Tube Pan vs Bundt Pan: What’s The Difference?

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Your cake batter recipe may call for a Bundt pan or a tube pan. Both pans provide another way for heat to get at the batter, but one is designed to hold a heavy, high fat batter while the other will allow the batter to expand and puff up in the baking process.

Why Do Some Cake Pans Have A Hole In The Middle?

bundt pan hole

Cake pans are built to bake a cake in the traditional manner, or by applying heat from the bottom and from the edges in.

Tube and bundt pans also cook from the center out, so larger batches of batter can be cooked fully no matter the size or density of the recipe.

Tube Pans Vs. Bundt Pans

Thanks to the hole and the increased options for heat transfer, both tube pans and Bundt pans can handle more dough.

This dough can be light and fluffy, as in the case of angel food cakes, or dense and moist, such as a pound cake.

What Is A Tube Pan?

Tube pans have smooth sides and a squared off bottom and (often) a removable base plate to make it easier to get the cake separated from the metal pan.

what is a tube pan

These pans generally offer more volume or batter space than bundt pans and create a cake that’s a bit more bland to look at. Traditionally, tube pans are used to make angel food cake.

Angel food cake pans are designed to allow the batter to expand. This batter is loaded with egg whites and holds a lot of air.

Chicago Metallic Professional 2-Piece 9.5-Inch Angel Food Cake Pan with Feet, 9.5' x 4', Black

When purchasing a tube pan, make sure that the center pillar is as tall as the sides, or your expanding batter may wind up dripping through the center and making a mess in your oven.

SEE ALSO: How To Preheat An Oven

Fluted Vs. Flat

Angel food cake pans have flat tops and smooth edges.

angel food cake pan

Because this recipe is quite low fat, you don’t want a lot of fiddly shapes or grooves for your angel food cake recipe. You’ll never get it out of the pan.

In a standard Bundt pan pattern, the flutes or ridges allow for more surface area for the cake. The traditional pan features troughs or ridges, either rounded or angular.

As the cake bakes, the batter concentrates and caramelizes in these ridges.

Low fat cake recipes don’t work well in Bundt pans, partially because they’re hard to remove, but mostly because there’s no great flavor change in the ridges.

Bundt cakes are pretty and quite simple to decorate, but a good Bundt cake recipe tastes different at the edges than it does in the moist center.

Pros and Cons of Using an Angel Food Cake Pan

While you can bake a pound cake in an angel food cake pan, be aware that

  1. The shape of the cake created in an angel food cake pan is pretty utilitarian; there aren’t any flutes, patterns or swirls. You’ll just have a dense block of cake with a rather greasy film on it.
  2. Bundt pans can be fluted or have patterns imprinted in them. Because pound cakes recipes are high in butterfat and egg yolks, these patterns give the cake batter space to spread out and caramelize. Your Bundt cake may actually look greasy if you bake it in a flat pan or angel food cake pan.
  3. This doesn’t work well in reverse. Don’t try to bake an angel food cake recipe in a Bundt pan. You’ll destroy the cake getting before you can get it out of the pan.

What Is A Bundt Pan?

Per experts with Food & Wine, the first Bundt pan pattern was created for the Hadassah Society of Minneapolis. The word Bund (the original name) is German for bond or alliance. The creator, H. David Dahlquist, added the “t” before it was trademarked.

fluted tube pan

The cast shape of the Bundt pan is all about surface area. While the original pattern contained only flared ridges separated by half-moon curves.

Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Anniversary Bundt Pan

Custom Bundt pans feature deco patterns, clusters of grapes or even letters.

Pros and Cons of Using a Bundt Pan

Bundt pans make beautiful cakes, but don’t skimp on the fat in these recipes.

There needs to be enough fat in the recipe to let the cake release from the pan, and enough sugar to caramelize along the ridges.

If you just put plain cake batter in the pan and use a release agent before baking, you may have a pretty cake, but you’ll miss a lot of the flavor treat of a real Bundt cake.

Cooling Your Angel Food Or Bundt Cake

Bundt and angel food cakes may bake in a similar pattern, but the cooling process is very different.

Cooling And Plating A Bundt Cake

You’ll need to cool your Bundt cake right-side up on a surface that allows airflow. When possible, cool it away from your gas range or oven. Setting the pan on a cookie cooling rack is a simple way to let the metal pan cool evenly.

After about ten minutes, simply invert a cake plate over the pan, then carefully and quickly flip the plate and pan combination.

Timing and temperature are critical in this situation. If the cake gets too cool, moisture can build up between cake and pan, making a soggy finish.

If the pan stays too warm, the caramelized sugar will stick and functionally weld the cake in place.

Cooling And Plating An Angel Food Cake

A traditional feature of angel food cake pans is a set of risers or “feet” on the outer edge of the pan. These are not handles but spacers to allow for air to move while your cake cools upside down for at least an hour.

Angel food cakes are loaded with beaten egg whites, and thus, air. If left right side up to cool, they’ll flatten.

You can invert your angel food cake via the feet on the pan, or, if your pan has no feet, balance the tube on a glass bottle.

This is a fiddly business, made all the more hazardous by the possibility that the cake will fall out of the pan before it cools. When shopping, never buy a non-stick angel food cake pan.

Old-Fashioned Skills

Both Bundt cakes and angel food cakes have their place and make a great dessert. Consider experimenting a bit with scratch recipes to come up with your personal favorite.

Be aware that old school techniques such as separating eggs aren’t terribly difficult; they just take a bit of practice.

If you can find any, consider investing in some old community cookbooks. They often offer great but simple recipes with easy to follow instructions.

Final Thoughts

When making a pound cake, avoid worries about calories and fat. When making an angel food cake, be ready to break several eggs until you get the hang of it.

Baking is a joyful activity and a great way to treat your loved ones. Buy simple tools, be ready to practice, and have fun!

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