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Who Brought the Bundt Cake?

Saturday, January 22, 2005; Page A15

It seems that in "The Bundt Pan Man, Letting Them Eat Cake" [Style, Jan. 11], Hank Stuever wants to have his cake and eat it too. How else could he have come up with the historically incorrect claim that the Bundt pan was "invented" in America (just the "t" in Bundt was invented here)?

Stuever writes: "According to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times, the ladies of a Minnesota chapter of Hadassah, the Jewish volunteer organization, sensed the need 55 years ago and went to the Dalquists at Nordic Ware with a request: Please replicate this old ceramic dish that somebody's grandmother had kept for years and years to bake a dessert called kugelhopf."

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The meanings of "replicate" are "duplicate" or "repeat," a far cry from "invent." Actually, the pan had been invented and used in Europe much earlier. So what did H. David Dalquist really replicate back then?

Webster's Third New International Dictionary gives an answer under the German names "gugelhupf," "kugelhopf" or "gugelhopf" : a semisweet cake usually of yeast-leavened dough containing raisins, citron and nuts and baked in a fluted tube pan. And the German Brockhaus Dictionary of 1935 defines the cake baked in a fluted and grooved pan as "gugelhupf," a term used primarily in southern Germany and Austria (and with some linguistic roots traced to Latin). In northern Germany it is called "bundkuchen." Contrary to Stuever's somewhat mystic translation effort in this context, the German word "bund" originated from bundling or wrapping the cake's dough around the pan's center hole. As for the pan's fluted and grooved design, it allows for more of the dough to get exposed to the pan's inner surface than a smooth design would, and provides for a more evenly and deeper heat distribution into the dough. This specific design feature, discovered and applied hundreds of years ago in Europe, apparently was successfully replicated and copied by Dalquist.

I grew up in Germany in the 1930s, and my mother baked a gugelhupf about once a month. The gugelhupf and its pan have been ubiquitous in German households for centuries; Stuever's claim that Dalquist gave "the world" millions of Bundt pans is a bit of an exaggeration. Giving them to America would have sounded more plausible. And may H. David Dalquist rest in peace.

-- Hermann O. Pfrengle


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