Tunnel of Fudge Cake

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read the full disclosure here.

Do you ever think about foods you had when you were a kid?   How about foods that are now considered “retro”?   This week Sunday Supper is sharing retro food recipes from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s and I’m the host!   I was so excited to see what recipes everyone came up with and also to find the perfect retro recipe myself.

Rich and Delicious Tunnel of Fudge Cake makes its own layer of fudge in the middle of the cake.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

But back to the retro recipes.  After looking long and hard on many lists, in old cookbooks, and asking other foodies, I came up with the Tunnel of Fudge Cake.   Let me give you a little background on this amazing cake.  Back in 1966 a woman by the name of Ella Helfrich entered her chocolate cake that made its own fudge center in the Pillsbury Bake-Off.  Ella won second prize and $5000 for her creation while the first prize winner won $25,000.   Days after Ella came in second place people wanted to know where she got the pan to make her cake.   While the Bundt pan was invented in the 1950’s, it didn’t really become popular until the Tunnel of Fudge cake came out at the 1966 Bake-Off.

Gorgeous Tunnel of Fudge Cake ready for glazing

The funny part about the Pillsbury Bake-Off is that the winner that year entered a yeast snack cake and almost everyone has since forgotten about it.   The Tunnel of Fudge Cake has withstood the test of time and is still popular today.  In fact, Pillsbury updated the recipe in 2004 because one of the main ingredients, Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix, was no longer being produced. I couldn’t wait to get started on this cake.  My assistant at school was having a birthday and she loves chocolate so I wanted to make this for her.  While I had never made it before, I have heard of it and knew it would be an instant success.   It is important to realize that you cannot skimp on the nuts.    Without the nuts the fudge tunnel will not appear in the middle of the cake.  I have no idea why that is but it’s the truth.  It’s also important to note that this cake is not for the faint of heart.

Retro Recipes:   Tunnel of Fudge Cake, popular in the 1960;s!

This cake contains almost 4 cups of sugar, 6 eggs, 3 1/2 sticks of butter, and 3/4 cups of cocoa powder.   I’m not joking…..these are the correct amounts.   When I poured the batter in the pan I thought for sure it would overflow in the oven.   The batter in the pan weighed over 5 pounds.   I put it in the oven and crossed my fingers that it would work.   I followed the directions exactly. I can honestly say that this is one of the prettiest Bundt cakes I’ve ever made.  It came out of the pan cleanly and looked amazing.    I agonized over it for 24 hours waiting to take it to work and have my aide cut it open.   The funny thing is when she got it she asked if I wanted to cut it and take a photo….she knows me so well!   I closed my eyes as I took out the first piece and…success!   There was a clear tunnel of fudge in the middle of the cake.  I was psyched.

TUnnel of Fudge Cake has a fudgy nut center. The cake was rich, fudgy, and delicious.  The nuts added a nice crunch and contrast to all that chocolate.   The cake was moist and the fudge in the middle was awesome.  I will definitely be making this again as a special occasion cake for someone who loves chocolate.
Rich and Delicious Tunnel of Fudge Cake makes its own layer of fudge in the middle of the cake.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Yield: serves 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This runner up from the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off is a chocolate cake that magically makes its own tunnel of fudge in the center while it bakes.


For the cake:

  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 3/4 c. butter, softened (3 1/2 sticks)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 c. walnuts, chopped

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 - 6 teaspoons milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan. I used baking spray instead of greasing and flouring.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Add the powdered sugar a half cup at a time, beating after each addition.
  5. Stir in the flour and cocoa powder, beating until the batter is smooth.
  6. Fold in the walnuts.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt Pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the edges start pulling away from the pan. Do not stick a toothpick into the cake as it will not come out clean even when the cake is cooked.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool, in the pan, for 1 1/2 hours.
  9. After 1 1/2 hours, run a knife around the edges of the Bundt pan and turn the cake onto a plate. Allow the cake to cool 2 hours.
  10. In a small bowl combine the glaze ingredients and mix until smooth. Drizzle over top of the cooled cake, allowing some to run down the sides of the cake.


Slightly adapted from Pillsbury and Ella Helfrich

Gooey Tunnel of Fudge Cake was the runner up at the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1966 More Retro Recipes:


  1. This cake has stood the test of time. Some of my mom’s best recipes were from The Bake Off. I never realized that until I googled one and found it.

  2. I used to make bundt type cakes all the time. What a great memory to remind me and to go dig out the pans from storage and put them to good use!

  3. This looks so decadent and something I need in my life soon! Thanks so much for hosting this week- so much fun 🙂

  4. I’ve made a nut free version and it’s such a terrific cake. I never knew this was the recipe that propelled the popularity of the Bundt pan! Thanks so much for hosting us this week!!!

  5. Your fudge tunnel was indeed perfect, Heather! What a great choice for our retro Sunday Supper since this is the cake that started our craze for all things Bundt! Thank you so much for hosting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *