For simple single-layer cakes like a pineapple upside-down, or a beautiful, towering classic layer cake, we think the USA Pan Aluminized Steel 9×2 Inch Round Layer Cake Pan is the best choice for any baker. After working through two rounds of baking using eight different pans, we are giving the highest praise to the USA Pan for its truly nonstick corrugated bottom, even heat distribution, and durability. In our tests, even sticky sugar from cinnamon buns didn’t stick to the pan. And at a little under $13, it won’t break the bank, even if you buy two or three.
A square or rectangular pan is one of the most basic essentials for a home baker. It’s indispensable for the simplest brownies, bar cookies, and single-layer sheet cakes. We tested three different square pans (after eliminating many others), and again, USA Pan offered up the best: the Aluminized Steel 13 x 9 x 2.25 Inch Rectangular Cake Pan and the Aluminized Steel 8 x 2.25 Inch Square Cake Pan. Unlike darker pans we tested, these heavy-duty quality pans gave cake an even, golden color. Though the corrugated sides help release the cake easily, they don’t mar the edges of the cake too much.
Loaf pans are great for easy, quick bread recipes (like banana bread), pound cakes, and yeasted sandwich bread. After testing five different loaf pans, the USA Pan once again produced the winner: the Aluminized Steel 9 x 5-Inch Loaf Pan. Breads baked taller in this pan than others we tested, and the pan was recommended by two of our expert resources, Rose Levy Beranbaum and Tish Boyle.