Growing up in the Midwest, bundt cakes were always a thing. All the women in my family who baked had at least one bundt pan in their kitchen cabinet, and my mom also used hers to make Jell-O molds in the 1980s.
My husband often still reads the Minneapolis newspaper online since he went to school there. He came across a recipe for a vanilla and Nutella marbled bundt cake last year that he practically begged me to make one weekend. It was a huge success, and like I always do, I tinkered with the recipe slightly and made my own version of it. And while this recipe is technically cake and meant for dessert, you can definitely get away with serving it with coffee for breakfast in lieu of a pastry.
Bundt cakes have been making a bit of a comeback over the last few years and, to my surprise, King Arthur Flour (the holy grail of all things baking) declared 2017 the year of the bundt! I knew when I saw that news that I had to share this recipe.
You might not know that the bundt cake mold plays a part in American baking history, but this famously fluted cake pan was invented by David Dalquist in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1950. I was geeked to find out that Mr. Dalquist and his wife, Dotty, met at the Art Institute of Chicago—one of my favorite museums since I was a little girl. When they founded Nordic Ware together in 1946, Minneapolis had a large Scandinavian immigrant population and no one else was making cooking tools for them to continue their culinary traditions. With a treasure trove of Danish recipes from her own family, Dotty and David decided they’d make the essential baking tools used by Scandinavian home cooks.
But the story of how the bundt pan evolved with a new shape and name is pretty interesting. A local Jewish women’s group asked Dalquist to create the shape of the pan we know today. And there have been many more pan designs—some very elaborate—that have come out since then.
Although the cake itself is considered to be modeled after the German gugelhupf, it became suddenly popular in the U.S. after a “Tunnel of Fudge” cake (basically what we know today as a molten chocolate cake) won second place at the 1966 Pillsbury bake-off. After the surge of interest in bundt pans, the company was making up to 30,000 pans per day to keep up with demand. If you’re a history nerd like me, you can read more about the significance of the Nordic Ware bundt pan in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History archives.
This cake uses the base vanilla cake recipe with some changes, adds wild blueberries to the batter and is topped with a simple lemon icing. If you don’t have blueberries in season where you are right now, you can use frozen wild blueberries. Just defrost, rinse them under cool water and pat dry before adding to the cake batter so they don’t bleed during baking. If you’re going to to use regular blueberries, it’s best to use small ones. Large blueberries make the cake a little too wet, although it still tastes good.
Vanilla bean paste also makes a huge difference here in the robust vanilla flavor, and it’s much easier (and cheaper) than scraping your own vanilla beans. You can get the Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste I like on Amazon. I use lemon oil meant for baking rather than lemon juice in the icing because it produces a much stronger lemony flavor. If you don’t have it, you can use some fresh lemon juice and zest until you have a consistency that’s slightly thick and easy to drizzle.
Blueberry bundt cake with lemon icing
Yield 12 servings
This moist buttermilk blueberry bundt cake with lemon icing will be an instant family favorite.
- 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1/2 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (for coating pan)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (for coating pan)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup granulated cane sugar (I prefer Zulka morena cane sugar)
- 2 large or extra large eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, defrosted, rinsed in cold water and pat dry
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil (for baking)
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a measuring cup add 1/2 cup whole milk and pour 1/2 tablespoon white distilled vinegar into the milk. Without mixing, allow the milk and vinegar to sit for 10 minutes to curdle. Set aside.
- Melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and mix with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour. Using a pastry brush, coat every nook and cranny of the inside of your bundt pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the 4 ounces of butter and sugar, mixing on low speed, then gradually increasing to medium for 3 to 4 minutes, or until mixture is light-colored and crumbly.
- Reduce stand mixer speed to low, add 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, one at time, and beat well to incorporate.
- Add one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk and vinegar mixture. Beat on low speed in stand mixer to combine, then repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining milk and vanilla. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and stir by hand with a spatula to make sure there aren’t any pockets of unmixed batter.
- Gently fold in blueberries with spatula, then pour batter into the Bundt pan.
- Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean, or with only a few crumbs attached, about 50 to 60 minutes.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Cover the top of the pan with a serving plate, then invert the cake onto the plate. It should slide right out with a few gentle taps, but you may need to loosen the edges with a sharp knife. Let cool completely.
For the glaze:
In a small bowl, mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil and 1 tablespoon whole milk until it reaches a smooth consistency. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
Store cake covered at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Adapted from a recipe originally published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune
P.S. I used a classic Nordic Ware 6-cup bundt pan for this recipe. You can get one here: