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Tunnel of Fudge Cake

in Diana's Recipe Book

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(total ratings: 10)
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Servings: 16
History of Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Tunnel of Fudge Cake was created by Ella Helfrich of Houston, Texas. She was a Pillsbury Bake-Off 2nd place winner (she won $5,000) in 1966. Her Tunnel of Fudge cake is a walnut-studded chocolate pound cake that comes out with a fudgy-wet center and a crusty, dryish brownie-type surrounding. The cake became an immediate national sensation. In fact, it introduced the Bundt pan to mainstream America. Until then, it was mainly ethnic bakers who used the pan, but once the recipe was printed in newspapers and magazines, Pillsbury alone received 200,000 requests for this newly designed type tube pan.

The original Tunnel of Fudge recipe, however, called for a product that is no longer being manufactured: "Double Dutch Dry Frosting Mix." So a few years ago, still receiving countless requests for the recipe, as well as numerous questions about how to make the cake without the frosting mix, Pillsbury’s test kitchens developed a "from-scratch" version.

This is the "from-scratch" recipe that Pillsbury devised in it's test kitchen so that the legacy of Tunnel of Fudge can be continued without the dry frosting mix the company no longer makes. Use regular unsweetened cocoa in the recipe, not Dutch-process.

I made this "oh so chocolaty" Tunnel of Fudge cake for my sister Barbara's birthday this year as she is a lover of chocolate cakes, and this one certainly fits the bill.....Diana, Diana's Desserts

For Cake:
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks/14 oz/396g) butter or margarine, softened
6 eggs
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch-process cocoa)
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans* (see notes below)

For Glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch-process cocoa)
4-6 teaspoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan or a 10-inch tube pan.

2. In a large bowl and with an electric hand or stand mixer, combine sugar and butter; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, gradually add the 2 cups confectioners' sugar; blend well on medium to medium-high speed.

3. Remove bowl from mixer. With a wooden spoon stir in flour, cocoa and nuts until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan; spreading batter evenly with rubber spatula.

4. Bake in preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is set and edges are beginning to pull away from edge of pan** (see note below). Cool upright in pan on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours; invert onto serving plate. Cool for at least 2 hours before glazing and serving.

Timing is everything when baking this cake. Because of its fudgy, molten center, you can’t test this cake with a toothpick or cake tester — it should be gooey, so this is no help.

At about 40 minutes into baking time, begin testing the cake, pressing your finger against the surface of it to see if it springs back. Don’t bake it even a few minutes too long. You want it to be very moist at the center, even when the cake has cooled.

5. To Make Glaze:
In a small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Spoon over top of cake, allowing some to run down sides.

6. Store cake tightly covered in plastic wrap (before glazing) OR store the glazed cake in an airtight container such as a tupperware cake carrier or on a plate covered with a cake dome at room temperature, no need to refrigerate.

Cake freezes well. If freezing cake, thaw loosely covered at room temperature. Unglazed cake may be frozen for 4 to 6 months. Glazed cake may be frozen for 1 to 3 months.

Makes 16 servings

1. If baking cake in a dark colored pan, bake at 325 degrees F (160 C) instead of 350 degrees F (180 C). Dark pans tend to bake foods faster, so it is important to reduce the baking temperature when using dark colored pans to prevent overbaking.

2. Nuts are essential for the success of this recipe, do not leave them out.

3. Since this cake has a soft filling, an ordinary doneness test cannot be used. Accurate oven temperature and baking times are essential.

Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2004

Source: Recipe adapted from Pillsbury.com
Date: October 5, 2004


Reviewer: Ruth Gay
I used to make the original for my son's birthday and was so upset when I couldn't get the frosting mix. Am excited to find this recipe. Will try and see how it compares.

Reviewer: Patricia Dunham
According to "Cookoff" by Amy Sutherland, 2004; the Pillsbury "from scratch" recipe makes a damp spot but not really the fudgy sauce of the original, and Mrs Helfrich (interviewed for a chapter in the book) is very disappointed that they are promoting this recipe that doesn't really work. Has anyone gotten a really "fudgy sauce" result with the recipe given above? If so, I'd be really interested in exact details of how you made the recipe. Thanks!

Reviewer: Maria McCall
This cake did not come out with the fudge tunnel like the ones I made years ago with the frosting mix. Came apart when inverted after cooling. Not good.

Reviewer: Precious Johnson
That Cake was Bangin girl. I hope you continue to make recipes like that.

Reviewer: Elizabeth Medina
I have made this cake about 10 x's and it has come out perfect every time. If some people aren't getting the fudge tunnel, they are doing something wrong, because i'm no "Betty Crocker" and I got it right.... Thanks from Denver, Elizabeth

Reviewer: Joshua Bratton
This is a really really good recipe. I'm a teenager that loves to cook and..this is a really easy cake..i love it. Thankx, -Josh

Reviewer: Susie McFartsalot
This was the worst cake I've EVER eaten in my intire life and I will eat ANY type of chocolate!!!!

Reviewer: Christie
as much as i hate to say it, this cake was anything but a tunnel of fudge. I have been cooking for years and this is by far the worst cake i have made, but the rest of dianas recipes are amazing.

Reviewer: Sandy
Nothing like the original. Too bad that Pillsbury frosting mix is no longer available.

Reviewer: sheryl
I followed the recipe exactly and it was the worst cake I have ever eaten. I took one bite and trashed it. There was no tunnel. Have heard 2 boxes of "Jiffy" frosting mix will replace original frosting mix. Will give that a try.


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