A bundt pan is a type of tube cake pan, which I rarely see made out of clay. Perhaps because of the conical center opening it just doesn’t occur to a lot of potters to try this form, but it’s actually surprisingly fun and simple to make. While most recipes can be baked equally successfully in a loaf pan or a square or round cake pan, the purpose of the tube in the center isn’t merely decorative, it allows the cake to bake evenly from the center as well as the perimeter.
Throwing a Double-Walled Form
Center 4 pounds of clay on a bat, and spread the centered mound out to about 8 inches across. Open the center all the way to the bat. Create a hole about 3 inches across in the center of the mound to create a doughnut shape (1). Wrap your hands over the sides, thumbs inside and fingers outside, to push down any clay that might have risen up around the opening and smooth the top of the doughnut. Now you can begin to open up the doughnut with your right thumb tip. You want to push your thumb tip into the doughnut as close to the center as you can. Create a channel in the doughnut (2), leaving only a ¼ inch of clay on the bottom—you won’t be able to trim a foot on the bundt pan. With your thumbs or fingertips, make the channel about 3 inches wide and flat across the floor. Now you want to pull up the tube in the center, before you pull up the outer wall, so you don’t risk damaging the outer wall trying to work on the tube. With your left hand inside the doughnut hole, pull the inner wall up, working to pull up as much clay as you can from the bottom (3).
Collar this tube in slightly, creating a smooth curve inside the bundt pan. Remember, the tube needs to narrow continuously toward the top of the pan or the cake won’t drop out. Trim the rim of the tube with a needle tool, leaving it about 3 to 3½ inches tall. Now you can finish the outside of the pan, pulling up the wall just as you would the wall of a bowl. Make sure to angle the wall out slightly as you bring it up, again thinking about how the cake needs to come out of the form (4). Tip: You want to make sure the inner surface of the bundt pan is a smooth curve (5), with no undercuts. Even strong throwing rings might cause a cake to stick. Use a wood tool or a metal-bladed tool to trim as much excess clay from around the base of the outer wall as you can. If you want to flute the pan, you need to make sure you don’t have any excess to trim away at the leather-hard stage. Use a needle tool to trim the tube to be just slightly shorter than the rim of the outer wall, since you will need to turn the cake pan over to refine the exterior. You can check this by laying a ruler across the rim. However, be aware that a cake will climb the pan a bit more on the inside than the outside, so be careful not to make the tube too short. You’ll be fine if you just remember not to over fill the pan with cake batter! Finally, trim as much as you can from around the base of the wall.
Fluting the Form
You can leave the pan just as it is at this point, but it’s a nice touch to flute the outer wall. Use an MKM Decorating Disk to mark out as many flutes as you’d like (6). Eight is easy, but any number is fine. Center the disk on top of the rim of the pan and mark all the way around. Create the flutes by running a fingertip up the outside of the wall at each marked point, using two fingers on the inside to help define the flute (7). Be careful that you don’t push the top of each flute in slightly, preventing the cake from coming out of the pan. And be especially careful if you flute the tube as you are more likely to create a problem here. I generally only flute the outer wall. When the pan is leather hard, you can turn it over, center it, and trim any excess clay from the base of both walls and refine the exterior (8). Allow the form to dry slowly (9), then bisque fire it.
People often ask if the glaze color will affect how the cake bakes. I have found that it does. I made two identical bundt pans and glazed one black and one white. I discovered that the exact same cake batter browns more in the black pan. This doesn’t mean you should glaze the pan one way or the other, but maybe it means you can turn the oven temperature down slightly if you glaze it with a dark color—or use a light color of glaze if you want to avoid over-browning your cake. This is the kind of form that can be a bit tricky to glaze, unless you have a full bucket of glaze that’s big enough to dip the whole thing into. Once you’ve done that you can dip the rim in a second glaze, like icing on the cake. Or, if your buckets aren’t deep enough, you can dip the pan halfway in one glaze and dip the other half in a second glaze. Be sure to wax the foot before you start glazing. I glaze a lot of my work by pouring multiple glazes (10), and using a combination of glazes that stay put with glazes that run to create rivulets and pools of glaze on the pot. I always select two glazes that complement each other, pouring one glaze on each half of the pot, and then I drizzle three more glazes along the overlap between the first two glazes (11 and 12). Where all five glazes overlap, they flow organically during the firing process, creating a dynamic surface. The trick is to make sure all this activity happens inside or on the upper half of the pot, so the pot doesn’t end up stuck to the kiln shelf. Know your glazes well enough to select the ones that will work well together.