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The Importance of Tube Pans

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2013

Why do recipes for angel food cake and chiffon cake always call for a tube pan?

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There’s a good reason angel food and chiffon cakes are always baked in tube pans, and it’s not just aesthetics. These specialty vessels actually help delicate cakes rise. Because egg foam–based cakes like angel food and chiffon contain very little flour, and therefore very little of the structure-building network called gluten, the batter needs something to cling to as it bakes, or it will collapse. Enter the tube pan’s tall sides: As the egg foam heats up, it will climb up the sides (and conical center) of the pan. But its lofty structure isn’t sturdy until the cake cools—which is why angel food and chiffon cakes are often cooled upside down on the pan’s tripod feet.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Don’t try baking traditional angel food or chiffon cakes in conventional cake or jelly roll pans; they will fall.

WELL RISEN: A tube pan is essential for egg foam–based cakes.

COLLAPSED: Angel food or chiffon cake baked in a conventional pan falls flat.