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Recreated here, a first, mostly harmless mistake from the kitchen: Two very different cake pans to cook a single Banana Cake yield to illustrate what differences exist in baking tools. We’re taking a pretty good look at two readily available tools – cake pans by Pyrex and Smart Living. Both are about 9.5 inches and for cake bakers just starting out, why not trust one to the do the job any better than the other?
Worst Banana Cake failure was to add more banana than required by the ingredient list and put all the batter into just ONE pie pan. The disastrously sunken center, mushy like baby food, was dessert at a 2010 potluck Christmas Dinner. It quickly became Humble Pie.
The yield for the Joy of Cooking recipe posted at this link is enough batter to fill both pans on baking – before baking, however, the batter barely covers the bottom to reach the sides; so pour smartly.
What’s pictured below is about four minutes overdone due in part to a broken thermostat in the oven. That aside, we finally get to see the grand and pronounced differences between the Pyrex and Smart Living pans. Both produce the same flavor, but the Pyrex produces a taller edge with less burn or crust. The Smart Living does not hold heat well. So not only is it just “warm to the touch,” cooling off three minutes out of a 350-degree oven, it heats up very quickly too and that heats up the batter too quickly at the edges long before the center. The picture shows the grade from both cakes’ edges leading to the domes at the middles. A review of the Smart Living pie pan tells the sad story of a cake that baked so quickly at the edges that the batter had no time to rise before it was cooked in place while the middle had more time to rise – the difference in heights is so significant that the benefits of “non-stick” and fast-cooling are negated, OBE, overcome by events, useless.
The Pyrex pie pan kept the edges from receiving so much heat so quickly so the edges of the cake are higher; they had more time to rise. The crust on the Smart Living cake is far more 'crunchy' because after batter is done rising and cooking, all heat can do is dehydrate and burn it – the edges of the Pyrex cake are still crunchy since my oven is running hot.
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