Behold the Bundt cake, still going strong

  • Pear-spice bundt cake. (Star Tribune/TNS)

The made-in-Minnesota Bundt pan and the Star Tribune’s Taste section have enjoyed a long, fruitful relationship.

The earliest Bundt recipe to appear in Taste was published on Nov. 24, 1969, nine weeks after the section’s debut. It was part of an interview with Elsa Rosborough, a representative from Butter-Nut Coffee (fun fact: “Midwesterners who brag about their strong, black coffee might be surprised to learn that coffee companies ship their weakest blends to this part of the country,” reads the story). The article included recipes for upside-down coffee cakes; one of them, “Sour Cream Somersault,” called for chopped pecans, a box of yellow cake mix, cinnamon, sour cream and a Bundt pan.


In the intervening years, dozens and dozens — and dozens — of Bundt cake recipes followed.

Pear-Spice Bundt Cake

Serves 12 to 16.

For cake:

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 pounds (about 5) ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan

3 cups flour, plus more for pan

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

4 eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

Powdered sugar for dusting, optional, or Cream Cheese Glaze (see recipe), optional

In a medium saucepan, spread the granulated sugar in an even layer. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the sugar around the edge of the pan melts and begins to turn golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir until all the sugar has melted and mixture is translucent and golden (alternately, move the sugar around by swirling the pan).

Add pear chunks and stir to coat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until pears are very soft, about 6 to 8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. Using a potato masher, mash the pears until they are broken down but still slightly chunky. Continue cooking, covered, 5 minutes more, stirring frequently (the final consistency is thick and somewhat chunky; if liquid remains, keep cooking a few more minutes). Remove from heat, let cool completely, and reserve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, baking soda, pepper and nutmeg, and reserve.

In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and honey and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the reserved pear sauce and mix to combine, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth with a small offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until cake is a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes (different pan shapes will yield different baking times). Remove pan from oven and transfer to a wire rack. Cool for 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto a wire rack set over a piece of wax or parchment paper. Cool completely.

Once cake is cool and ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar. Alternately, pour the Cream Cheese Glaze (see recipe) over the top of the cake, letting some drip down the sides.

Cream Cheese Glaze

Makes enough for 1 (10-in.) Bundt cake.

Note: From “Martha’s S4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


3 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed

In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low, add the powdered sugar, and beat until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the salt, lemon juice and milk, and mix until smooth. If the glaze is too thick to drizzle, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

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