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Cookware pans, pots & pans, pans: Choose the Best Cookware Pans for You!
 

The Best Bundt Pan

Welcome to FW Gear Guides. Each week on Wednesday, we publish a buyer’s guide for an essential piece of kitchen gear. Our recommendations come from real-world testing.

Is there such a thing as a best bundt pan? After narrowing the field based on online reviews, articles published by other sites and the recommendations of our favorite bundt-obsessed pro bakers, we assembled a lineup of five promising pans to test. After baking a bevy of bundt cakes, we found a clear favorite. Read on to discover what made one bundt pan better than all the others.

In Search of the Best Bundt Pan

© Sarah Karnasiewicz


Invented around 1950 by a young husband-and-wife team in Minnesota, and popularized during the 1960s by a Texas bake-off contestant, the bundt cake has since become an all-American classic—and the bundt pan, a modern kitchen essential. Originally conceived as a lightweight, modern alternative to the heavy cast iron cookware traditionally used to make the central European cake called kugelhopf, the pan’s basic design was simple: a round tube-shaped loaf with a hollow center and a decorative, fluted pattern around the body.

Today, variations on the form abound—bundts come in the shape of rosettes and castles and even pine forests—but from the simplest design to the most elaborate, the requirements of a quality bundt pan remain the same: it should be well-constructed to stand up to repeated use without denting or warping (which might mar the decorative shape); it should be generously-sized to accommodate the large batches of dough needed to feed a crowd (the name bundt is actually an adaptation of the German word bund, which loosely means “an alliance or gathering”); it should yield a cake that is evenly browned and shapely, with the well-defined curves that are the hallmark of the form; and it should be non-stick, allowing the cake to release effortlessly from the pan’s ridges and crevices without cracking or sticking.

© Sarah Karnasiewicz


Hoping to single out a pan that best meets those criteria—and earns a place in every baker’s arsenal—I spent hours baking my way through a bevy of of bundts, comparing their design, functionality and ease of use. What did I learn? While the competition may be stiff, most classics become classics for a reason—and in the case of bundt pans, the original remains the gold standard.

The Tests

© Sarah Karnasiewicz


To hone in on the best bundt pan, I scoured the web, taking notes from culinary and consumer sites including King Arthur Flour, Food 52, Cooks Illustrated, Fine Cooking, The Sweethome, and the Kitchn, as well as user reviews on Amazon and conversations on forums like Real Baking with Rose Levy Berenbaum. I also went straight to the experts, interviewing Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the authors of Baked Explorations, Baked Occasions, and self described “bundt enthusiasts” who put dozens of bundt pans to the test day in and day out at their bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Using the recommendations gleaned from that research, I narrowed the field to five commonly available and classically shaped bundt pans with capacities ranging from 10-15 cups and a price of $12 to $31. To keep the variables the same, I baked the same recipe—this moist, orange-scented, olive oil bundt individually in each pan, in the same oven, for the exact same amount of time. Then I compared the results, checking to see how comfortable the pans were to handle, how evenly the cakes baked and browned, how well they kept their shape, how easily the cakes released from the pan, and how cumbersome the pans were to clean.

The Bundt Pans

© Sarah Karnasiewicz


While it’s possible to find bundt pans made of glass, stoneware and silicone, the overwhelming consensus among professional and amateur bakers is that metal—either aluminum or coated steel—is the best material in which to bake a bundt cake, thanks to both its sturdiness and its even and efficient heat conductivity. Silicone bundt pans, in particular, get routinely poor reviews—and just mentioning them can get professional bakers all worked up. “Never, ever, ever use a silicone bundt pan,” Lewis and Poliafito told me. The reason? Silicone is squishy and unstable—a bad match for hefty bundt batters, which may spill or sag when not properly contained. Also, due to the material’s poor conductivity, batters baked in silicone will never brown deeply—a must for a properly-baked bundt cake. Considering this, in the end I chose to test only metal pans.

I also found that most cooks agree that when it comes to bundts—with their elaborate whirls, curves, and crevices that seem tailor made for trapping cake—a nonstick surface is indispensable. Indeed, even when using a nonstick surface, most professional bakers and cookbook writers recommend buttering and flouring your pan, or coating it thoroughly with a nonstick cooking spray before filling.

