Bundt Pan Inventor H. David Dalquist, Who Had a Little Help From Hadassah

Published January 14, 2005, issue of January 14, 2005.
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H. David Dalquist, who died last Sunday at age 86, will be remembered as the inventor of the Bundt pan.

But the rounded, circular baking pan was actually the brainchild of several women from Hadassah’s Minneapolis chapter who approached Dalquist with the idea in 1950.

Fannie Schanfield, 87, a lifetime Minneapolis resident who joined Hadassah in 1935, said that cooking and baking were a big part of her life, and of those of her peers, at the time. She recalled in a 2002 phone interview that the Hadassah women were learning how to prepare a “light and fluffy” sponge cake when a fellow member decided that she wanted to bake the heavier cakes that she remembered from her native Germany.

Schanfield said that Rose Joshua, then in her early 30s, announced, “Germans are used to heavy cakes.”

It takes a heavy pan to turn out heavy cakes, but no such pans were to be found in America. So Joshua brought her heavy iron pan to Dalquist, chairman, owner and founder of Northland Aluminum, which sells the Nordic Ware line of baking pans, and asked if he could fashion a similar one for her.

Dalquist set out to make a mold of the heavy, curvaceous pan Joshua had in mind. It was the first time he’d ever been approached to make a pan, he said in an interview two years before his death.

The Hadassah women liked Dalquist’s creation so much that his company started out making several hundred. It then began marketing the pans to major department stores, and Dalquist brought the seconds to the Jewish women.

“I personally delivered the pans — 300 or 400 I think — to them,” Dalquist said.

The Hadassah women turned around and sold the pans they didn’t keep, at between $7 and $10 apiece. Schanfield said the Bundt pans — originally spelled Bund, German for “association” —- were a source of funds for Hadassah for many years.

“I can’t think of any Hadassah members who didn’t have a Bundt pan,” Schanfield said.

Although the pan didn’t catch on in national circles until more than a decade after its initial manufacture, eventually it became much sought after.

“Bundt was our first success,” Dalquist later said.

In the 1960s, Dalquist caught the attention of the president of Pillsbury, who agreed that his company would make a cake mix especially for the Bundt pan. And in 1966, the winner of the Pillsbury Grand National Bake-off used a Bundt pan. Nordic Ware claims there are now more than 45 million Bundt pans in use, making it “the most popular baking mold in America.”

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