I have overcome a terrible addiction. No, it wasn't heroin, cocaine, or alcohol - it was the addiction to collecting Nordicware(R) BundtTM pans. It began innocently enough, as most addictions do. In 2000, for the 50th anniversary of their now-famous traditional Bundt pan, Nordicware issued the Star bundt pan. I saw it in a store and thought it looked cool, so I got it. A few years later, Nordicware introduced a couple of floral designs. It was then that I became hooked. Each time a new shape appeared I just HAD to have it. When they only had a half dozen shapes this was a reasonable collection. However, there are currently 38 different shapes plus special holiday designs. Additionally, they have a bunch of mini and even micro bundt pans, and they are making exclusive pans for such retailers as Williams-Sonoma.
I finally broke the addiction after a few mishaps with some of the more intricate pans. I'll give you a rundown of the shapes that I have used.
First, the Good:
It's not too intricate, usually releases easily, but it's a tad boring. The smaller, 6-cup size, when used one on top of another, makes a pretty good pumpkin cake for Halloween.
My favorite: The Bavaria
The Bavaria didn't appeal to me at first, with all of the really fancy shapes coming out at the time. To me the geometric shape was only 'meh'. But as I baked more and more cakes in this pan, which usually released perfectly, and had trouble with some of the more intricate designs (more on that later), I grew to like and then to lurve this pan.
In fact, I took a chocolate sour cream bundt cake to a get together this fall, and this is how it turned out:
Now the plastic serving platter isn't so great, but the cake itself was yummy and pretty. Sometimes simple is good.
Another pan I've had great success with is the Violet pan, which seems to be discontinued:
OK, maybe it's a bit cartoonish, but I like it
The Chrysanthemum pan is another one that turns out well. I don't have any photos of finished cakes it that design, however:
So far, so good with the florals. However, as you will see in a later post, not all floral designs were created equal. And, of course, I haven't tried ALL of the bundt designs. I finally kicked the habit (although you may recall I did buy a new one a month or so ago - it's coming up soon.)
Now to what I call the Architectural Series: first, another all-time favorite, the cathedral pan:
No, that isn't one of my cakes. I usually don't stick inedible greenery underneath cakes, although this doesn't look bad. Once I got a little crazy and used gel colors to create stained glass effects on the "windows" - it was only okay, but I did get some nice comments on it. I made that cake for a bridal shower and it went over quite well.
Another perennial favorite, the Fleur-de-Lis:
One of the first bundt pans I ever purchased, this one does pretty well with one notable exception: the tiny "beads" at the bottom. You have to overfill the pan to get the cake to fill that far, and then you run the obvious risk of overflowing onto the oven floor. I've successfully achieved a full border one two occasions, but it is still attractive even if that detail is lost.
And who can forget the Christmas classic Tree pan: Note the photo taken with great care to include the jar of beans in the background (hey, I was in a hurry!)
It looks to me like that would be a beeyotch to get to come out right. I see a lot of decapitated trees happening there. I'll stick to the traditional one, thanks.
Hmmm, I wonder if my discontinued pans will become collectible? Maybe I shouldn't have given away those other shapes - I could have begun funding my retirement with those puppies! Or not.
Let's see, what other shapes do I fancy? My newest one is shaping up to be another favorite - the Heritage pan. In addition to the dizzying swirled shape, which I adore, it is cast with a gorgeous gold sheen:
In addition to the shapes, what you use to grease the pan and the recipe itself are both crucial for a clean release with an even crust. The Lavender Lemon Cake from Martha Stewart is a good one (see my Aug. 21 post), Cook's Illustrated's Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt cake is another winner, and I've had decent luck with the recipes that are printed on the packaging, although some of them have been a tad dense. Not all of the pans are the same size, so the amount of batter from one recipe may be too much or too little for another. If I weren't so lazy, I would measure how much liquid each pan holds and make a note of it, but I never seem to have the time. If there is extra batter, I make cute little loaves to give to the neighbors. That's much nicer, anyway.
OK, I think that is all for this evening. Next time, we'll get to see some of the bad, the ugly, and the frustrating.