Archive for: pan review
Checkerboard cake pan sets have been around for quite some time now. The sets typically include a plastic insert that allows you to add multiple colors of cake batter into one pan without the colors running together, so you end up with a geometric design instead of a marbled one. Wilton took this idea to a smaller format and came up with Two Tone Cupcake Inserts. The inserts are plastic rings that allow you to easily put one color or flavor of cupcake batter inside a ring of differently flavored batter. In short, you can get two cupcakes in one and end up with a dessert that looks very cool when you bite into it.
The instructions for using the inserts are brief: drop the insert into the muffin pan (with wrappers or without), fill the center ring with batter then fill the outer ring. The insert only makes three cupcakes at a time, so when you are done with one row, you simply lift it straight up and place it into the next slots on your muffin pan. I regularly make cupcakes that have some type of cream filling inside, so making one with another cake flavor inside was a treat!
Donut and mini donut pans are a fun piece of bakeware to have in the kitchen. Baked donuts tend to be lower in fat than their deep fried counterparts, and they’re even easier to make. Wilton introduced a Doughnut Twist Pan a few months ago that bakes twist-shaped donuts (also called crullers at many donut shops, even though they’re not made the same way as traditional French crullers). I happen to be a big fan of these twisty donuts and kept an eye out for this particular pan when I was out shopping so that I could give it a try myself.
The pan bakes 6 twist donuts, each about the size of the standard twist that you would see in a donut shop. The packaging comes with a recipe that is scaled to fit the pan, but a standard size muffin recipe should work well with the pan and allow you to fill the cups 2/3 full, as directed (simply discard excess batter if you have it, or bake it off in a separate pan. I simply used the recipe that came on the packaging, adding a few flavor twists with subsequent batches. The pan is nonstick and it released my donuts very easily.
The donuts look fantastic just out of the pan – and the recipe that comes with the packaging is quite good. Only one side has the twist design, of course, but it wraps around the donut in such a way that it really looks like the “real thing.” I brushed mine with some melted butter and rolled them in sugar when they were still hot, then allowed them to cool before serving. Overall, the pan performed exceptionally well in terms of how evenly it baked and how easily it released the finished donuts. The design is fun and unique, too, meaning that this is a pan that will be put to good when I have a brunch occasion to bake for!
NordicWare’s Filled Cupcakes Pan is easily one of the most fun looking pans I’ve played with in quite some time. The pan has a very unusual concept because it lets you bake both the bottom and the top of a cupcake out of cake (where the top would usually be just frosting) and puts a small cavity in the middle for adding some filling. You end up with double-sized cupcakes that have a convenient place for the filling to go and, although I like ordinary cupcakes quite a bit, I was curious about how cakes made with the pan would work out – especially after I found a pan on sale to bring home.
Like most NordicWare pans I’ve used, the cakes came out of the nonstick cavities quite easily. As with most cakes that offer a significant amount of detail, I still prefer lightly greasing the pan and adding a little flour to ensure that the cake doesn’t stick in any corners. While the pan’s pattern came out clearly, the cake batter I used rose enough to give every one of my shapes a domed top – which was far from idea for cakes that I intented to stack together! After I leveled all of my mini cakes, I didn’t have quite as clean a look to the finished treats as I had hoped, but they were still pretty darn cute to look out (and tasty enough that it wouldn’t have mattered if they had been seriously off anyway).
Since I first saw Nordicware’s Heritage Bundt Pan at a Williams-Sonoma store over two years ago, I’ve wanted one. I don’t have an extensive collection of bundt pans – although I wouldn’t mind it – just because they’re fairly large and I generally try to wait until I have a bit of extra storage space before adding a new one to my kitchen. I made a little room in my pantry, and went out to pick up my very own Heritage Bundt just a few weeks ago.
This pan is gorgeous, with deep ridges and a swirling design. It is made of heavy cast aluminum and has a nonstick interior. I wanted to whip up a Tiramisu Bundt Cake for a New Year’s party, so I made the batter and poured it straight into the pan – no greasing, no flouring – for a trial run. I usually grease and flour my bundt pans to ensure that the cake comes out cleanly, whether they’re nonstick or not. Nonstick coatings don’t last indefinitely, so this is a great safeguard for older pans, as well as a means to prevent chocolate chips, nuts or other mix-ins from sticking to the bundt pan and leaving gaps in your finished cake. I expected a brand new nonstick pan to give me no problems and it met my expectations. The cake easily slid out of the pan and was, to put it mildly, stunning to look at. The ridges looked just as good on the cake as they did on the pan. I originally planned to glaze the cake, but it was so pretty that I simply served it plain – to a very appreciative audience.
I’ll be getting a lot of use out of this pan in the future and am glad that I finally added it to the collection!
I am a big fan of the Baker’s Edge pan, which I have had for a number of years and use frequently to make bar cookies and cakes (especially coffee cakes). I don’t use mine for savory dishes, but it turns out that the design was very popular with fans of lasagna and baked pasta dishes because it was so easy to serve straight from the pan. So, the Baker’s Edge people came up with the Simple Lasagna Pan, which is a deep-dish variation of the classic edge pan designed especially for – you guessed it – lasagna.
I recently tried out the pan and can definitely say it a number of benefits. It is easy to stack up all your layers neatly and it is very easy to slice the finished dish, because the lasagna isn’t able to ooze all over the place when you cut into it with a knife. The pan is heavy cast aluminum and is nonstick (it comes with a nonstick-friendly spatula that is the perfect size to fit in the pan), so it is easy to get your food out, as well as easy to clean. The deep-dish design lets you make heartier dishes without overflowing the pan.
The only real drawback I found was that my usual brands of lasagna (fresh noodles and some dried Italian brands) don’t fit in the pan! You need a long, thin lasagna noodle (should be available at most grocery stores since most “big” brands make these, but probably not available at “gourmet” stores where 7×3.5 or so is a more typical size) to make this pan work. Otherwise, the pan works well. Since you can make anything that would fit in the regular Baker’s Edge pan in this one, too, if you do more savory baking you might want to stick with this model to start out with.
Note: This Beef, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna works out very well in this deep-dish pan, and a classic Meat Lasagna is a good choice, too.