How Do I Choose the Best Deep Cake Pan?

Melanie Greenwood

Whether you're making a layer cake, a large sheet cake, or a holiday pound cake, you need to select the right cake pan. Poor-quality cake pans can ruin your baked goods. The best deep cake pan has a smooth general shape, is made of a rigid material, has specific dimensions, and has a moderate weight.

Low-quality baking pans can cause your cake batter to stick or burn.
Low-quality baking pans can cause your cake batter to stick or burn.

The first thing to look for in a deep cake pan is a general shape. Round or square cake pans don't usually present many problems, but you should check the interior surface. Good round or square pans have a smooth surface, without any cracks or "nonstick" pebbling, both of which will hang onto batter. Bundt cake pans should have a generally round shape with shallow rather than deep ridges. Stay away from specialty-shaped or decorated pans, since highly decorated cake pans, like Victorian-style pans, have a tendency to stick or cause burning, not to mention the fact that they are generally more expensive than their simpler counterparts.

Another thing to look for in a quality cake pan is material. You want a rigid cake pan made from oven-proof glass or aluminum. Though there are many types of silicone cake pans available, don't be tempted by them. Because of their floppy nature, silicon cake pans are hard to fill, spill easily, and are hard to carry when loaded with us with batter. This is a real problem when you’re working with a heavy batter, such as pound cake batter.

A good quality deep cake pan will also have a specific depth and width. Standard cake pans should be at least two inches (five centimeters) deep so as to prevent spills. Bunt-style pan should be at least eight inches (20.5 centimeters) deep. The width of a quality cake pan should be at least eight inches (20.5 centimeters) when measured from inside edged inside edge. Smaller pans burn more easily, while larger ones are hard to work with.

The final thing to look for in a quality deep cake pan is weight. Generally, a cake pan should have a moderate weight. Thin, light pans let heat pass through them too quickly, which makes burning more likely. Heavy pans, by contrast, may be too difficult to work when when loaded with a heavy batter. Look for a cake pan that feels sturdy but not too heavy.

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