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Choosing the best large cake pan depends on the type of cake that you’re making. There are standard pans in rectangular, square, and round shapes that can be used for single-layer or tiered cakes. Specialty pans exist for cheesecakes, angel food cakes, and bundt cakes, while novelty pans can intricately shape your dessert in a manner similar to a candy mold.
If you’re baking a large single layer sheet cake to serve for a social gathering, use a rectangular large cake pan as it will create the most number of pieces and be easiest to cut. Smaller rectangular pans can serve a dozen to two dozen people, while larger pans can serve up to a hundred guests. You can use a non-stick metal or glass pan, but you may need to adjust cooking time or temperature if using a dark metal pan.
A round or square large cake pan is best for single layer cakes for smaller gatherings as they’re easier to decorate elaborately. Silicone pans make for easy cleanup as they easily pop the cake out onto a platter. These pans can also be used to create the bottom layer of a tiered cake, in which case you would save money and time by purchasing a set of different sized pans to make the various tiers. The sets include small, medium, and large cake pans that are typically made of metal as it’s more durable.
Trying to remove a cheesecake from a regular round large cake pan can create unsightly cracks in the surface and sides, so it’s best to use a springform pan instead. Springform pans are metal cake pans with a turn knob that allows the sides to be lifted away. The cheesecake can either be served off the round bottom of the pan or easily slipped onto a serving platter.
An angel food, or tube, pan is a type of large cake pan that creates a distinctly-shaped cake. The metal round, tall pans have a vertical tube in the center that creates a perfect hole through the middle of your cake. These pans typically have no bottom like a regular cake pan and are usually make with metal. If you’re cooking a dense cake batter, this is the pan to use, as the shape allows for even heat distribution.
Bundt pans are similar to angel food pans as they are also deep with a vertical tube, but they also have a fluted exterior that creates a pattern on the outer edge of your cake. These pans don’t have a removable bottom so they can be glass or metal. Use this large cake pan if you're looking for an artistic flair to the final cake product.
Novelty large cake pans can create intricately-shaped cakes much like making candy in molds. These pans are metal or silicone, as it’s harder to get intricate impressions from glass pans. Use this type of pan if you’re baking a cake for a child’s birthday party or a themed party, with examples including cartoon characters, beehives, or blooming flowers.