Coffee Cake Friday: Tunnel of Fudge Cake, Gluten-Free {and a Giveaway}

by Jeanne on May 24, 2013


Last summer I was chatting with Clare, my pal and the amazing photographer of my book, about the projects she was working on. She shared that she had just shot the photos for the new cookbook by our talented pal Jessie Oleson Moore, who is also known as CakeSpy. Jessie used to live in Seattle, but has moved to New Jersey–which is a loss to Seattle. When I first met Jessie, she had just opened up a charming brick and mortar store where she sold her well-known, whimsical “Cuppy the Cupcake” designs, as well as art and items made by other Seattle artists. She has a pug dog named Porkchop who hung out with her in the shop. We fell in love with Porkchop–and Girlfriend still asks about him. He is such a cutie—just like Jessie!  Alas, about a year ago, Jessie decided to pursue other projects and closed her store and moved across the country–which means that I don’t get to visit her and Porkchop anymore in person, but we still chat on Facebook.

Anyway, her new book is about the histories of various iconic American baked goods, called The Secret Life of Baked Goods. My immediate reaction upon hearing about the book was: “That’s brilliant!” Followed by, “Dang, I wish I thought of that.” Every so often, a book comes out that I wish I had written. This book is one of them.

After much impatient nail-biting on my part (I’m not a good at waiting for things), her book just came out and it is every bit as awesome as I knew it would be. Not only is it gorgeous (thanks in part to Clare’s amazing photos) and has terrific recipes, it is a baking nerd’s dream. It traces the history of American baked goods such as Red Velvet Cake, Baked Alaska, Hermit Cookies, Smith Island Cake, Girl Scout Cookies, and Lemon Meringue Pie. If you have my book, you know how much I love to know the history and provenance of various recipes. I want to know why they are named as they are, and why they became important to particular times of year or to places. Jessie’s book is a terrific read in addition to being a treasury of fun baking recipes.

As I went through the book, I found that I wanted to make all of them. Now, this book isn’t gluten-free, but doesn’t stop me from enjoying this book. And I wanted you to enjoy it, too, so I decided to do a giveaway (details below).

One recipe in particular caught my eye several times—the Tunnel of Fudge Cake. I’ve heard of this cake over the years and I’ve never quite known what it was. Of course, anything with chocolate is OK by me. As I read through its history in Jessie’s book, I found out that it is a Bundt cake. You know my love of coffee cakes and Bundt pans, and I knew this was the recipe I had to share with you.

Apparently the cake was developed by a woman named Ella Helfrich, who entered it into the Pillsbury Bake Off competition in 1966. The cake ended up taking second place (oddly, behind a yeasted snack cake containing cream cheese and dry onion soup mix). But, even though it wasn’t the grand prizewinner, it was the recipe that took the public by storm. After the contest, Pillsbury was overwhelmed by 2 million requests for the cake and it created a run on Bundt pans from the NordicWare company.

Originally, this cake was made with a Pillsbury frosting mix that is no longer available. In response to the requests of millions of fans, Pillsbury came up with a “from scratch” version of the cake. I will admit that I always thought you added some sort of filling to the cake that gave it its name.  I was wrong.  What happens when you bake it is that the outside becomes crisp and on the inside, a tunnel of fudge is formed that is dense and fudgey—exactly as you would expect (you can kind of see it in the photo at the top of the page). It’s a decadent cake—it is topped with a chocolate glaze.  It’s a chocolate lover’s dream.

Secret Lives of Baked Goods--cakespy If you’d like to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book, leave a comment on this post by 11 pm PT, Tuesday, May 28, 2013. I will choose a winner via the random number generator! The winner chosen on 5/29 by the Random Number Generator is Meran. I have sent her an email. Thank you for participating!

In the meantime, here’s the gluten-free version of the Tunnel of Fudge recipe.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake, Gluten-Free
-adapted from The Secret Lives of Baked Goods, by Jessie Oleson Moore


For the Cake
1 ¾ cups (2 1/2 sticks; 288 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups (375 g) granulated sugar
5 extra-large eggs (or 6 large eggs)
2 cups (225 g) confectioner’s sugar
2 ¼ cups (315 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour mix
¾ cup (67 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups (240 g) nuts of your choice, toasted and chopped (don’t skimp on the nuts—they are key to the recipe)
melted butter and tapioca flour for the pan

For the Glaze
¾ cup (85 g) confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ to 3 tablespoons milk of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour a 9-10 cup Bundt pan with the melted butter and tapioca flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium high until fluffy—about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar, and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar, beating on low to combine, and then beat on medium high for 1 minute.

Gradually add the flour and beat on low until combined. Add the nuts and beat until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and mix by hand with a spoon–scraping the bottom of the bowl to be sure there is no leftover dry mixture left there.

Scrape batter into your prepared Bundt pan and smooth top.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes—until the cake starts to come away from the edges. The toothpick test won’t work for this cake—the inside is supposed to be a little underdone and fudgey.

Cool in pan, on wire rack until warm—about 1 ½ hours (let it cool the full amount of time). Carefully unmold onto wire rack and let cool completely before glazing

Make the Glaze
Sift the confectoner’s sugar and cocoa powder together into a small bowl. Add the milk, whisking to combine. At first it seems like there isn’t enough milk—whisk completely before deciding to add more milk. The glaze should be thick but pourable.  Carefully the pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the glaze drip down both sides.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.


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