The color of a bundt pan’s surface will also play a role in the texture and attractiveness of the final product: In general, light-colored surfaces perform better than darker ones, as the dark surfaces may produce a crust that is dry is overly browned before the cake’s interior has had enough time to bake properly.

The market is littered with mini bundt pans of assorted shapes and sizes, but because the most common size for bundt pans is between 10 and 12 cups, I confined my experiments to models that fell in or near that range. Generally speaking, if you want a larger pan, it’s smart to seek out one that looks taller, not wider—wider pans produce squatter, less dramatically architectural cakes.

© Sarah Karnasiewicz


Most recipe developers design recipes for 10-cup bundt pans, so home bakers will be best served by a pan that accommodates that amount at a minimum. If you want to adapt a non-bundt specific recipe, the form is fairly forgiving—in general, a cake recipe that yields enough batter for two 9″ rounds or one 9″ x 13″ pan will also fit a typical bundt pan. One rule of thumb that Lewis and Poliafito recommended: any sturdy cake batter or quick bread that is typically baked in a loaf pan will also do well in a bundt—but avoid delicate, airy cakes, which will just fall apart. When you are filling your bundt, ideally the batter should come ⅔ up the sides of the pan before baking. Overfill it and you’ll have a mess on your hands, underfill it and you’ll wind up with a thin, squat cake. If you are unsure of the capacity of your pan, you can measure it by filling it with water one cup at a time.

Finally, when ranking the pans I kept in mind the small design features—like easy-grip handles, a satisfying weight, and attractive proportions—that can add up to a big difference in the experience of baking and the aesthetics of the finished cake. And while today’s makers produce bundt pans in a dizzying array of creative designs, I limited my tests to the “classic” shape: a ring-shaped series of peaks and rounded curves that Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito call Bundt 101, and is beginner friendly, always beautiful, and easy to glaze. The more elaborate shapes, they warn, can be trickier to turn out of the pan and—while Instagram-friendly—don’t take as well to a variety of frostings or glazes.

Our Favorite Bundt Pans

The good news? It’s hard to go wrong with bundt pans—and no matter which one you buy, you’re likely to produce a cake that your friends and family will be thrilled to tear into. Every model I tested except one produced an evenly browned cake with a tender crumb, and released from the pan without incident. But when it came to ease of use, caliber of construction, and the aesthetics of the final product, one contender still stood out from the pack.

Courtesy of Amazon


The Best Bundt Pan: Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Bundt Pan, 10-15 cups ($22 on Amazon Amazon)

Nordic Ware is the company responsible for introducing the bundt pan to America and, more than half a century later, their products are still the baker’s gold standard. With a sturdy cast aluminum body that was taller and narrower than its competitors, and deeply defined curves and ridges, the Nordic Ware bundt pan I tested produced a cake that was elegant and shapely, with clean lines and eye-catching architectural edges. I loved how easy the generous handles made maneuvering the pan into and out of the oven, and was glad to have something to grip when it came time to turn the cake out onto a cooling rack. With a capacity of 10-15 cups—the largest of all the models I tested—it would be large and versatile enough to accommodate an array of recipes. And though, at $30, it is considerably pricier than the other models, it comes with a lifetime guarantee and, given its superior performance, feels worth every penny. What’s more, Nordic Ware is still a family owned company and produces all of its products in the USA. Ultimately I had to agree with Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, who put it this way: “Nordic Ware pans are just special. You can still feel the enthusiasm about the product from the company—it’s still got a mom and pop feeling, even though it has grown to a global scale.”

Courtesy of Amazon


Best-Value Bundt Pan: Wilton Recipe Right Fluted Tube Pan ($11 on Amazon)

I was impressed by the even golden color of the bake in this simple, inexpensive pan, and appreciated the durability and reliability of the nonstick surface. Also: aside from the Nordic Ware pan, this was the only other model to produced a cake with decent height and somewhat well-defined fluting. It also cleaned up easily.

Courtesy of Amazon


Runner-Up: Anolon Advanced Nonstick Bakeware 9.5″ Fluted Mold Pan ($17 on Amazon)

I enjoyed the feel of the soft, easy grip handles on this sturdy pan, and was pleased by the consistency and depth of color of the cake it produced. The nonstick surface also worked well, and the finished cake slid out readily after just a few minutes of cooling. My only qualms? The surface of the cake seemed a bit artificially shiny in comparison to the matte texture of the Nordic Ware cake, and the decorative ridges and curves were considerably less pronounced, resulting a less visually interesting cake.

