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January/February 2017

Bundt Pans

Our testing proved that all Bundt pans are not created equal.

How We Tested

A Bundt pan is a special tube pan with decorative ridges or fluting. It was introduced in 1950 by Nordic Ware at the request of a Minneapolis-area Jewish women’s group whose members wanted a lighter, easier-to-use version of the ring-shaped cast-iron pans used to make kugelhopf, a Central European yeast cake. But the pan didn’t truly start to become popular until 1966, when a chocolate Bundt cake called the Tunnel of Fudge took second place in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Sales boomed as home bakers across the country sought to make this cake for themselves. Today, Bundt pans are a common sight in kitchens everywhere.

We wanted to find the best Bundt pan—one that would be easy to use and would effortlessly release attractive, evenly browned cakes. So we bought seven 11- to 15-cup nonstick pans priced from $8.79 to $30.99 and used them to make our Classic Yellow Bundt Cake.

We were pleased to learn that all the Bundt pans made excellent, consistently browned cakes. Pans with dark interiors produced cakes that were a slightly deeper brown but were still entirely acceptable. Better still, all the pans released the cakes equally well, with no sticking. Capacity wasn’t an issue—because the pans differed primarily in height but not in diameter, 11.25-cup and 12-cup models produced cakes that had about the same dimensions as the one made in the 15-cup pan. And although we were concerned that some of the smaller pans might not be big enough to hold larger doughs—like our yeast-raised Monkey Bread—as they proofed and baked, even the 11.25-cup models did a fine job of containing the risen dough.

In the end, it was the design of each pan that mattered most—and specifically how that design affected ease of use and cake appearance. We preferred pans with handles, which made them easier to maneuver while greasing them, removing them from the oven, and turning out cakes. And we liked pans that had sharp, well-defined ridges because they produced more attractive, impressive-looking cakes than pans with gentle waves or fluting. As in our last testing, the Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan, $30.99, reigned supreme. It had thick, easy-to-grip handles, and it turned out perfectly browned cakes with dramatic peaks and valleys.

Methodology

We tested seven nonstick Bundt pans with capacities of 11 to 15 cups, priced from $8.79 to $30.99. We measured their capacities and then used them to make our Classic Yellow Bundt Cake, evaluating the pans for ease of use, release, and cake appearance. To double-check that pan capacity was not a significant factor, we used the smallest, darkest pan (the Norpro Nonstick Fluted Tube Pan) to proof and bake yeast-raised Monkey Bread. All pans were washed by hand 10 times and examined afterward for signs of damage.

Ease of Use: Pans that had handles were easier to grip and flip; they received more points.

Cake Appearance: We gave more points to pans that had deep, well-defined ridges or fluting.

Release: Pans that released the cakes easily received full points.

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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.