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~ Bakeware Essentials: A Bundt Pan & A Tube Pan ~

IMG_9649Before I post my next recipe, which is going to be a sour-cherry sour-cream pound-cake baked in a tube pan, I decided to answer two frequently asked questions in my cooking classes:

#1:  "What is the difference between a bundt pan & a tube pan?"

Let me start by saying:  be sensible.  If you wouldn't change the recommended time and temperature guidelines for a recipe, why change the recommended pan.  If a recipe specifically says to use a bundt pan, use it, and, if a recipe specifically says to use a tube pan, use it (especially if the author or source of the recipe, like me, has taken the time to provide a photo to illustrate its success).  Although these two pans may appear similar (because they both have a hollow tube in the center), using them interchangeably requires consideration because:  the success or failure of the recipe just might (not always but many times) depend on the pan!  

Here's what you need to know before making the decision:

IMG_9658A bundt pan is a round-bottomed, heavily-constructed, tube pan with decorative, fluted sides and bottom.

IMG_9662The design makes it ideal for dense cakes, like pound cakes and coffeecakes, that upon baking take on the attractive design of the pan without sticking when the cake is removed from the pan.

IMG_9650A typical tube pan, also known as an angel food cake pan, is a deep, smooth-sided, slightly-angled, flat-bottomed baking pan with a tube in the center that facilitates the baking of angel food and sponge cakes, which contain a lot of whipped egg whites, at a low temperature.  

IMG_9653The pan was designed with a removable bottom, to make it easy to remove these delicate cakes from the pan.

#2:  "Can a bundt pan and a tube pan be used interchangeably?

IMG_9649Although both pans have a tube in the center which promotes, rising, even baking and easy slicing, you can't bake light, delicate cakes (like angel food and sponge) in a bundt pan (their batter will stick to the designs), but you can bake heavy, dense cakes (like pound cake and coffeecake) in a tube pan

IMG_9667In the case of both bundt pans and tube pans it is worth noting:  they both come in a range of size (9", 10, etc.) and depth (3"-4", etc.), as well as volume (10-cup, 12-cup, etc.). Never assume the pan is correct without checking either or both the size and/or volume!  

Whether or not you are substituting one pan for the other, always be sure you are using the right size pan!

IMG_9675When it comes to size, baking pans are always measured across the top, not the bottom.  Just place a ruler across the center of the top of the pan.  This is a 10 1/2" pan. When it comes to volume,  use a 1 cup measure and fill the pan to the top.  This is a 14-cup pan.  When adding batter to the pan, never add batter any farther up the sides of the pan to within 1"-1 1/2" of the top. This is a 14-cup bundt pan with a maximum capacity of 12 cups...

PICT0667... and how far the pan gets filled varies depending upon the type of cake being baked, how much it is going to rise (which depends on the type of leavening agents), and, how much of a dome is desired.  Most recipes are specific about this point, so always follow the directions, but in the event they do not:

If in doubt, don't fill the pan more than 1 1/2" from the top!

Because "tube pans" (generic for "any pan with a center tube" vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, many imported from different countries, and many more passed down from generation to generation, the pans are not always uniform.  A quick internet search for "tube pan" will reveal 100's of choices of varying shapes (some are square), some with removable bottoms (some without), some straight-sided (some fluted), and, a variety of sizes too.  A small difference in size (1/2") shouldn't affect results.  Here is a helpful chart to use as a guideline:

Most Common Bundt Pan Sizes & Volume:

6 1/2" x 3 1/2" = 5 1/2 cups 

7 1/2" x 3" = 6 cups

8 1/2" x 3 1/2" = 7 cups

9" x 3" = 9 cups

10" x 3 1/2" = 12 cups

9" x 4 1/2" (classic Nordic Ware shape) = 15 cups

Most Common Tube Pan Sizes and Volume:

6" x 3" = 4 cups

9" x 3" = 10 cups

10" x 4" = 16 cups 

PICT0689Words of wisdom:  Never exchange a different size or volume tube-type pan (or any type of cake pan) for the size specified in the recipe. Why? You stand a chance of creating a big problem rather than than a great cake.  If the pan is wider, the depth of the batter will decrease and cake will bake more quickly.  If the pan is narrower, the depth of the batter will increase and the cake will take longer to bake.  In both cases, the texture of the cake being baked will likely be affected.

