Bundt Pans

From Cook's Illustrated | January/February 2004

Unlike other cakes, Bundt cakes need no adornment; the distinct shape from the pan gives them an interesting design —if you can remove the cake easily.

Overview:

Update: November 2010

Recently we learned that our favorite cast-aluminum 12-cup Bundt pan by Nordic Ware has been discontinued and that our 2004 Best Buy Bundt Pan from Baker's Secret was "downsized" and no longer holds 12 cups. Looking for a worthy replacement, we turned to the updated Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Anniversary Bundt Pan, which, like our old favorite, is made of cast aluminum but now sports a silver platinum nonstick finish and can hold up to 15 cups of batter. Our classic Yellow Bundt Cake rose high, browned perfectly, and released without a moment's hesitation in the new pan. Handles helped us grip and flip the pan, and the raised design of the cake was crisp and attractive. A boon to bakers, this latest Bundt incarnation is our new favorite.

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Bundt pans were introduced by Nordic Ware (which is still in possession of the registered trademark) in the 1950s, based on the traditional cast-iron Kugelhopf molds of Eastern Europe. (A kugel is a baked… read more

Update: November 2010

Recently we learned that our favorite cast-aluminum 12-cup Bundt pan by Nordic Ware has been discontinued and that our 2004 Best Buy Bundt Pan from Baker's Secret was "downsized" and no longer holds 12 cups. Looking for a worthy replacement, we turned to the updated Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Anniversary Bundt Pan, which, like our old favorite, is made of cast aluminum but now sports a silver platinum nonstick finish and can hold up to 15 cups of batter. Our classic Yellow Bundt Cake rose high, browned perfectly, and released without a moment's hesitation in the new pan. Handles helped us grip and flip the pan, and the raised design of the cake was crisp and attractive. A boon to bakers, this latest Bundt incarnation is our new favorite.

___________________________________________________________


Bundt pans were introduced by Nordic Ware (which is still in possession of the registered trademark) in the 1950s, based on the traditional cast-iron Kugelhopf molds of Eastern Europe. (A kugel is a baked pudding, but a Kugelhopf is a yeasted bread common to much of Europe, especially Austria, Germany and Poland.) These fluted, turban-shaped baking pans eventually gained widespread popularity, largely thanks to a slew of Bundt cake mixes marketed by Pillsbury.

To assess quality and performance, we tested six nonstick pans. Ranging in price from $9.99 to $31.99, each had a simple ridged design and a minimum capacity of 12 cups. In addition to preparing our chocolate Bundt cake in each pan, we baked vanilla pound cakes to test for evenness and depth of browning.

Ease of release was our top concern. All of the chocolate cakes released easily, but some of the pound cakes did stick. All of the pound cakes baked properly, varying in cooking time from 5 to 10 minutes, although some were not as evenly browned in the center (the only cake with no color at all was baked in the silicone pan.) Some pans lost points for design flaws— specifically, an unsightly crease where the center tube and the ring were joined. In the end we found two winners. The best performer overall (also the most expensive) had the best shape (with the most clearly defined ridges), it browned cake evenly and deeply and released it easily. The runner-up was half the price. Although it was made of lightweight material, it passed all of our tests with above-average results.

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