Round cake pans are a staple for every baker’s kitchen. I use them for simple cakes and layer cakes, and use mine to bake a variety of round breads and other dishes, too. Not all cake pans are created equal. Some brown more than others, some have sloped sides that make for irregular cakes that are difficult to stack, and some seem to produce cakes with high domes time and time again. In a recent issue of Cook’s Country (Oct/ Nov 2013), the test kitchen set out to see which pans performed the best and were worth keeping in your pan collection.
The looked for pans that were solidly built and would hold up to use without warping or wearing out. They wanted pans with straight sides and preferred if they also had a nonstick finish so that baked goods would slide out easily. They tested them thoroughly with cakes, cinnamon buns and pan pizza dough recipes before picking a winner.
The top prize went to Nordic Ware Naturals 9-inch Cake Pan, which turned out evenly baked, fluffy cakes time after time. It was a relatively light colored pan, which typically means that it will not over-brown the edges of a cake. It also means that it might not brown some yeast breads enough. Since the pan is primarily used for cakes, it still took top billing with a “Highly Recommended” recommendation.
The second and third place pans were also “Recommended,” and had slightly darker finishes that resulted in better browning for yeast bread doughs, like pan pizza. USA Pan 9-inch Round Cake Pan did a slightly better job on layer cakes, however, than the very dark Chicago Metallic Nonstick 9-inch Pan. Pans that lacked a nonstick finish rated lower because they had difficulty getting some baked goods to release from them.