You may have heard people say that cooking is art, while baking is science, and there’s some truth to that. There is little room for flexibility or extra creativity because of the complex chemical reactions that take place in baking.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s no room, and making a regular cake in a Bundt pan might seem like a fun idea to experiment with, but will it work?
In this article, we’ll cover the differences between regular cake and Bundt cake, and why you need a special pan for Bundt cakes. Then, we’ll look at how to go about it if it’s something you want to try at home.
Either way, the most important thing whenever you’re baking is to not only enjoy the process, but also enjoy eating the finished product!
What Is a Bundt Cake?
What is a Bundt cake in the first place, and how is it different from a regular cake?
The main difference between Bundt cake and regular cake has less to do with the ingredients than with the pan itself. Simply put, the most essential element of a Bundt cake is its shape.
A cake that is baked in a Bundt pan has a doughnut-like shape, meaning there is a large hole in the middle. The outer edges are fluted or grooved, and typically have a deeper brown color and slightly more well-done texture than the interior of the cake.
Therefore, to put it another way, Bundt cake would not be easily distinguishable in a taste test, but rather it would be quite obvious that a pasty is a Bundt cake by sight.
What Is a Bundt Pan?
A Bundt pan is a pan in which you make Bundt cake, of course! Like Bundt cake itself, the shape of the pan is what distinguishes it from other baking vessels.
A Bundt pan looks a little like a round, deep dish, with a circular hole, called a chimney sticking up in the middle of it. The chimney is usually open and hollow, which allows air to circulate properly while the cake batter inside it is baking.
More of the cake batter touches the pan itself than if you were baking a cake in a normal baking dish or other type of cake pan because of the design of the pan. Each piece of the cake has a fairly equivalent ratio of outer and inner cake.
Therefore, a piece of Bundt cake has a more well-done texture around almost all of the outside, while being soft and light inside.
The History of Bundt Cake
As you may have surmised from the spelling, Bundt cake originated in Germany, but again, because there is no quintessential ingredient or recipe for it, it has taken on different forms in different places.
Traditionally, Bundt cake was called Gugelhupf, but in North Germany, where it was most popular, it went by the name Bundkuchen.
It became more widely popular in the mid-twentieth century, when the US-based cookware company Nordic Ware began manufacturing the pans (today, Nordic Ware makes many different Bundt pan shapes that are quite beautiful).
Americans especially became enamored with the unique shape and the impressive look of a finished Bundt cake, which made a wonderful dessert centerpiece at family gatherings and holidays.
Since then, the Bundt cake has remained a popular dessert in the United States and around the world.
Why Would You Want to Make Regular Cake in a Bundt Pan?
There are a couple of reasons why you might want to make a Bundt cake in a regular cake pan. Let’s look at a few of them.
The most obvious is probably to get that appealing Bundt cake shape. It really is a beautiful dessert that looks lovely when frosted or decorated, or even just sprinkled with powdered sugar.
In addition, some people like the way that Bundt pans cook their delectable desserts. It’s impossible to achieve that crispier exterior in a regular cake pan or baking pan.
Another obvious reason to use a Bundt pan instead of a regular pan is if a Bundt pan is all that is available. Maybe your regular baking pan is dirty or being used for something else; this is especially likely if you’re hosting a large gathering and feeding many people.
Ingredients in Bundt Cake Versus Ingredients in Regular Cake
There aren’t major differences. Almost all cakes have four main ingredients, regardless of what else is in them: flour, sugar, fat (usually butter), and a binder (usually eggs).
Most cakes have additional ingredients, which include baking powder and baking soda, salt, milk, and other custom ingredients. For example, chocolate cake would obviously include cocoa or baker’s chocolate.
There are also cakes made for special diets. Vegan cakes replace the butter with another fat and the eggs with another binder, sometimes applesauce. There are even gluten-free cakes that leave out traditional flour.
These are all going to be about the same for Bundt cakes and for regular cakes.
Special Steps to Take If You’re Going to Use a Bundt Pan for a Regular Cake Recipe
1. Grease the Bundt pan well—In fact, this is important no matter what you make in a Bundt pan. If it isn’t well-greased, it can be very difficult to get the contents out of the pan.
What’s more, whatever you make will lack that quintessential Bundt cake shape, with the fluted sides and hole in the middle. Where’s the fun in that?
To properly prepare a Bundt pan, apply a thin layer of fat (typically whatever fat you used in your recipe).
2. Dust the Bundt pan—After you’ve applied the fat, you must next apply a thin layer of flour or another dry material, such as cocoa powder. Dust it over the pan and shake out the excess.
3. Use the right amount of dough—This is one of the trickiest parts of using a Bundt pan, since it is very difficult to know how much batter your recipe will yield before you actually mix all the ingredients.
As a general rule, your Bundt pan should be filled about two-thirds of the way, and certainly no more than three-fourths. Otherwise, the batter could spill out, causing a huge mess, making it impossible to remove the cake from the pan, and destroying the shape of the finished cake.
You’ll need to do some experimenting with your recipes to see how much they make. Our advice is to make a little extra if you can, and then bake a smaller cake or cupcakes if you have any batter leftover.
4. Properly bake—This is another big challenge when using a regular cake recipe in a Bundt pan, since the bake times are not going to translate. The best thing to do is use an internal thermometer to measure the temperature of the cake; once it reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s done.
5. Removing the cake from the pan—First, let your cake cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Before flipping it, begin to gently pull the cake away from the sides.
Very carefully, flip the entire pan, then tap it gently on all sides to loosen the cake inside. Next, gradually lift the Bundt pan away from the cake; you may need to shimmy or shake it as you do.
Can You Make Boxed Cake Mix in a Bundt Pan?
Technically, yes. Your biggest challenge is going to be making sure that you have the right amount of batter to properly fill the Bundt pan.
It might be a good idea to buy two boxes and prepare them both. You’ll likely have leftovers, but you can then make a cake in an 8×8 baking dish or make cupcakes with the leftovers.
Is There Anything Else That a Bundt Pan Can Be Used for?
Yes, absolutely! In addition to some delicious recipe ideas, we have also compiled a few other fun things to do with a Bundt pan:
1. Make monkey bread—monkey bread is pretty simple: roll balls of bread dough in butter, cinnamon, and sugar, and bake the balls on top of each other. Stuff your Bundt pan full of them.
2. Jalapeno poppers—just stand them up inside the Bundt pan and bake them like normal. The best part is you will have an easy and adorable way to serve them.
3. Lasagna—a Bundt pan is a really stunning way to serve lasagna, and the best part is that you can use your favorite lasagna recipe without adjustments.
4. Make a wreath, planter, or gift basket—that’s right, you can make use of a Bundt pan with which you no longer cook for these fun crafts.
The Most Important Step
The most important step to making any kind of cake is enjoying eating it! Even when Bundt cakes don’t come out with their quintessential, perfect shape, they usually still taste amazing.
You can also hide more minor imperfections in Bundt cakes with frosting, a fruit syrup, or a number of other toppings and serving ideas.
Don’t give up on achieving the perfect Bundt cake, even if it takes a few attempts.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.