Tunnel Of Fudge Cake by RickMach

Information from https://www.cooksinfo.com/tunnel-of-fudge-cake and https://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/28/magazine/recipe-shirleys-tunneloffudge-cake.html

The cake was created by Ella Rita Helfrich (aka Mrs. Carl J. Helfrich) of Houston, Texas (born approximately 1917.) The recipe won her second prize in the 17th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off, held on Tuesday, 25 January 1966 in San Francisco. She had been participating in the contest since 1959.

Updated version of the Pillsbury Recipe (SHIRLEY'S TUNNEL-OF-FUDGE CAKE Adapted from Shirley O. Corriher)

Time: 2 hours plus 2 hours to cool

  • 2 1/2 cups roasted walnuts or walnuts and pecans, chopped (or all pecans like we have done)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5/8 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup natural cocoa powder

  1. Place a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone on a shelf in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. On a large baking sheet, roast nuts in the oven for 10 minutes. Keep watch that they do not burn. Pour into a bowl, and add butter and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Toss well and set aside.
  3. Generously apply nonstick cooking spray to the inside of a large Bundt cake pan.
  4. In a mixer, beat butter to soften until it becomes fluffy. Add sugar, then the brown sugar and continue to beat until airy. While beating, if the bowl does not feel cool, place it in the freezer for five minutes, then resume beating.
  5. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon salt, vanilla and vegetable oil.
  6. Beat in two egg yolks. Crack the four whole eggs into a large mixing bowl. With a small knife, cut yolks and barely stir the eggs, minimally blending the whites and yolks.
  7. With the mixer on the lowest speed, beat the eggs into the batter in three batches. Mix in confectioners' sugar and cocoa.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, stir flour and nuts together. Then with a spatula stir the flour-nut mixture into the batter. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes. You cannot use the toothpick test because the cake contains so much sugar that the center will not set but will remain a tunnel-of-fudge. You are dependent on the correct oven temperature and the 45-minute cooking time.
  10. When removed from the oven, the cake will have a runny fudge core with an air pocket above the fudge. About 30 minutes after taking the cake out of the oven, press the inside and the outside edge of the cake bottom down all the way around to minimize the air pocket. Let the cake, still in the pan, cool on a rack for two to three hours. Invert the cake onto a platter and let cool completely.

New Pillsbury Recipe

This revised recipe makes up for the now-extinct ingredient of “Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix.” Note that Pillsbury introduced a glaze, whereas the original did not have one. Pillsbury notes that the cake will not work without the called-for amount of nuts.

For the cake:
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups margarine or softened butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts

For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons milk

Start heating oven to 350 F / 175 C.

Grease and flour a 12-cup (3 litres) fluted tube cake pan or a 10-inch (25 cm) tube pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each one. Add the 2 cups of icing sugar a little at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in flour (if you have been using an electric beater, switch to hand for this) and all remaining ingredients in the cake section. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth it out. Pop into oven and bake until edges start to pull away from the pan and the top is set. Don’t go by standard tests such as a dry toothpick test; they won’t work with this cake. The cake should be done in 45 to 50 minutes. Remove cake from oven, leave in pan, and set on wire rack to cool 1 1/2 hours, then invert onto a plate and let cool a further 2 hours.

Now, mix all the glaze ingredients. You want the glaze to be runny enough to drizzle, so add a bit more milk if you have to. Drizzle over top, and let some run down the sides of the cake.

Original Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups soft Land O’ Lakes Butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups Pillsbury’s Best Flour (Regular, Instant Blending or Self Rising*)
  • 1 package Pillsbury Double Dutch Fudge Buttercream Frosting Mix
  • 2 cups chopped Diamond Walnuts

  • Oven 350° [ed. 350 F / 175 C]
  • 10-inch tube cake

Cream butter in large mixer bowl at high speed of mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Gradually add sugar, continue creaming at high speed until light and fluffy. By hand, stir in flour, frosting mix, and walnuts until well blended. Pour batter into greased Bundt pan or 10-inch Angel Food tube pan. Bake at 350° for 60 to 65 minutes. Cool 2 hours, remove from pan. Cool completely before serving.

Note: Walnuts, Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix and butter are key to the success of this unusual recipe. Since cake has a soft fudgy interior, test for doneness after 60 minutes by observing dry, shiny brownie-type crust.

*For use with Pillsbury’s Best Self-Rising Flour, decrease butter to 1 cup. Cream butter in large mixer bowl at high speed of mixer. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each. At low speed, gradually add flour, then sugar, mixing until well blended. By hand, stir in frosting mix and walnuts. Blend well. Pour batter into greased Bundt pan or 10-inch Angel Food tube pan. Bake at 350° for 65 to 70 minutes. Cool 2 hours. Remove from pan. Cool completely before serving

Other Info (pictures, nutrition, etc)
The original recipe was from when I was a kid. My mom made this and we loved it. However, the dry icing mix is no longer being made. Here is the original from my mom:
  • 1 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 package 2 layer size fudge buttercream frosting mix
  • 2 cups chopped nuts

Cream butter, add eggs one at a time beating well. Gradually add sugar and continue beating with mixer until fluffy. Stir in flour, frosting mix, and nuts. Pour into angel food pan. Bake at 350 F for 60 minutes. (if using self-rising flour use 1 cup butter). Should have shiny brownie type crust when done.
Topic revision: r2 - 2020/10/21, RickMach
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