From Season 3: Quick Breads
Update May 2011:
We recently learned that our favorite 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan has a new manufacturer, though its name remains the same. Curious as to whether this new pan could live up to the original, we made double batches of our Classic Pound Cake and American Sandwich Bread and divvied them up to bake in the new and old versions. Good news: The similarity wasn’t just a matter of looks (the pans were almost impossible to tell apart). The new pan produced even browning and effortless, perfect release for both bread and pound cake. With pound cakes, it performed every bit as well if not better than its predecessor: The old pan left slight traces of cake in its crevices; the new pan, none whatsoever. Loaves of bread rose and browned evenly in both pans, and left perfectly intact edges when released.
Seven years after our last testing, we wanted to see if anything new could best the bargain loaf pan we had previously chosen as a winner, (which is still available for $6 in supermarkets). Seven pound cakes, seven loaves of sandwich bread, and hours of baking later, we had a motley crew of baked goods and some new thoughts about loaf pans.
Size was one primary factor that made a difference. Bigger pans allowed the sandwich bread to bake up a bit fluffier than did smaller pans but yielded dense, square pound cakes. Narrower pans were the only correct choice for pound cake and fine for sandwich bread.
Our other primary concern was browning. Light-colored aluminum finishes yielded pale, anemic-looking baked goods. On the other hand, the dark nonstick surface on our previous winner actually browned the bread and pound cake a shade too much. Despite its wide availability and low price, it's no longer our top choice. Glass Pyrex browned nicely, but the real star of the show had a gold-colored nonstick surface that yielded baked goods with a perfectly even, honeyed-copper crust.
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.