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Bake-and-Give Loaf Pans

By Cook's Illustrated Published December 2011

How we tested

Bake-and-give pans are single-use pans for giving away baked goods. They are disposable and inexpensive and can handle the oven temperatures required for most baking recipes. They also help keep tender loaves from getting smashed in transit. While these products are sold in many shapes, we tested three “mini” loaf pans, priced from 58 cents to $1.50 each (they are sold as sets). Two brands, both made of paper, were oven-safe to 390 degrees. One, made of thin wood, was safe to 450 degrees.

We baked our Chocolate Pound Cake and Zucchini Bread in them (both recipes are formulated for an 8 1/2 by 5 1/2-inch pan), filling each small pan exactly to the recommended two-thirds level and taking note of how many mini loaf pans one batch of batter filled. All were easy to use; none required greasing, and no cakes stuck to the pans. With every brand we tested, the loaves browned nicely and cooled in their containers without becoming soggy. So, our decision largely came down to appearance: The wooden brand was awkwardly shaped and oversized for a mini pan, making only 1 1/2 loaves; one of the two paper brands looked plastic and cheap. Our favorite cost $6 for four pans, which are oven-safe to 390 degrees. One batch of batter made five small loaves with nicely domed tops, and the dark brown, gold-embossed paper pans were festive. A bonus: Each set comes with clear gift bags and gold ties—a complete package for homemade gifts.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*