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Holiday Baking Part 1: All Loaf Pans Are Not Created Equal

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I’m not sure how you approach your kitchen gear acquisitions, but in my house, baking pans hold a pitiful position on the hierarchy of wares. After all, aren’t all loaf pans and cookie sheets pretty much the same? I’ve come to realize this is incorrect, especially when considering giving away baked goods as gifts. I don’t mind eating my own misshapen, partially burnt fruit loaf or pound cake, but giving one away or serving it to a guest can be a tad embarrassing. 

I recently brought home a 1-lb USA loaf pan (just one product in their extensive line of sturdy bakeware) and decided to conduct an experiment. Before forking over the cash, I wanted to see how it stood up to my no-name pan I have been using for the past decade to mixed results. 

The biggest initial difference between the USA pans and my pan - or similarly inexpensive pans - is the aluminized steel structure and something called Americoat, which is a proprietary silicone coating product. The metal provides even heating while the silicone is meant to create a naturally non-stick effect without requiring greasing.  

I made a double batch of my mother-in-law’s Orange Brandy Loaf recipe (included below), dividing the batter evenly by weight between the two pans. I baked them side by side in the oven and was astonished at the results. Where my admittedly terrible pan overcooked the bottom and sides - resulting in a visible dip & dome effect (making me look like a baking amateur, which I’m not) - the USA pan yielded a loaf so beautiful it looked like it could have been on the front of a cake mix box. 

But now for the true test: ejection. I had liberally greased the bottom and sides of my crappy pan, but decided not to grease the silicone coated pan at all. I had to wrestle and twist my crappy pan to coax my first loaf onto the rack; though it emerged intact, the bottom was much darker and tougher in consistency. And as for Mr. Fancy $24 USA Pan? Well what do you know, the loaf slipped out without so much as a gentle nudge, baked to absolute perfection. 

View the USA loaf pan here 

Orange Brandy Loaf (makes 1 9x5" loaf)

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • grated rind of one large orange
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup milk

Glaze:

  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 oz brandy

Method:

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter; beat in sugar gradually. Add eggs, beating well. Stir in orange rind. Mix flour, salt and baking powder together. Blend in dry ingredients alternatively with milk. Bake 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and spread glaze mix on top of loaf with a brush. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing. - Dee


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