Cake Pan Bonanza

André Baranowski

While testing James Villas's incredible pound cake recipe (which really is the best we've tasted) for this month's Classic column, an age-old question reared its head once again. Should a pound cake be baked in a tube pan or bundt pan? Is there even a difference between the two of them?

The answer is yes…and no. Dense cake batters, like the one in this recipe, are traditionally baked in pans that have a hole in their centers in order to promote even baking at lower temperatures. The tube pan's larger surface area also creates more of the golden brown crust that most pound cake aficionados consider a delicacy. But just what separates a tube from a bundt? Put in the language of biology: the tube pan is in its own genus; bundt pans (a trademarked, fluted tube pan designed by the Nordicware company) and angel food pans (tube pans with removable bottoms) are species within that genus.

So, when it comes to baking pound cake, what's the best option? It isn't the angel food pan, which may allow batter to dribble into the seams and result in a less-than-perfect crust. Instead, if a regal, non-dimpled pound cake is what you desire, find a straight-sided tube pan that does not have a removable bottom. Baking pound cake in a bundt pan will also work just as well—but the queen of cakes may not fancy being referred to by any other name.