Published January 1, 2005.
You shouldn’t need to stock several cake pans depending on the size of the finished cake. We wanted a one-size-fits-all cake pan.
When we tested 11 cake pans several years ago, we proclaimed the cheapest pan the best. We noted that the pan had flared rather than straight sides, but we found that frosting covered up this minor problem. Since then, however, we’ve discovered additional problems. Some cakes, such as our German Chocolate Cake, don’t have any frosting on the sides. And splitting a flared cake can create two cakes of different diameters creating a finished cake that is less sturdy and somewhat homely. Finally, we recently discovered that our Pineapple Upside-Down Cake barely fits into the rather squat previous winner, with sides that measure just 1 1/2 inches tall. Clearly, it was time to find a better all-purpose cake pan—one with straight, 2-inch-high sides.
We baked génoise, German chocolate cake, and pineapple upside-down cake in several pans that fit this description. All pans were passable, but the nonstick pans stood out. The dark coatings on these pans promoted better browning than shiny surfaces and yielded more attractive cakes. These pans weren’t perfect—they lacked handles (a nice addition to our previous winner)—but they are better suited to a wide range of cakes.