PICT0731~ My NY Deli-Style Jewish Apple 'n Almond Cake ~ is an example of a dense cake which I also bake in a 10" tube pan, and, as it should, my recipe specifies that for you.  Why? Because I've made it in a bundt pan and it creates too heavy of a crust for this yummy, moist cake (just look at it).  You can find my recipe in Categories 6 or 9!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


Arlene -- Just click on the blue title in the post (I reactivated the link) -- it will take you straight to the recipe. A while back TypePad went through some changes and some links on my older posts got deactivated. I reactivate them every time I come across another one. Thank-you for bringing it to my attention. ~ Melanie

How do I get the deli style apple cake recipe? It looks so good!

Jasmine -- Glad I could be of help! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy your strawberry pound cake -- sounds wonderful! Gobble, gobble! ~ Melanie

Thanks for the information. I am trying to make a strawberry pound cake and I went to Wal-mart to buy the bunt pan not noticing I brought a tube pan instead and I lived about 45 minutes from the closes Wal-mart/store. The size of the bunt and the tube is the same for the recipe. The info you gave Sandra about taking the pound cake out of the tube pan helped too. I’m looking forward to making this pound cake for Thanksgiving.

Keirh -- Because angel food cakes are typically cooled, inverted, in the pan, the "three tabs" serve as legs to allow for air flow.

What are the 3 tabs on tube pan used for?

B Bax. You are correct -- the toppings will end up on the bottom. Buy a tube pan if that is what the recipe calls for, or, live with the consequences. Good luck!

Unfortunately I don't have a tube pan. The recipe calls to sprinkle some sugar and pecans on top of the batter. If I do that in the bundt pan, the "topping" will end up being on the bottom of the cake. Do you think it would be OK to put the sugar and pecans into the bundt pan before adding the batter?

You are quite welcome Cheryl. Happy Baking!!!

Thanks for the detailed summary and explanation, not come across as well explained online.

Jo Ann -- I couldn't have said this better myself -- happy baking!!! ~ Melanie

I want to thank you so much for this info. I am a home baker but I feel I am always learning and as much as I love to be creative and have fun when I bake I almost always follow the recipe including what pan they recommend at least the first time. Donna, I have to disagree with you because baking...unlike a science and so many factors play into the final product. For example, today I am trying out a new recipe - - - a choc chip crumb pound cake - - - and while I was tempted to use my beautiful bundt pan I thought I should do a little research first as the recipe calls for a tube pan. I will also add a tube pan is typically used for angel cake and we know a pound cake and angel food cake are quite different. So when I found this blog it told me everything I needed. Thank you again for this informative piece!

Donna -- Thank-you for your comment. While I truly understand your mindset, because you are obviously a savvy baker, I have experienced, after having provided a specific size pan (for my cherry pound cake), a woman who complained to me that her cake rose up and over the sides and onto the floor of her oven. She had used not only a smaller pan, but a different pan. No one is obligated to use a specific "anything", and, I am all for, and encourage creativity, but, I can tell you this with certainty: There is a large percentage of folks who need (require) every possible detail provided for them. Specifics are provided to be helpful to those that need them. Those that don't, don't. In today's food world: it is as simple as that.

I change cake pans ALL THE TIME! Yeah, times might vary but I always end up with, the cake is done ... when it's done. I can't think of one instance changing pans for a desired effect has hurt anything ... even though an author has put a photo on the recipe or not! I'm not obligated to use a certain pan because the author put a photo in there. This is about creativity, not obligation and obedience! Instead of "be sensible", how about "have fun"!

Thanks Trish -- Happy pound cake baking!

Very helpful, will try regular bundt for my 1st pound cake.

Adriana -- I am glad my post helped you, and, thank-you for telling me so!

Thanks for the explanation. I googled the difference between the two and there was your useful post. Now I know that I actually own a bundt pan and not a tube pan.

Sandra! Since dense cakes like coffecakes and pound cakes do not require inverting to remove them from a tube pan, the process is quite easy. When the cake comes out of the oven, place the entire pan on a cooling rack for 4-5 minutes. Next, run a sharp paring knife down the exterior walls of the tube pan, to insure the cake is loose from the pan. Then, using the tube portion of the pan as a handle, lift and remove the entire cake from the pan. Place it, as is, on the cooling rack to cool completely -- 2-3 hours. This is important because a warm cake will fall apart. Last, run the paring knife between the bottom of the tube pan and the bottom of the cake, then, run the knife down and around the center tube too (making sure the cake is free from the bottom of the pan and the center of the pan. Using two flat spatulas (I often times just use my hands) lift and transfer the cake from the pan to a plate! PS: It sounds like this cake would best be baked in a springform pan to begin with!

How do you get a coffee cake out of a 10 in. tube pan where the cake is only half way up the tube. How do you invert it to get it out of the pan without the cake breaking up.

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