Courtesy of Amazon


Runner-Up: Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 9 ½ inch Fluted Cake Pan ($14 on Amazon)

This basic pan was a serviceable contender, producing a uniformly browned cake that was well baked all the way through and slid neatly from the pan with cracking or crumbling. But I was unimpressed by the lackluster looks of the under-defined decorative curves and ridges, especially considering that such features are one of the defining hallmarks of the bundt cake form.

Also Tested

Bakers Secret Basics Nonstick Fluted Tube Pan ($12 on Amazon)

The only model I tested that did not produce an evenly browned cake, this inexpensive pan was the weakest performer of the lot and its decorative curves were too shallow to produce a dramatic silhouette. Still, to its credit, the nonstick surface worked well, and the cake was tasty if not as pretty as the others.

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Cardiff girl shows off culinary skills on MasterChef Junior

Grace Howard skips into her family’s Cardiff kitchen, smiling at her possessions: a knife set, ingredients for sophisticated dishes like sushi and pasta, a food processor, Vitamix Blender and KitchenAid Stand Mixer.

“This is a pairing knife,” she says on a recent Friday afternoon while sharpening the utensil. “It’s good for cutting fruits and vegetables. … This is my Vitamix. I use it to make smoothies and hot soups.”

The tools are all very real, and Grace knows how to work every one of them with ease.

That might not be surprising if she were an adult, but it wasn’t that long ago Grace was playing in a plastic toy kitchen.

She’s 9.

The fourth grader at The Rhoades School was selected last year into the top 40 of the reality TV show MasterChef Junior to show off her adult cooking skills to Gordon Ramsay.

The celebrity chef has become commonly known for his hot temper.

“If he was a stove, I would tell him to turn down the high heat just a little,” said Grace, giggling. “He’s not the sweetest muffin in the pack.”

Grace’s mother, Melissa Howard, contested her daughter is actually a big fan of Ramsay.

“He’s her cooking idol,” she said. “She literally ran down toward him, and I thought she was going to run up and hug him. Her thing was she was going to be best friends with Gordon Ramsay. She was ready to jump out of herself but she kept her cool.”

Grace was 8 and the youngest competitor on the show when her episode filmed last March.

In the episode, which aired Feb. 16, Grace and three other contestants were challenged with creating a chicken dish in under 40 minutes.

For Grace — who started cooking as a toddler — her idea came easily.

“I had to think about the four different parts of a chicken: breasts, legs, wings and thighs,” she said. “I wanted to go with something that would cook easily but I could get it done in time. So, definitely, I chose the breast. I wanted to show them my special adult skills.”

The girl made a stuffed chicken breast with ricotta cheese, lemon, mashed potatoes and spinach-garlic salad.

The dish was judged by Ramsay’s counterpart on the show, Christina Tosi.

“It was heart-racing when she was walking over,” Grace said. “I was definitely really scared.”

Tosi ended up eliminating Grace, saying her chicken was a bit undercooked, but praised the girl for her creamy mashed potatoes.

Grace said she was initially sad but not completely defeated.

“I’m a winner for just being selected to compete,” she said, adding she plans to audition for the show again.

She hopes to open her own bakery someday, with an emphasis toward donating to charity.

Melissa Howard said her daughter has a giving heart.

“She’s always wanted to make something for somebody,” she said. “She makes things for the neighbors. She made sushi and delivered it around the neighborhood. She’s got a really good heart and some really good ideas about her bakery to give back.”

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Novi restaurant closed, auction held after plea in fire death of immigrant workers



Kims Garden in Novi has closed its doors and held an auction after the establishments owners recently pleaded guilty in a fire that led to the deaths of five immigrants who worked at the Chinese restaurant.

The closing of the business comes just three weeks after Roger Tam and wife Ada Mei Lei admitted during a recent federal court hearing that they knew a teenager and four young men from Mexico were in the U.S. illegally.

The five worked at Kims Garden restaurant and lived in a home in Novi owned by the couple. The victims died a year ago in a fire that was likely caused by smoking.

Tam and Lei pleaded guilty Feb. 1 to charges of harboring and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens without making a deal with prosecutors. Defense lawyers say the government wanted Tam and Lei to acknowledge that theyre responsible for the deaths, but the couple declined.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 13 in U.S. District Judge Marianne Battanis courtroom. Conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens comes with a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of $250,000.

