Childhood memories have an extraordinary way of affecting one’s human experience. They instill in us special connections and symbols that inform our inner values and beliefs. For Paul Prager, principal of Bluepoint Hospitality, what appears to be a simple Bundt Cake is not that simple. Now and forever, the featured dessert in its own glass cake-stand at the Wardroom signifies Prager’s immense appreciation for family and care, a value imparted in earliest childhood. The flashbacks he has for the taste of his grandmother’s moist, dense Marble Bundt Cake are manifestations of the deeper value of family connection that he is excited to share with all Wardroom patrons.
With just a delightful bite of your grandfather’s traditional blueberry pie, or maybe the smell of your aunt’s tangy lemon squares, you recall specific moments as a child being surrounded by loving family. This confection, whatever it may be, puts a smile on your face as it brings you back to innocent times and familiar roots. But what if you were unable to create your beloved treat?
In 1940s America, a group of immigrant women were experiencing a disconnect from their European heritage. They were avid home bakers, but could not share the classic German cake beloved in their homeland with their own families and neighbors because the necessary pan did not yet exist in the States. The homemakers dreamt about the cake they cherished as children, frustrated by the pans they now had access to, which did not allow them to replicate the precise baking technique needed for the enriched batter. Like Prager, these women wanted to bring a delicate piece of their childhood into their busy adult lives. Their profound desire to keep this long-loved dessert alive inspired them to approach H. David Dalquist, owner of Minnesota’s Nordic Ware Company, in hopes that he could recreate a pan for the traditional German Bundkuchen, popularly known today as the ‘Bundt Cake.’ Dalquist’s hard work resulted in his successful construction of an aluminum ring-shaped pan with folded sides that the women called a ‘bund pan.’ The central hole is an essential feature of the pan, allowing for the thick, buttery batter to bake evenly into its signature velvety texture – and the distinctly curved sides promising perfectly sliced pieces. Years later, Dalquist’s pan would be a staple tool of Prager’s grandmother.
Prager would always smile when he saw his grandmother take out this uniquely shaped bakeware, as he looked forward to his most coveted treat: the Bundt Cake. At home in Brooklyn, his family strived to maintain a careful balance between work and family, to ensure that their young son grew up understanding the importance of spending quality time with family. To this day, the cake still represents for Prager the warmth and comfort of home.
Bundt Cakes are enjoyed today in a variety of flavors such as a rich chocolate, a traditional vanilla, bright, citrusy lemon, or of course, Prager’s favorite, a classic marble. Regardless of which you choose, the promise of the delectably moist consistency enabled by the Bundt pan awaits. Just a taste of The Wardroom’s Bundt Cake and you will understand the power of this seemingly ordinary dessert to spread happiness to all who share in it – if, that is, you’re not overcome by memories of your own.