When the Smithsonian created its first major exhibition on food history, it collected icons of American culture: Julia Child's personal kitchen (the whole thing!), 50 years of essential cookbooks, and perhaps America's most celebrated cake pan: a Bundt® pan.
"It doesn't really go out of style," says Jennifer Dalquist, whose grandparents founded Nordic Ware, the inventors of this classic design. “We like to say it’s the quintessential American cake.”
Family-owned since it was originally founded in 1946, Nordic Ware is a company that shares King Arthur’s fervent love of baking. The brand is best known for pioneering the iconic Bundt, an invention that has led to nearly a century’s worth of classic cakes (and an entire Year of the Bundt here at King Arthur). But we don’t just partner with Nordic Ware because they love cake as much as we do (though it helps!). They share many of the same values that are core to King Arthur: community, sustainability, and legacy.
From launching a community garden onsite — complete with buzzing beehives maintained with help from the University of Minnesota Bee Squad — to a charitable giving program focused on local organizations, Nordic Ware is dedicated to its Minnesota home. “It’s always been really important for us to keep Nordic Ware here,” says Jennifer, now Nordic Ware’s Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing. The company is committed to creating local jobs, including for students with special needs making the transition into employment through the company’s involvement with Transitions Plus.
What’s more, Nordic Ware emphasizes sustainability in their work, ranging from their company facilities to product materials and more. This commitment includes using materials that are BPA-free and melamine-free, as well as nonstick coatings that are water-based rather than solvent-based when possible. Obsolete products are donated to local charities rather than discarded, while aluminum and steel scrap from the factory is recycled.
And like us, Nordic Ware has a long, deeply rooted history that has been woven into the fabric of American baking, part of the reason the Smithsonian included them in their retrospective in the first place. After debuting the Bundt pan in the 1950s, the signature shape took off the following decade when a “Tunnel of Fudge” Bundt cake placed second in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off. Since then, it has become a part of the baking canon, “an American staple that’s here to stay,” according to Jennifer. Today, Nordic Ware continues to create wonderful recipes (like this savory Cornbread Bundt) and produce high-quality, reliable bakeware that we can all depend on.
Cover photo by John Sherman.