Update: November 2010
Recently we learned that our favorite cast-aluminum 12-cup Bundt pan by Nordic Ware has been discontinued and that our 2004 Best Buy Bundt Pan from Baker's Secret was "downsized" and no longer holds 12 cups. Looking for a worthy replacement, we turned to the updated Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan ($31.95), which, like our old favorite, is made of cast aluminum but now sports a silver platinum nonstick finish and can hold up to 15 cups of batter. Our classic Yellow Bundt Cake rose high, browned perfectly, and released without a moment's hesitation in the new pan. Handles helped us grip and flip the pan, and the raised design of the cake was crisp and attractive. A boon to bakers, this latest Bundt incarnation is our new favorite.
Bundt pans were introduced by Nordic Ware (which is still in possession of the registered trademark) in the 1950s, based on the traditional cast-iron Kugelhopf molds of Eastern Europe. (A kugel is a baked pudding, but a Kugelhopf is a yeasted bread common to much of Europe, especially Austria, Germany and Poland.) These fluted, turban-shaped baking pans eventually gained widespread popularity, largely thanks to a slew of Bundt cake mixes marketed by Pillsbury.
To assess quality and performance, we tested six nonstick pans. Ranging in price from $9.99 to $31.99, each had a simple ridged design and a minimum capacity of 12 cups. In addition to preparing our chocolate Bundt cake in each pan, we baked vanilla pound cakes to test for evenness and depth of browning.
Ease of release was our top concern. All of the chocolate cakes released easily, but some of the pound cakes did stick. All of the pound cakes baked properly, varying in cooking time from 5 to 10 minutes, although some were not as evenly browned in the center (the only cake with no color at all was baked in the silicone pan.) Some pans lost points for design flaws— specifically, an unsightly crease where the center tube and the ring were joined. In the end we found two winners. The best performer overall (also the most expensive) had the best shape (with the most clearly defined ridges), it browned cake evenly and deeply and released it easily. The runner-up was half the price. Although it was made of lightweight material, it passed all of our tests with above-average results.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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