Lifetimes: Hot Stuff
Cinnamon and butter, sugar and vanilla—nothing establishes the warmth of a kitchen like fresh baked goods. But even if the joys are age-old, today’s brides don’t have to settle for their grandmothers’ Bundt pans.
Revolutions in style, function and beauty are propelling bakeware into the future. Deciding if that future includes sugar cookies or layer cakes is up to you.
Here’s how you can get started.
Cinnamon and butter, sugar and vanilla—nothing establishes the warmth of a kitchen like fresh baked goods. But even if the joys are age-old, today’s brides don’t have to settle for their grandmothers’ Bundt pans. Revolutions in style, function and beauty are propelling bakeware into the future. Deciding if that future includes sugar cookies or layer cakes is up to you. Here’s how you can get started.
Whether you bake daily or have just begun to toy with the idea of cookies, you’ll need some bakeware. But before you register for every hot new pan, figure out what you really might use, says Ken Mackay, sales associate at Dona Flor in Boston. “Do you entertain a lot? If so, what do you make—and what do you want to make?”
You can cover most of your baking needs by adding these pieces to your registry: a 9-inch rectangular pan; loaf, pie and muffin pans; a cookie sheet and a set of steel mixing bowls. Look for items that can multitask, says Rob Navarino, owner of The Chef’s Shop in Great Barrington. “A loaf pan can be used to make a quick banana bread or a meatloaf,” he says. “And a cookie sheet is great for everything.”
Don’t forget tools. Tom Verdini, owner of the Cape Cod Cookery in Centerville, recommends a good rolling pin, flour sifter, cooling rack, pastry brush, and either a stand or hand mixer. Serious bakers need a serious mixer, ideally one on a stand that can handle high volume. While KitchenAid’s 5-quart, 325-watt Artisan Series tilt-head stand mixer has long been a bridal favorite, as much for its juicy designer colors as for its mixing power, it’s not the only mixer in town. Viking makes two models, including one with what Navarino calls “a dough-busting 1,000-watt” motor. The Viking Professional stand mixer comes in six colors, with more planned. And for those who want a countertop sculpture that works for serious bakers, DeLonghi has a dashing streamlined new model, the DSM7, that features a powerful 980-watt motor and 7-quart capacity.
Hot for the Oven
New products and materials are making everything from mixing to cleaning up more convenient and fun. Silicone continues to be a hot material, partly because it can handle the heat. The nonstick, rubber-like material withstands temperatures of around 500 degrees without melting, and it is scratch- and stain-resistant and dishwasher-safe. Increasingly, manufacturers are using it for molds, from Bundt pans to muffin tins, because it’s easy to pop out the contents. And, says Michele Fais, assistant manager of KitchenArts in Boston, silicone’s squeezable, foldable texture makes it a snap to store.
Silverwood Bakeware revolutionized the square cake pan in one simple motion. The British manufacturer realized that bakers want to get their cakes out easily and in one piece without flipping them over, and it developed the Eyecatcher line that pulls open like a drawer. “Just pull out the side and the cake comes out,” says Stacey O’Brien, CCP, culinary coordinator at Eurostoves in Beverly. “They’re stackable and great for making wedding cakes.” Eurostoves stocks several sizes of the anodized pans.
So what makes one pan cost $30 and another one $50? Crafstmanship is key, says Louise Barber, who for 25 years helmed the Concord Shop in Concord. Her store is packed full of molds for cakes and cookies, often of solid European tin-steel, which won’t buckle with heat and wear. What you are looking for, say Barber and other experts, is solid construction of quality materials. Heavier materials cost more, but last longer, and a well-crafted piece earns its higher price tag with seams that won’t split and bottoms that never burn out. “There’s no reason to buy five or six Bundt pans in your lifetime,” says Barber. “Buy the right one and it lasts.”
Bakeware isn’t just for baking. If you prefer flowers to flour, you’ll still appreciate the look of decorative pieces, from traditional ceramic beauties to fun, funky colors. Classic Provençal-style ceramics, such as those at Dona Flor, make great display pieces in the kitchen and dining rooms. This hand-painted French bakeware is practical artwork when perched on glass shelving or hung on a wall, and just as pretty to serve dessert in. Even more mainstream brands play up a fashionable side. Emile Henry’s colorful fluted pie pans make the trip easily from kitchen to dining room, even if you’re taking your desserts out of a bakery box.
Pink is this season’s kitchen color, says O’Brien. This blushing hue can be found everywhere, from silicone pads and brushes to KitchenAid utensils. Brides who are drawn to the new pinks, which range from pale to magenta, can register for items that contribute to breast cancer research funds, such as Emile Henry’s “Bake for the Cause” fluted pie pan.
But the bright new kitchen isn’t limited to one hue. “Color is coming back,” says Robyn Michaels, owner of Gadgets in Jamaica Plain. She carries NordicWare, which has begun making its aluminum cake and Bundt pans in shades of blue and green.
“Mostly, you’re still going to take the cake out and not serve it in the pan,” says Michaels. But with more creative kitchen designs that include glass shelves and cabinets, she says, bakeware ends up getting displayed more often.