Recipe Revamping: Pumpkin Tunnel Cake

“Calories: Tiny evil creatures which live in your closet and quietly sew your clothes tighter every night.”

The above was written on a pillow sitting in a store window, and my son pointed it out to me, thinking it would make me laugh. He was right! I’m convinced these creatures have been multiplying in my closet over the past few years. What else would account for my clothes beginning to become more snug as I age? *grin*

I thought about the pillow when I received an email asking if I could revamp a recipe not just for allergies but to reduce overall calories. The recipe in question was for a tunnel cake and called for a total of six eggs, a cup of butter, and 12 ounces of cream cheese, so it’s no wonder the request was being made!

If you’re not familiar with a tunnel cake, it’s simply a bundt cake with a filling inside. They’re fun cakes to make wonderful to serve to guests because they look pretty and taste lovely. This particular cake was a pumpkin ginger cream cheese cake. The original recipe called for the filling: 12 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 large eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 cup crystallized ginger; and for the cake: 2 1/4 cup flour, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tbsp ground ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 15 oz can pumpkin, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, 4 large eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla.

To revamp the cake:

The Filling: To tackle the calories and the allergies to dairy, I opted to use tofu cream cheese and tofu sour cream in place of the regular cream cheese and sour cream, and I decreased the amounts by half. Even with half of the filling, there was plenty to fill the “tunnel” and to give the cake it’s pretty look and it’s surprise taste. I opted to keep one whole egg in the filling because it would help with the texture of the filling, figuring I could do something about the amount of eggs in the cake itself. To further reduce calories (and because I never use white refined sugar), I used Truvia in place of the sugar, which meant I could use half the amount needed.

The Cake: Because the person emailing couldn’t eat gluten, I swapped a gluten free blend for the white flour, but I didn’t want to use a rice flour blend for the entire cake, so I only used 1 1/2 cups of a GF blend and used sorghum and gluten free oat flour for the rest of the amount to add protein and fiber to the cake as well as to give the texture of the cake some density. I also chose to use 3/4 c of Agave instead of the 2 cups of sugar which further reduced calories as well as getting rid of the refined white sugar. To tackle the bad fat in the butter, I opted for safflower oil instead and reduced the amount to 3/4 cup. For the eggs, I decided to use 2 eggs and use 1/2 cup of egg whites for the rest.

The cake came out quite lovely. I served it to guests who asked for the recipe because they liked it so much! Below is the recipe as I made it. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Ginger Tunnel Cake


Ginger Filling:

6 oz Tofutti cream cheese, room temp (3/4 cup)

1/4 cup Tofutti sour cream, room temp

1 1/2 tbsp Truvia

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg

1/4 tsp gluten free vanilla

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (I chop it in my food processor into tiny pieces)

The Pumpkin Cake:

1 1/2 cup Gluten Free rice flour blend

1/4 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup oat flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

2 cups pumpkin, cooked and pureed or canned

3/4 cup Agave

3/4 cup safflower oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup liquid egg whites

1 tsp gluten free vanilla

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a Bundt pan with your preferred method. Just make sure that you’ve covered every crevice well so that your cake will easily come out when you invert it. Nothing is worse than the top of your bundt cake sticking to the pan!
  2. Using a mixer, blend the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the sour cream, truvia, ginger, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and crystallized ginger. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the gluten free flour blend, sorghum flour, oat flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
  4. Mix together the pumpkin, agave, oil, egg, egg whites, and vanilla.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet with the vinegar and mix well until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.
  6. Fill the prepared bundt pan half full and make a little tunnel in the batter for the filling.
  7. Give the filling a good stir because the ginger pieces would have have fallen to the bottom. Carefully spoon the filling into the tunnel. It will probably spill out a bit. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.
  8. Carefully add the rest of the cake batter to cover the filling.
  9. Bake for about 40 minutes until the cake has risen, is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  10. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes, better to do 25 to 30. Carefully invert and remove the cake from the pan. Cool completely.



Introduction: Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too!

website cake slice

Our cake was masquerading as a brick.

One day, my friend, Holly, and I decided to bake a cake; something we’ve successfully done many times before.  On that particular afternoon, however, we were distracted by a hopeful conversation about Scott and C.J., two boys we liked.  As such, we neglected to notice that we had forgotten to include a couple of key ingredients.

Hence, the brick.

Holly and I learned two significant life lessons that day.  One, if you’re not careful, boys can be disastrously distracting; and two, certain ingredients are absolutely essential for good baking.

Changes in Ingredients:

In the years since that fateful cake, I’ve discovered, though, that which ingredients are the important ones is highly debatable.  Butter, milk, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda.  A couple of centuries of experience have proven these to be faithful and true.  In the last few decades, however, these traditional baking friends have come under attack.

Butter contributes to heart disease.  A new generation of children is growing up lactose intolerant.  Diabetes is on the rise.  Hypertension and high blood pressure plague many an adult.  More and more people are being diagnosed with gluten allergies.  Every other week the verdict changes about whether eggs are good or bad.

Our choices

For some, the delight and comfort of a well-timed dessert is now a distant memory in light of new health trends.  Others simply ignore the risks and continue with their indulgent whims, believing a short-live life with dessert is preferable to a long life without chocolate cake.

If you’ve come to this site, though, then you may be like me – unwilling to be cowed into such either-or thinking.  If so, then I invite you to read more and learn how you can have your cake and eat it, too!

Paula’s Favorite Cake:  Ginger Bundt Cake Recipe


2 ½ cups 100% whole wheat flour or sorghum flour or your favorite GF whole grain flour blend

1 tsp gluten free baking powder (increase to 2 tsp if using the gluten free sorghum flour)

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2/3 cup safflower oil (you use canola oil or another type, if you want)

2/3 cup Agave 

½ cup Truvia

½ cup Toffuti vegan sour cream (you can also use regular sour cream)

Egg whites equivalent to 3 eggs or 3 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 9 tablespoons of water 

3 tbsp grated ginger

2/3 cup room temperature ginger ale

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a bundt pan for use.  (I usually use a napkin to coat the pan with a little bit of oil and then I add a tbsp of flour and carefully tilt the pan around over my trash can until the pan is completely covered.) 

2.  Mix the whole wheat flour or gluten free flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

3.  Mix oil, Agave, Truvia, sour cream, egg whites or flaxseed mixture, and ginger.

4.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with the ginger ale, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.*  Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

5.  Evenly spread batter into bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

6.  Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.**

* At this step you can also choose to add 1 cup of mini chocolate chips or finely diced fruit like apples or finely diced dried fruit like dates to the batter just before you mix in the ginger ale.

** The cake can be eaten plain, with vanilla ice cream or with sautéed fruit like apples or pears, which you can slice, sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg or ginger, and cook until soft.