This is a cake with history. The recipe here is possibly the one most closely associated with the Pillsbury Bake-Off, which is curious, since it didn’t even win! Ella Helfrich’s Tunnel of Fudge Cake took second place in 1966, but it is the recipe that caught the attention of the public and also spurred an interest in the Bundt pan itself. This is a very dense, sweet cake and it will not develop its fudgy tunnel if it is over baked, so pay close attention to the directions.
With a nod to Pillsbury, we used their Best All-Purpose Flour for this cake.
Image: Peter Muka
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cup sifted natural cocoa
- 1¾ cups (3½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 2 cups toasted chopped walnuts
- ¾ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup sifted natural cocoa
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Thoroughly coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with butter or shortening, making sure to cover all of the nooks and crannies, including the core. Dust thoroughly with flour, tapping out any excess.
- Re-sift the flour and cocoa together into a bowl; set aside.
- Beat the butter in a stand mixer on medium-high speed with the flat beater attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy, about 3 minutes more.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.
- Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar on a low speed, blending well.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and add about 1 cup of the flour/cocoa mixture, gently stirring in by hand. Add the rest of the flour/cocoa and the nuts and gently stir just until combined.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan; spreading evenly with a small offset spatula.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until top is set and edges are beginning to pull away from side of pan. If you test with a bamboo skewer, the center will still be gooey. Do not over bake.
- Cool pan on a wire rack until just slightly warm, about 1½ to 2 hours. Invert onto a serving plate and cool completely – about 2 to 3 hours more. These unmolding and cooling times are necessary for the tunnel to form properly
- For the glaze: Re-sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa into a mixing bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the milk and assess texture; only add more milk if necessary. You want a thick, pourable glaze. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Cake may be stored in a covered cake dome for up to 2 days at room temperature.
- The nuts are not optional as they help the cake and tunnel bake up distinctly.