I Used to Bake Professionally and This Is the One Pan I Keep Coming Back To
Minimal effort, maximum results.
Here’s a little secret that no one ever tells you about baking: You’re only as good as your bakeware.
I first noticed this more than 10 years ago when I was working as a pastry cook. I had just graduated from culinary school and landed a job at the 21 Club (a prohibition-era speakeasy-turned-restaurant that attracted more than a few celebrities and VIPs). Every night our pastry kitchen would turn out hundreds of pretty, little pastries and thousands of picture-perfect petit fours.
I was really good at my job so you can imagine my confusion when I was unable to recreate these same recipes at home. I would measure and mix with precision, follow the recipe to perfection – but when I opened the oven door the final product was never quite what I expected.
The explanation? My bakeware (which I had purchased on a fresh-out-of-culinary-school budget) wasn’t doing me any favors.
I’m more experienced now. I’ve slowly built up a collection of good-quality pans – pieces that I’ll keep for years. And, guess what? They work! But, despite having a cabinet full of reliable bakeware, there’s one pan that I reach for more than any other: a sturdy cast aluminum Bundt.
It’s my go-to for so many reasons. Aluminum distributes heat evenly so pastries bake and brown to perfection. The pan is versatile and can be used for everything from cakes and monkey bread to lasagna and cheesy scalloped potatoes. The non-stick surface makes clean-up easy. My list goes on and on.
But that’s not what sets the Bundt pan apart for me. Do you remember when I said, “you’re only as good as your bakeware”? Well, the magic of the Bundt pan is that it makes you better. You can follow the same steps that you would when making a basic cake (butter and flour your pan, mix the batter and bake) but the end result will make you look like a pro, every single time. No additional effort. No special skills needed.
Not surprisingly, there’s always room for another Bundt pan in my kitchen – so I’ve constantly got my eye out for what’s new, interesting or on sale. Looking to pick one up? Ready to add to your collection? Here are a few you’ll love.
BUY IT: Williams Sonoma, $30.40
The blossoming petal design of this pan is perfect for spring. And, if you own any other pieces by Nordic Ware then you already know that their bakeware is super affordable and top quality.
BUY IT: Sur la Table, $29.96
Craftsmanship is key with Bundt pans. This one was designed to feature really deep, dramatic grooves and sharp edges — which give the finished cake an impressive, well-defined design.
BUY IT: Food 52, $38
You can’t go wrong with this three-pan set. The simplicity of the classic, fluted design (and the fact that you get a small, medium and large pan) make this set incredibly versatile. Bake a mini cake for one — or a ring-shaped spanakopita for a crowd.
BUY IT: Amazon, $29.99
This version of the classic Bundt pan features two handles, which make the pan easy to maneuver. Added bonus? You can easily hang the pan on a hook for storage — or decoration!
BUY IT: Nordic Ware, $40
Mesmerized by the geometric pattern of this Bundt? Good news: Your cake will slide right out of this pan (and look perfect) thanks to an easy-release, non-stick coating on its interior.
BUY IT: Williams Sonoma, $27.20
You can buy this pan in large or cakelet sizes, but I like the small, 5-cup capacity version. Like a little burst of sunshine, it’s the perfect choice when you want to bake something special — but don’t need to feed a crowd.