mind. I have over and undercooked this more times than you can imagine and EVERY CRUMB still got eaten.
Step 8: Now become overly enthusiastic and turn your cake over before it is cooled and break it. Or you could wait for it to cool (40 min) and have a perfect cake. Perfection is over-rated though, isn't it?
To turn over the cake, I place the serving tray on top of the bundt pan, hold both sides, and flip the whole thing over. It should fall right out and onto the plate with a gentle tap.
I did make another one, after all. I didn't think anyone would mind. I sprinkled some confectioner's sugar on the top. You could add a chocolate sauce if you like but we serve this cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it is just perfect!
I wanted to show you a slice so you can see the slightly underdone tunnel in the bottom.
Since it is a birthday, I thought I would add a special little treat just for you! I made a cute little bunting for you to print. There is a 'Happy Birthday' version but also a black and white version so that you could personalize one for whatever occasion you would like (Valentine's, congratulations, you name it!).
First print your copy, then grab yourself a nice little sharp pair of scissors, a handful of toothpicks, and some tape. Grab some coloring implements if you want to make a few of your own custom designs! I used watercolors but use whatever your heart desires!
Carefully cut out the pieces you wish to use.
Tape a toothpick onto the back of one of the little flags.
There you have it! Now you have a cute bunting to add to your cake!
Now if you like, you can do the same with the smaller versions. I folded the end over the toothpick and taped it. These would be great for individual slices of cake or cupcakes!
You can make your own too!
Even if you don't know anyone with a Birthday coming up, here is a perfect excuse to find a reason to celebrate!