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Bundt Pans

Published January 2017

How we tested

A Bundt pan is a special tube pan with decorative ridges or fluting. It was introduced in 1950 by Nordic Ware at the request of a Minneapolis-area Jewish women’s group whose members wanted a lighter, easier-to-use version of the ring-shaped cast-iron pans used to make kugelhopf, a Central European yeast cake. But the pan didn’t truly start to become popular until 1966, when a chocolate Bundt cake called the Tunnel of Fudge took second place in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Sales boomed as home bakers across the country sought to make this cake for themselves. Today, Bundt pans are a common sight in kitchens everywhere.

We wanted to find the best Bundt pan—one that would be easy to use and would effortlessly release attractive, evenly browned cakes. So we bought seven 11- to 15-cup nonstick pans priced from $8.79 to $30.99 and used them to make our Classic Yellow Bundt Cake.

We were pleased to learn that all the Bundt pans made excellent, consistently browned cakes. Pans with dark interiors produced cakes that were a slightly deeper brown but were still entirely acceptable. Better still, all the pans released the cakes equally well, with no sticking. Capacity wasn’t an issue—because the pans differed primarily in height but not in diameter, 11.25-cup and 12-cup models produced cakes that had about the same dimensions as the one made in the 15-cup pan. And although we were concerned that some of the smaller pans might not be big enough to hold larger doughs—like our yeast-raised Monkey Bread—as they proofed and baked, even the 11.25-cup models did a fine job of containing the risen dough.

In the end, it was the design of each pan that mattered most—and specifically how that design affected ease of use and cake appearance. We preferred pans with handles, which made them easier to maneuver while greasing them, removing them from the oven, and turning out cakes. And we liked pans that had sharp, well-defined ridges because they produced more attractive, impressive-looking cakes than pans with gentle waves or fluting. As in our last testing, the Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan, $30.99, reigned supreme. It had thick, easy-to-grip handles, and it turned out perfectly browned cakes with dramatic peaks and valleys.

Methodology

We tested seven nonstick Bundt pans with capacities of 11 to 15 cups, priced from $8.79 to $30.99. We measured their capacities and then used them to make our Classic Yellow Bundt Cake, evaluating the pans for ease of use, release, and cake appearance. To double-check that pan capacity was not a significant factor, we used the smallest, darkest pan (the Norpro Nonstick Fluted Tube Pan) to proof and bake yeast-raised Monkey Bread. All pans were washed by hand 10 times and examined afterward for signs of damage.

Ease of Use: Pans that had handles were easier to grip and flip; they received more points.

Cake Appearance: We gave more points to pans that had deep, well-defined ridges or fluting.

Release: Pans that released the cakes easily received full points.

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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*