Cooks Illustrated reviews cake strips

Cake Strips

Cake strips are bands of material that wrap around the exterior of a cake pan, providing insulation and keeping cakes from baking unevenly. At least, this is what cake strips intend to do. Cakes usually bake from the outside in, with the edges of the cake baking before the center of the cake because the batter bakes faster when it is in contact with the metal (or glass) of a cake pan. By insulating the sides of a pan, the pan itself heats up less quickly and you end up with a cake that has evenly baked thanks to the heat of the oven and not just the heat of the pan. It is very similar to using a water bath when baking a cheesecake or custard.

A good oven with a reliable oven thermometer and good quality bakeware is often all you need to prevent any baking uneveness, but cake strips say they can help, so Cooks Illustrated set out to test them in their recent (Jan/Feb 2011) issue. They tested Rose’s Heavenly Cake Strip by Rose Levy Beranbaum, Regency Evenbake Cake Strips by Regency Wraps, Magi-Cake Strips by JT Products and Wilton Bake Even Cake Strips, as well as homemade cake strips, with yellow cake and gingerbread recipes. The homemade strips were made by wrapping wet cheesecloth in aluminum foil to form a band and tying it around a pan. The homemade strips worked well, but were somewhat less convenient than using a ready-made strip.

Rose’s Heavenly Cake Strip came out to be the highest rated. This silicone strip slips around both 8- and 9-inch cake pans easily and performed well, keeping cakes even without doming, cracking or creating crusty edges. Regency Evenbake Cake Strips came in as the second choice of the test kitchen, fitting a wide variety of pan sizes and keeping cakes nice and evenly baked. The JT Products strips and the Wilton Strips were not rated as well in the CI test, as they were almost too good at insulating the cakes and produced rounds that were moist and spongy, like steamed cakes, which the test kitchen did not like as much as more tender cakes.

11 comments

  1. I’ve used tin-foil but am unsure as to its effectiveness. If you use an aluminium cake-pan, maybe tin-foil is just a waste.
    Have you tried one of these? If you haven’t and do, I’d appreciate a review! :)

  2. i don’t get why people say that a cake being moist and spngy is a bad thing? i prefer my cakes that way.

  3. Jessika – I haven’t, but I definitely will soon!

    sevenmarie – I think that they use spongy to contrast with a cake that is tender. It’s not necessarily a bad thing at all for a cake to be that way (like a chiffon cake or angel food cake) but when you have a cake that is intended to be really tender, like a rich butter cake, it shouldn’t turn out that way in a test. So, I agree that it’s not bad in general, just in this instance it wasn’t how that particular recipe should have turned out.

  4. I’m becoming grumpy in my old age…it’s a cake, we shouldn’t have to prep so much it takes the fun away from baking.

  5. In your test, it is mathematically impossible for a 30″ strip to not fit around a 9″ round pan. Circumference=pi, times diameter. 3.14159265 x 9 =28.2743″

  6. You mention strips in your test introduction as magic strips without mention that Magi-cake strips are the Original, 36 year old, American-made baking strips and the others are foreign-made copycat reproductions of the original.

  7. All good for round but I do 13X9 slabs and that needs a 44″ strip. Maybe I’ll make my own and try it.

  8. Brad,
    The great thing about the 39 year old, American-made, MAGI-CAKE Strips, is you can attach them end-to-end, to fit ANY size or shape of cake pan, with the handy clips that are included. (you can bend the clips back into shape, there are no sharp points, they are easy to grasp, and allow for on pan tightening of the strips).
    Also, because MAGI-CAKE Strips are made with cotton threads, and cotton backed aluminum, they are safe to 450 degrees for use on casseroles,
    Happy Baking

  9. I bought these cake strips on Amozon for 20 dollars plus tax. I’ve used them twice so far and found no difference in the doming of my cakes, as a matter of fact they may have domed even higher. I used them on tapers wall pans, and they stayed on the pans well till taking them out of the oven, at witch time they were falling off. I also naught the Wilton brand that you soak in water before use and had the same result,except they stayed on the pans better. I even have a thermometer in my oven to make sure it right on 350. I don’t know what else to try. :-(

  10. Mark-I would try baking at 325. I was just reading on the Wilson site about these strips and the folks there all agreed to bake cakes at 325 is the way to go. It takes longer they said but worth it. And they all swore by the strips. I’ve been reading about them because i am awaiting the arrival of my own set from King Arthur Flour. I have a dome cake problem and can’t wait to try these out. And I’ll bake at 325 too and see how that goes. Hope this helps. And keep working at it!!! Even cake baked not so pretty can be pretty tastey-if even only for yourself!

  11. circumference is PI times the RADIUS, squared .. not the DIAMETER .. diameter is merely the radius, doubled.
    Magi-cake strips have worked for me for over twenty years of baking cakes. the strips are thicker than the others
    and there’s no crusty melting Velcro to fumble with. I soak them thoroughly by submerging them inside an unused
    French Press coffee thing, with the plunger holding the strips under water while I mix the cake(s). I prefer the good old
    pins to the clasps because you don’t end up with battered fingers and frayed nerves. None of the yuppie/hipster cooking
    stores in my vicinity carry the Magi-cake brand (most don’t even carry cake strips at all) so hooray for the internet.

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