The auction of Kims Garden items, held Tuesday, Feb. 22, included refrigerators, unique drinking glasses; furniture; industrial heating and cooling machines; walk-in freezers and coolers; dinnerware; a fish tank; restaurant decor; memorabilia and much more, according to Kalamazoo-based auctioning site Biddergy.com.

Biddergy on Wednesday noted it was still completing the inventory process following the auction, but items were listed lower than retail value.

Background

Reports have shown that the blaze was likely started due to careless smoking after a mattress caught fire. Further investigations revealed that neighbors and Tams daughter saw the Mexican nationals at the home often, sometimes smoking in the garage. Five beds, a futon and personal items were found in the basement following the fire.

The five victims were:

Brayan Medina, 16

Leonel Rodriguez, 18

Pablo Alvaro Encino, 23

Miguel Diaz, 23

Simeon Nunez, 18

Throughout the duration of the federal case, defense attorney Ray Cassar said Tam and Lei were struggling with insurance claims, house repairs and the potential that their assets, such as their home, may be seized by the government.

Its just a tough case, a sad case. These are good people who have never been in trouble before, said Cassar in November.

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The Care & Keeping Of Your Cast Iron Cookware Shouldn’t Scare You

It’s a lot easier to be a home cook in 2017, and not just because of Trader Joe’s. I already knew how much we rely on dishwashers and pre-heating ovens, but it wasn’t until I tried whipping cream by hand that I realized just how much we owe to new innovations. There’s at least one piece of old-school technology, though, that has more than stood the test of time: cast iron cookware. It’s good at retaining heat, is crazy-durable, and naturally nonstick. So why aren’t we all cooking with it all the time?

Even the most seasoned cooks (cast-iron pun intended) can be intimidated to start cooking with a cast iron skillet. After all, it requires much different care from your normal pots and pans, and, if not properly cared for, can easy rust and become unusable. But it’s not as scary as it sounds. I talked with Mark Kelly, head of P.R. at Lodge Manufacturing, a company that has been making cast-iron cookware in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, for nearly 120 years. He allayed my fears with a few simple tips on the care and keeping of cast-iron cookware. If you follow them, you, too, can be a (cast) iron chef in no time.

What Is Cast Iron?

There’s a good chance that your great-great grandmother, wherever she was from, cooked with cast iron. Humans have been using it, in one form or another, for over 1,000 years. A fairly low-tech product to make (its a mix of iron and steel poured into a sand mold), it was originally used in China for military weapons. The reason we’re still cooking with it a millennium later? Cast-iron cookware heats evenly, retains heat well, and is naturally nonstick.

And, amazingly, for an ancient technology, it’s well-suited for modern cooking. Kelly explains, “You can use it on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, and on the campfire, and back home again.” In fact, it’s one of two types of cookware that can be used on an induction burner. It’s great for searing meats, sautéing, and even baking, since the pans create a dry heat. Perhaps most importantly, Kelly notes that it’s “awesome for grilled cheese sandwiches.”

And, best of all, it’s nonstick. Until recently, you’d have to make cast-iron nonstick on your own, through a process known as seasoning. Then, 15 years ago, Lodge figured out how to preseason cookware in the factories. Today, that process is industry standard and the vast majority of cast-iron cookware is ready to go as soon as you buy it.

Seasoned cast-iron means that it’s coated with fat that is heated till it becomes carbon particles, making the pans nonstick. The more you cook with cast-iron, the more heated fat become carbon particles, and the more nonstick it becomes. In fact, Kelly says that, if you take care of it, cast-iron cookware can last for a minimum of 100 years. The key is, of course, taking care of it the right way.

Cleaning Cast Iron

The things we normally rely on for dirty dishes (soap and water) are cast iron’s natural enemies. Exposure to both can break down the seasoning and cause the pans to rust. That alone can be enough to make people hesitant to start cooking with cast-iron themselves. But Kelly says it doesn’t have to be daunting: “Personally, I just use water and a scrubby, and if there’s anything stuck I use a paste of course salt and water and rub it on there.”

If it’s a newer pan, Kelly recommends coating it lightly with olive oil and letting it sit on the stove at medium heat for about 15 minutes. This maintenance step will help the pan get even more nonstick faster. Once you’ve had the pan awhile, just rubbing it in olive oil and storing it will suffice.

If food really, really won’t come off, you can boil water in the pan to get stuff off. The main thing is to never, ever let it soak overnight or put it in the dishwasher. Both will lead to rust, which means you’ll lose the nonstick properties of the pan and have to re-season it. Kelly also notes that, the longer you’ve had your pan (and the more nonstick it is), the less likely this will be to happen.

Soap, which can break down the natural non-stick created by fat, is completely unnecessary. “Anything you’re going to cook in cast iron is going to be a minimum of 300 degrees, so any bacteria that may be in there is gone. It’s GONE,” Kelly emphasizes. “People have been using cast iron cookware for a long time and nobody’s ever gotten sick from cooking with cast iron cookware.”

That said, he also acknowledges that “It’s your choice, it’s your pan.” Mild soap is fine, as long as you rinse and dry it thoroughly and coat with olive oil.

But What If I Need To Re-Season It?

If you care for your cast-iron pans well, you’ll never need to re-season it. Even a small patch of rust can be fixed with a scrubby brush and some oil. But, if you’ve been what Kelly refers to as a “bad parent,” you’ll have to re-season it completely. The good news is, he says, even the most beat-up skillets can be rescued. And before you get worried, Kelly also has this piece of advice:

“This is cookware, not a Stephen king novel. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Start by rubbing down the rusted pan with steel wool and rinsing it with water. Then coat it with a fat like vegetable shortening. Heat your oven to 350° and place aluminum foil on the bottom to collect dripping fat. Place the pan on a middle rack, upside down, and let it sit for an hour. After that, turn the oven off, and let it cool completely, and you’re back on your way.

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Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT) Files An 8-K Entry into a …

Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT) Files An 8-K Entry into a Material Definitive AgreementItem 1.01.

Entry into a Material Definitive Agreement

On February 14, 2017, Lifetime Brands, Inc. (the “Company”) entered into a triple net lease agreement (the “Lease”) with Baseline Opportunity, LLC (the “Landlord”) for 702,668 square feet of warehouse and distribution space in Rialto, California (the “Facility”). The term of the Lease is 128 months with three renewal options of five years each. Annual base rent will be approximately $3.5 million annually, at the commencement of the Lease, and will increase on an annual basis by 3%. The Company shall receive an abatement of eight months of base rent.

Landlord will construct the Facility to the Company’s specifications as set forth in the Lease, at Landlord’s sole cost and expense up to a maximum expense as set forth in the lease (“Tenant Improvement Allowance”). If due to changes in the specifications requested by the Company the cost for the design and construction of the Facility exceeds the Tenant Improvement Allowance, the Company has the option to either (i) pay for the increased cost, or (ii) finance the increased cost through a capitalized tenant improvement allowance and an amortized tenant improvement allowance, both of which shall be paid through an increase in the rent.

The Lease will commence the later of (i) the substantial completion of the Facility and other on site and off-site improvements to be undertaken by Landlord to the Lease, or (ii) November 1, 2017. If Landlord has not substantially completed the improvements by December 1, 2017, the Company shall receive additional rent abatements until substantial completion is achieved.

The Company expects to begin moving its operations into the Facility in November 2017. The Facility will serve as the Company’s West Coast distribution facility of its U.S. Wholesale Segment, which will replace the Company’s existing Fontana, California facility, the lease for which expires in March 2018.

 

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About Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT)
Lifetime Brands, Inc. designs, sources and sells branded kitchenware, tableware and other products used in the home. The Company has three business segments: U.S. Wholesale, which designs, markets and distributes its products to retailers and distributors; International, which operates certain business operations that are conducted outside the United States, and Retail Direct, which markets and sells a limited selection of its products through its Pfaltzgraff, Mikasa, Built NY, Fred Friends and Lifetime Sterling Internet Websites. Its product categories include over two categories of products that people use to prepare, serve and consume foods, including Kitchenware, which consists of kitchen tools and gadgets, cutlery and bakeware, and Tableware, which consists of dinnerware, stemware, flatware and giftware. Its Home Solutions consists of other products used in the home. It owns or licenses various brands, such as Farberware, Sabatier, masterclass, Kamenstein and Towle. Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT) Recent Trading Information
Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT) closed its last trading session up +0.10 at 14.80 with 22,535 shares trading hands.

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