From Season 4: Lemon Cheesecake
A springform pan is a desirable—no, make that essential—piece of kitchen equipment. Without the removable sides that define a springform pan, cheesecakes and mousse cakes would have to be served straight from the confines of their cake pan prisons or, worse, messily dislodged so that their formerly clean lines and crisp corners resembled more of a pile than a cake. But are all springform pans created equal? To find out, we baked chocolate mousse cakes and cheesecakes in six pans, ranging in price from $9 to $32.
An ideal springform pan should release a cake from the sides and bottom effortlessly. All six pans tested had acceptable side release, but dislodging a cake from the bottom proved to be trickier. Here the top pans have a rimless bottom that makes it especially easy to slide a spatula underneath the cake to remove it. The other pans tested have rimmed bottoms that can get in the way of cake removal.
Because cheesecakes are often baked in a water bath, a tight seal between the band and the bottom of the springform pan is key, so we baked cheesecakes in a water bath tinted with green food coloring. The less secure the seal of the pan, the more water would seep through, and the greener the cheesecake would be. This test wasn't as clear-cut (or green-cut) as we had hoped. Even the best-performing pan showed an edge of green around one-third of the cake. The worst performers had a complete circle of green around the cake. We recommend wrapping the bottom of any springform pan with foil when baking in a water bath.
Our two favorite pans were the priciest of the lot—and we had trouble choosing a winner. But three years of intensive use in the test kitchen have taken their toll on several pans from one of our favorite models. They’ve suffered extensive peeling of their nonstick coating, especially on the pan bottom. And we’ve slowly developed a preference for the second model. With its glass bottom, we could monitor the browning of the crust on our tortas. And it turns out the tempered-glass bottom is anything but fragile—a conclusion we came to after it survived several falls onto the test kitchen floor. We also like the fact that this model has handles, which are helpful when removing the pan from a water bath or oven.
So we’ve revised our original recommendation and this time crowned only one pan the winner.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.