Think that a cake pan is a cake pan? Think again!
Like most people, when I started baking, I just went out to a big box store and bought some cake pans, and didn’t give it much thought. Then when I started baking more cakes and decorating them, I realized that the pan can make a huge difference in the finished product.
Over time, I am “upgrading” my cake pans. I want professional style cake pans with nice straight, high sides.
See the difference between cheap discount pans and a professional style straight sided pan. You’ll notice that the cheap pans nest together neatly, this is a telltale sign of tapered sides, a straight sided pan will only stack on top of another its size.
I have found three brands that fit the bill.
The easiest ones to find are made by Wilton. Now Wilton makes many lines of pans, and they are not all geared to the serious cake baker, many are just run of the mill non-stick pans, those aren’t what I was looking for. I go for the Wilton Performance and Wilton Decorator Preferred. The Performance round pans all have nice straight sides and come in 2″ and 3″ depths. If you want straight sided square or rectangular pans you have to move up to the Decorator Preferred pans. These are uncoated anodized aluminum, and will feel very light weight, but aluminum is a great material for baking pans. By using coupons for craft stores, you can score a good deal on these pans!
The next brand is Fat Daddio’s Fatdaddios.com( funny name huh?) These are definitely a step up from the Wilton pans, they are still made of lightweight aluminum, but a thicker gauge, making for a sturdy pan. These are real professional pans used by professional bakers. They make just about every pan size that you would ever need. These are easiest to get online.
The third brand is Parrish Magic Line pans. These are also top quality aluminum pans similar to the Fat Daddio’s. I don’t own any of this brand currently so I can’t give an opinion on them, but they are rated very high on websites like Amazon. These pans have been around for a long time and are a favorite among cake decorators.
As you can see my preference is for uncoated (not non-stick) pans. To me non-stick pans are disposable, no matter how much money you spend, they will eventually get scraped up and the coating will peel, non-stick coating isn’t really something that you want baked into your cake! Uncoated pans will last a lifetime if you take care of them. Aluminum pans will not rust, it doesn’t affect their performance if they get scratched.
If you really want a coated pan, then I would recommend USA Pans usapans.com These are nice heavy weight professional pans, if there is a coating that is going to hold up, then it’s this one, they are very well reviewed. Their pans also have nice straight sides.
What size pans do I need? Here is a list for the beginner baker.
- 2- 8″ round cake pans (preferably at least 2″ deep)
- 2- 9″ round cake pans (preferably at least 2″ deep)
- 1- 8×12 (best size, but usually needs to be ordered online) or a 9×13″
Why do I recommend an 8×12″ pan instead of a 9×13″ that is so easy to get? That’s easy, a cake mix or a standard recipe usually calls for a 9×13, but an 8×12 will give you a taller cake, and look more professional. Buying a pans that are at least 2″ deep insures that just about any recipe that calls for 2 8-9″ round pan will bake nice and high without the potential of overflowing the pan.
If you ever plan to do decorated cakes, either for profit, or just for friends and family, then you’ll never regret buying professional grade pans!