Thursday, October 27, 2011


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Photo by Debbie Knight
I've been saving this recipe to post for a special occasion, and there are three special occasions coming up that could benefit from the addition of this dessert to the menu (UPDATE: Four in 2013 because Chanukah falls at American Thanksgiving this year)-- Halloween, American Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  I developed this cake a few years ago for my now defunct newsletter, The Vegan Feast, and this is the first time I've shared it with the public-- I hope some of you will try it and enjoy it as much as we do.  The ginger-y vegan cream cheese filling is a perfect foil for the soft moist, lightly-spiced pumpkin cake, and it's complemented very nicely with a drizzle of sumptuous vegan caramel sauce and a sprinkling of toasty pecans.

Tunnel cakes now come in all flavors, but the original was the "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.

Pillsbury came up with a "from scratch" version of the original recipe (which used an icing mix no longer in production), which contained 6 eggs and resulted in the fudge center. However, other versions eventually came about with a solid filling sandwiched between the two layers of batter. Since a vegan cake can't use 6 eggs, and it's very difficult to "veganize" a recipe with that many eggs in it, that's the version I opted to start with when I developed this recipe.  It's not difficult to make and, as you can see from my friend Debbie's photos, if you follow the directions, it will come out perfectly!

 Photo by Debbie Knight
Printable Recipe


Serves 16

UPDATE: For a soy-free version:  In the Filling, use the Soy-Free Cream Cheese-Mascarpone on p. 202 of my book World Vegan Feast. Make 1 1/2 times the recipe and then add the vanilla, sugar, lemon zest and ginger in the filling recipe for the cake.  In the cake, use non-soy nondairy milk or creamer and use a soy-free vegan butter such as my homemade palm oil-free vegan Buttah.


1 (12.3 oz.) box extra-firm silken tofu, squeezed dry as instructed below in recipe text
1/3 cup (1.66 oz.) raw cashew pieces, ground fine in a mini-chopper or coffee/spice mill, or almost to a paste in the food processor(**For a nut-free version, omit cashews and use 1/4 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained.)
1/4 cup organic unbleached granulated sugar
2 Tbs fresh or bottled organic lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
grated zest of 1 small organic lemon
2 Tbs minced organic candied ginger
Dry Mix:
1 1/2 cups sifted white pastry flour (stir well before measuring)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (stir well before measuring) 
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
Pumpkin Mix:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup nondairy milk
Sugar Mix:
1 cup organic unbleached granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter (such as my homemade palm oil-free vegan Buttah), softened a bit
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1 Tbs Ener-G or Orgran egg replacer powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (no substitutes!)
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs vegan butter (such as my homemade palm oil-free vegan Buttah)
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup rich soymilk or nutmilk, or nondairy creamer
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted pecans (or you can use pecan halves, toasted walnuts or roasted pumpkin seeds)

To make the Filling:

Crumble the tofu into a clean tea towel or a nut bag and gather up the ends. Twist and squeeze repeatedly until the tofu is as dry as possible.

Beat all of the frosting ingredients EXCEPT the candied ginger in a food processor until very smooth. Stir in the candied ginger. Refrigerate until ready to fill the cake roll.

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 10" nonstick bundt pan and dust with flour, or use my homemade palm-oil-free, non-hydrogenated cake release (recipe below).

Sift together the Dry Mix ingredients into a medium bowl and stir them together well.

In a large measuring pitcher, mix together the pumpkin and 1/2 c. nondairy milk; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the Sugar Mix ingredients with an electric mixer at high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl with a silicone scraper now and then.

At low speed, beat in the Dry Mix, alternately with the pumpkin mixture, 1/3rd at a time. Then beat for 1 minute.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared bundt pan. Drop small spoonful of the Creme Cheeze Filling in a ring in the center of the batter, all the way around, as evenly as possible.

Carefully top with the remaining batter and smooth the top over the Filling.

Bake the cake for 50 minutes, then test with a cake tester. Bake a little longer if necessary (in 5 minute increments). Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then loosen carefully around the edges and invert on a serving plate.

Allow to cool thoroughly before serving.

To make the sauce:

Bring the syrup, brown sugar, vegan butter and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan and boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the consistency of heavy syrup.

Remove from heat and cool a bit. Heat the nondairy milk or creamer just until warm. Whisk into the syrup along with vanilla. This sauce is served hot on some desserts, but I like it better chilled for this cake.

To serve: Drizzle the cake with chilled Caramel sauce and sprinkle with toasted pecans or alternate.

         Photo by Debbie Knight  
Nutrition Facts: Nutrition (per serving/1/16th of cake): 291.1 calories; 23% calories from fat; 7.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 217.0mg sodium; 309.7mg potassium; 51.6g carbohydrates; 2.4g fiber; 30.3g sugar; 49.2g net carbs; 5.5g protein; 6.0 points.


Mix equal parts:

aroma-free coconut oil (such as Omega Nutrition brand)
vegetable oil
unbleached flour
(For a large amount, use 1 cup each.)

 Use a hand immersion blender or electric mixer (a stand mixer if you are making a large amount) and mix until fluffy. Use a pastry brush to apply the coating on the inside of your pan--no need to flour after applying. Store the mix in a covered container in the refrigerator.



Vegan Fazool said...

Bry, do you think I could make this amazing recipe into cupcakes? I don't see why not...I will just divy up the batter and filling and adjust the baking time to a usual cupcake time (prob. 22-24 min).

Does that sound like it would be fine?

Vegan Fazool blog

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

It's worth a try, Dawn-- let me know how it works out!

Vegan Fazool said...

It's on my To Do list! I'll post back once I tackle it!