It is no small feat to craft a rendition of a dish so classic as meatloaf that surprises and delights in new ways. But no challenge is too much for the sake of celebrating Beef Week. This is the brave and inspiring creation story behind our most epic Meatloaf Bundt Cake.
Photo: Sara Tane
| Credit: Sara Tane

There is something charming about meatloaf. Even if you are a 20-something who maybe didn’t even grow up eating it often (or ever), meatloaf feels pleasantly nostalgic. With its tomato glaze and trusty sides of green beans and mashed potatoes, meatloaf is straightforward comfort food at it’s finest. So when tasked with brainstorming recipes for our upcoming Beef Week here at MyRecipes, meatloaf was an obvious candidate. We wanted to honor its classic simplicity, but give it a makeover that would wow. Ultimately, instead of going modern, we decided to throw back. Back to the days of gelatin molds and bundt pans playing a significant role in every impressive dinner party. Thus, the idea for Meatloaf Bundt Cake was born.

The execution is a whole other story.

We knew we wanted to create more than just a meatloaf shaped in a bundt pan (as opposed to a loaf), and what is more popular than having all of the elements of your meal represented in one pan? Everyone loves meat-and-potatoes, so why not combine the two into one beefy beauty? We approached this savory bundt like any other cake would be treated—frosting and garnishes included. Once we designed the final product in our minds, we knew we had concocted something that the world hadn’t quite seen before. We were ready to #BreakTheInternet with our meatloaf masterpiece.

Credit: Photo: Sara Tane

Let’s just say grocery shopping for a meatloaf bundt cake can lead to raised eyebrows at checkout. As we, just two average girls grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon, piled four pounds of ground chuck, two bottles of ketchup, boxed mashed potato flakes, prepared beef gravy, and French onion mix onto the counter, it didn't come as much of a shock that the checkout clerk would be curious. He looked to us, and back down to the ingredients, then back to our beaming faces and laughed, “What in the world are y’all making today?” We explained the recipe concept, Beef Week 2017, and our plans to serve the perfected version at a Super Bowl party. His response: “Great, I’ll see you at the Super Bowl party with your meat cake!”

We were glad to have the support of our community in this very important culinary endeavour.

Arriving to the test kitchen that afternoon felt like we were embarking upon what was sure to be a risky, but profound, mission, equipped with pounds of ground beef and bottles of ketchup to carry us through. We were finally ready for this cake and all of its meaty glory. I grew up making meatloaf with my mom so the recipe was inspired by her, with some Southern touches. Her secret ingredient? Milk. Mixing ½ cup of milk into a pounds of a raw ground beef mixture with your bare hands might sound like the most vile thing ever, but it really works. Milk is the key to every great meatloaf, and you’re welcome for this life-changing fact. (Gross as it sounds, making meatloaf is actually somewhat cathartic for me because of the memories I formed making it with my mom.) Once we combined the eggs, beef, spices, sauteed vegetables, breadcrumbs, and milk, it was time to mix. And like I said--mix with your hands; there are no spoons allowed when it comes to meatloaf. But trust me, it’s something of an out of body experience, gently massaging chilled, raw meat with your fingertips (don’t knock it till you try it). It makes the process of building this bundt cake all the more meaningful.

Credit: Photo: Sara Tane

Once the prepared meat mixture was packed to the very top of the bundt pan, it was time to bake. We knew we wanted the outside to be nicely browned and have a signature tomato glaze, so after 45 minutes of cooking in the oven, we removed the cake and poured off excess liquid (necessary). After a few walkarounds and looking at it from all angles, we decided to move forward and take the meatloaf out of the pan. As with any removal of a cake from its pan, unloading 4 pounds of beef from a bundt can be very nerve racking... all of the labor and love could be potentially ruined in a matter of seconds. I was too nervous after feeling so personally connected to this cake, so I let my colleague, Sara, do it. Peering through my fingers (that I swear I washed thoroughly after mixing meat) covering my eyes, I watched as she flipped the bundt pan onto an inverted baking sheet. The moment had come. It was time to remove the pan and expose our meatloaf to the world. The pan came off seamlessly in one try. I felt like a gymnast at the Olympics who just nailed the balanced beam. What a feeling!

However, we hadn’t reached the gold medal stage just yet. After brushing with the tomato glaze and cooking the meatloaf for another 30 minutes, it was time for the grand finale. I’m willing to be those words have never before been used to refer to instant potatoes, onion dip, and prepared beef gravy... but just you wait.

Once the meatloaf cooled slightly, our real artistry was to be unleashed. Neither of us went to pastry school, but with a plastic bag, a microwave, and unshakeable determination, anything is possible. We filled the plastic bag with the prepared mashed potatoes, trimmed one corner of the bag, and started piping the potatoes at the base of the bundt cake. We delicately drizzled gravy over the top of the glistening tomato glaze. Next, we filled the center of the bundt with creamy French onion dip. And finally, we sprinkled crispy onions and chopped fresh parsley as the finishing touches. As I type this and reminisce on that moment, Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers plays in my head. It was such a beautiful and gracefully ballet-esque beef experience.

We took a step back to examine our work. It was everything we imagined and more. As we cut into it, the French onion dip flowed freely, but acted as the perfect layer of frosting as we took a bite of the unbelievably moist (thanks, Mom) meatloaf. Since that moment, we have been ecstatic in anticipation of sharing our creation with the masses during this Beef Week, and spreading the purest joy that is Meatloaf Bundt Cake. We hope you decide to make it and bring this level of bliss into your own home, a level of bliss that can only be found via bundt-shaped meat covered in savory condiments, as well as foods traditionally eaten as appetizers and side dishes. To the world, you are welcome.

By Katherine Flynn and Katherine Flynn