From Season 13: Great American Classics
Update, October 2012
We recently learned that our winning springform pan by Frieling is being substantially redesigned and will be re-launched in the spring. We will test it at that time to see if it still meets our standards. In the meantime, we are promoting the former second-place pan to be our winner.
Our favorite springform pan from Frieling ($49.99) features handles that make it easy to remove from a water bath and a tempered glass bottom that lets us track browning. But like every other model we’ve ever tested, it lacks one essential feature: a leakproof seal to prevent batter from trickling out and (when baking in a water bath) moisture from seeping in. That drawback has kept us on the lookout for the perfect pan, and this time we returned from our shopping trip with four competitor models ($13.95 to $48), baking cheesecake and Summer Peach Cake in each to see if anything could outclass our old standby.
Unfortunately, not one model we tested avoided this flaw. We always bake cheesecake in a water bath, and even after taking our usual precaution of wrapping the pans with aluminum foil before baking, we found dark, damp patches on each cheesecake’s graham cracker crust where moisture had snuck in. Moisture leaking out was also a problem. When we filled each pan with water, they all dripped.
Our evaluations came down to cake release, evenness of browning, and design. Nonstick coatings were a universal feature that helped the sides of the pans to pull away with minimal scraping. But the pans with the lightest and darkest finishes produced under and overbrowned cakes, respectively. We also preferred models that didn’t leave an unsightly seam in the cheesecake where the buckle fastened (as the Kaiser did); sported flat (not rimmed) base surfaces, which allows the bottom to double as a serving plate if the cake is too fragile to transfer to another platter; and cleaned up in the dishwasher. When we still had to chisel peach cake crumbs from the tight seams in two of the models we tested after five dishwasher rounds, we knew that those pans were better left on the shelf.
Until manufacturers come out with a truly leakproof model, we’ll stick with our old favorite and continue to wrap it in aluminum foil when baking cheesecake in a water bath.
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.