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December/January 2016

Cake Stands

What Makes a Great Cake Stand?

How We Tested

You can decorate a cake on a plate, but a good cake stand makes it faster and easier by elevating the cake for better visibility and by rotating for quick and even frosting application.

We still like our previous winner from Ateco, but if its top and base are not 100 percent dry before assembly, they rust together and stop the top from spinning. This simply requires extra care, but we started wondering—is there a better option?

To find out, we surveyed the market and saw seven new models, priced from about $23 to $80. We tested them against new copies of the Ateco, rating each stand on height, weight, stability, surface, and rotation.

Height and stability were paramount: Shorter stands, at about 3 inches tall, made us hunch over, which hurt our backs and didn’t give us a clear view of the cake; taller stands, at 4.5 to 6 inches tall, were much more comfortable to use and allowed us to see all angles of the cake. (Weight was less of an issue; only one stand, our previous winner, felt a bit heavy to some.)

One pricey new model ($80) tilted for better access to the bottom edge of the cake, but it was jerky and unpredictable—it sent a whole cake crashing to the counter twice. Another stand with stability issues required a plate from our kitchen to hold the cake, which then sat atop the stand to spin but never felt secure.

Every other stand has you load your cake layers directly on top, no plate required (though you may choose to use a cardboard cake round). Testers preferred smooth surfaces with very shallow circles etched on top to help center the cakes; some stands didn’t have guidelines, while others’ guidelines were too pronounced, causing our tools to clunk down into them while we were smoothing on frosting. As for removing the cakes, they all performed equally well whether we were taking just a slice or moving the cakes whole.

Rotation was trickier—some were too stiff, and others were too loose; the best were smooth and fast with precise bearings that allowed us to stop the spin in one motion. In the end we still liked our previous winner from Ateco, but another model earned the top spot. At just under $30, it was about $20 cheaper than the Ateco and had two additional features that testers liked: an attached base and surface for easy transporting and rust-free washing and guides on its surface for centering—two handy features that helped make decorating like a pro that much easier

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.