The pans are only $13 each, so you may not want to run out and replace some of your more expensive cookware, but they're certainly appealing to the eye and I can see them working well as a much-used piece of equipment in a college apartment.
"pan" news and stories
Filed under: Food Gadgets
The traditional cakes of Christmas are yule logs and fruitcakes, but that doesn't mean that holiday options have to be limited to those traditionally festive few cakes. Nordicware has a new Christmas Tree pan that bakes up into a three-dimensional tree that is cute enough to rival any holiday display and is likely to elicit some "oohs" and "aahs" when you bring it out to the table. While it's true that all cakes are really three-dimensional, this one is unique in that it actually stands up, rather than lying flat on the table. The cake is baked in two halves, which are cemented together with a layer of frosting before being set up on a cake plate, where it will reach a final height of about 10 inches. The cake pan holds 9 cups of batter, which is about the size of a traditional bundt cake recipe. Once the tree is up, it can be decorated with frosting, candy ornaments or just a light dusting of powdered sugar to simulate snow. If you're feeling brave, you could spike the batter with green food coloring for a really tree-like cake, although it might take some convincing to get people to eat it.
Gingerbread men are a bit of a hassle to bake. Mixing up the dough is not the problem and neither is decorating the cooled cookies or eating them. They annoying thing about the cookies is that the dough has to be chilled, rolled out, cut and rerolled before the cookies can even be baked. It is time consuming and, when you consider that you could have made at least a batch or two of chocolate chip cookies in the mean time, it doesn't always seem worth the effort. But there is no denying that the cookies are cute. Fortunately, Wilton makes a gingerbread man pan that can be used to bake little cakes, muffins, brownies and even mold rice crispy treats into gingerbread men. It is much faster than working with the cut-out cookies and you can still have fun decorating them. One additional bonus is that the cake pan gives you an easy alternative to cookies when the holidays tend to be cookie-heavy as far as desserts go.
Many of us only use a large roasting pan a few times a year and even though the meals we are using it for are holiday dinners, where to is important to try to get the food as perfectly cooked as possible, it is hard to justify spending $200+ dollars on a pan that gets so little use. Cook's Country tested some inexpensive roasting pans, all under $100, to see if they would do just as good a job as the more expensive pans while staying in our budgets.
Each of the pans they tested was designed to work both on the stove-top, so they could be used to brown meats, and in the oven or under the broiler. They chose pans with a minimum size of 15" x 11" inches, to accommodate largest turkeys. Overall, they strongly preferred pans that had sturdy, upright handles, which were easy to grip and did not interfere with the way the pan fit into the oven by adding an extra 2-3 inches to the length. They also found that stainless steel pans with aluminum cores offered the best heat distribution, while plain stainless steel could be a bit spotty when it came to browning. Their top picks were:
- CALPHALON Contemporary Stainless Steel Roasting Pan ($100)
- CUISINART Chef's Classic Roasting Pan ($80)
- KITCHENAID Gourmet Distinctions Roasting Pan ($50) - Best Buy
- GRANITE WARE Oval Roasting Pan ($22) - Best Buy for very infrequent roasters
Do you have a specialty pan at home? It could be something as simple as a specialized bundt cake mold or a bit more unusual, such as an aebleskiver pan. These pans all have fairly limited uses, but if you use them often enough, it's worth the extra cabinet space to save time in the long run.
Some pans, however, might take the specialty concept a bit too far. The Jesus pan might be a good example, except you can still use it for many different kinds of food. This pepper griddle, on the other hand, is made from cast-iron and has eight pepper-shaped indentations that are "recessed to evenly blister the Jalapeno pepper halves." It can be used to make stuffed peppers, and little else.
Stuffed peppers are good, but do you really need a pan dedicated to making them? If so, they're only $15.95 each.