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


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.


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Jeanne Sauvage

Get More Updates!

Sign up to get exclusive updates & tips!

Pre-Order Gluten-Free Wish List


  1. says

    You inspired me to go out yesterday & buy my first Bundt pan… & my kids were VERY happy when they heard why I had bought it :)! I may just have to make a tunnel of fudge birthday cake… we have 3 of them in our house in September.

    • says

      Shirley: Oh, thank you so much! I really appreciate it, my friend! And yes–I’m still surprised that it didn’t win first place in that contest! :)

  2. Valerie says

    I made this cake for my boyfriend and his mother. They both have gluten intolerance and I’ve been baking up a storm with the recipes I’ve found here. They absolutely loved this cake. Raved about it, even. Thanks for helping me keep in good standing with some pretty important people.

  3. Kris says

    The only books I seem to read now a days are baking cook books.. And this one looks like it could be the star of my collection! mmmmmmmm

  4. says

    Oh the requests I have been receiving to figure out good recipes and the true understanding to the crazy unknown of that tricky reaction of gluten! This is just what I need-wonderful insides to my wild confectionary creations on the outside-Pick me! Pick me! I can’t believe I almost missed the time slot! Thank you!

  5. Kirsten says

    As the daughter and granddaughter of bakers I was thrilled to find your site and recipes that make items taste like they should but are still GF! If I am going to make a cookie, I want a cookie! I would love to win this book because just as much as I love to bake, I love reading about WHY I am doing something and the history of it….maybe that is why I love your site! Since finding it about 3 weeks ago, I have been baking up a storm, everything from this site and my family is THRILLED because everything tastes GREAT!!!! Krumkake and the Tunnel of Fudge up next. Thank you for your work and sharing it with the world!

  6. Gabrielle says

    Can’t wait to try this! It looks wonderful… so glad that your “last day” post found its way to me today!! Looks like an amazing book!

  7. KD says

    I stumbled on your website when I desperately did a broad internet search for “GF baking trouble shooting.” Thank you for sharing your experience and enthusiasm! I have had over-whelming success with the Pink Lady Cake and the Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I look forward to the Tunnel of Fudge and so many more of your recipes!

  8. JoT says

    This is an amazing recipe! Thanks so much for sharing. Every recipe of yours that I have made turned out a magnificent success and this one is no different. Jeanne – your generosity in sharing your recipes has improved the quality of life of my family of celiacs!

  9. says

    Yum, looks great! I made chocolate cupcakes a little reminiscent of this just last night–a fudgy flourless chocolate cake on bottom, but airy and crisp on top.

  10. says

    I’m glad I happened to visit your blog today to thank you for the great GF pasta recipe so I can get entered in your draw! I am not a big chocolate fan but I love the history of food and look forward to trying more of your recipes after the success of the homemade pasta.

  11. says

    Thank You Jeanne for all the Great Recipes. I just made a fresh rhubarb pie yesterday using the pastry recipe from your book. Everyone absolutely loved it! This chocolate recipe is on my list of must try recipes. You know chocolate goes well with wine.
    Fingers crossed I win the new cookbook.

  12. Christy says

    This sounds great! I love converted to gluten free recipes! It helps me feel like I’m not missing out since I have to be g-free! Thank you for what you do!!

  13. Cheryl says

    One of my favorite things to do is read cookbooks! And I am learning to bake gluten free. I have had some successes and some failures but I will give your Tunnel of Fudge a try! Thank you for the chance to win this cookbook and for your recipe.

  14. Abby says

    This looks wonderful!. Thank you for posting this r
    ecipe and your flour mix.. I have only been gluten free for four weeks and have seen a huge difference in my life!

  15. Pam T says

    OMG! I’m drooling on my keyboard. Will be making this for my family. Would love to have that cookbook!

  16. says

    My Mom made a Tunnel of Fudge Cake and it was scrumptious! I have been wondering if this cookbook was worthy of adding to my overfilled bookshelf and your review has answered my question. Yes!

  17. says

    Love the book cover as I am sure I will love the contents. Beadboard, classic cake, dancing type, and black and white photographs with that delicious 50s turquoise as a backdrop: my hat is off to the designer.
    My latest kitchen challenge is learning the quirks of a 1951 Wedgewood range (and oven) that has been converted to propane. Any tips will be welcomed.
    Thanks for converting the Tunnel recipe, I was wondering what to do with my extra butter : )

  18. Cindy says

    Wow, I think I am going to make this cake to bring to a Memorial Day picnic. Thanks for the cookbook giveaway.

  19. Gena Jensen says

    Yes please!!! I love cook books! And will be testing this recipe out on Monday for our Memorial Day BBQ!

  20. Genell says

    I would love to be entered to win this amazing book! Thank you for all you do to make our world delicious :)

  21. Brenda says

    Yum! I think I will need to bake this cake this weekend to warm up the house. It’s a chilly damp rainy holiday weekend in CT. Please enter me in the give away for the book. My sister in law & I talk ‘food’ all the time and the stories behind some of our favorite recipes sounds very interesting. Thanks for yet another delicious posting

  22. says

    You’re right….. a brilliant idea! And with cakes like that inside the cover, it’s definitely worth working out a gluten free conversion!

  23. Brad G says

    My mother made Tunnel of Fudge when I was a child, and I’d be interested to see what else is in the book! Thnx!!

  24. Kathy says

    Jeanne, that cake looks great!
    Question, and I haven’t searched your site, yet, but do you ever work with non grain flours? Coconut flour, bean flours, starches? I can’t do ANY grains anymore, and would love some new recipes!

    • says

      Kathy: Unfortunately, I don’t usually use those flours. I would check out Elana’s Pantry–she does terrific grain-free baking!

  25. Meran says

    Hi! Yes, please put me on the list!
    I’ve been figuring out how to convert recipes to gluten free and this one sounds very fun!

    Thanks :)


  26. Patti Levine says

    I would love to win this book. I would love to get back into baking and this book would be perfect! Thanks for the chance to win!

  27. says

    My goodness Jeanne, this is fantastic! I am with you on the “darn it, wish I had thought of that” and yet happy when the result is something like this!

  28. Michelle says

    ooh! I would love a copy of this book! And a slice of this cake! I think it would be a perfect dessert for Father’s Day which is just a couple of short weeks away. Thanks!

  29. Kay says

    that cake looks amazing! I am extremely new, to gluten free baking, but i tried your recipe for graham crackers yesterday because I needed to make a graham cracker crust for a blueberry tart. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it came out perfect and i couldn’t tell a difference in the crust and may have even preffered it to the standard graham cracker crust made with wheat flour. Thanks for the great recipe!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *