Cake Pans

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

By affecting the rate and distribution of heating, cake pans can have an important influence on their contents. The ideal pan size is that which matches the final volume of the cake, which is usually 50–100% greater than the initial batter volume. Doughnut-shaped tube pans, with the hole at their center, provide a greater surface area and speed the penetration of heat into the batter. Bright surfaces reflect radiant heat, transmit heat poorly to the food they contain, and slow the baking process. A dull metal pan or a glass one (which also transmits radiant heat well) will cook a cake as much as 20% faster than a shiny pan, while a black surface tends to absorb heat quickly and cause rapid surface browning. Recent innovations in nonmetal baking containers include flexible silicone molds and paper molds, larger and stiffer and more elegant versions of muffin and cupcake papers.