Pros: Heavy-gauge metal, non-stick lining
Cons: Doesn't have little feet, so you can't cool the cake upside down in the pan
My birthday is January 27. My mother's was January 26. My father's was January 24.
My mother was Austrian, and loved rich but not-too-sweet pastries.
Put all those facts together and you get an orgy of baking in late January.
In our family, the traditional birthday cake was the kuglhupf, an almond-and-raisin-studded yeast cake sprinkled with powdered sugar. (Except my sister; she wanted a fresh fruit tart, but what could you expect - she was born in March.) The cake is baked in a fluted, rounded angel-food-like pan called a Turk's head because of it's turbanish shape, and traditionally has a blanched almond at the top of each groove. (Turk's-head pans are similar to Bundts, but taller and narrower.) If properly made, it's light and delicious, and is even better the next day, cut into slices, toasted lightly, and spread with sweet butter. Move over, Proust - I'm on a real taste-memory trip here.
Mom would bake one for Daddy, I would bake one for her once I was old enough to bake, and she would bake one for me, so we'd have a kuglhupf orgy that would last about a week.
One of the first items I bought for myself when I set up my household 30+ years ago was a kuglhupf pan. I think I was trying to connect with my childhood as I baked a kuglhupf for each birthday, mine and other people's. (The first time I did one on my own as an adult, I slid it into the oven, heaved a huge sigh of relief, turned around... and saw the eggs sitting on the counter. That baby was heavy enough to anchor the Queen Mary.) I'm not sure how much they appreciated it, actually, because most of my American-born friends were used to non-yeast cakes with gooey frostings, but they were polite enough not to look askance when I hove into sight with my Turk's-head on a platter.
Many years ago, I needed to make a "token" cake for someone, and didn't want to make a full-sized one. So I went looking for a mini pan. I was fortunate enough to find a Kaiser Noblesse Bundtform Pan, and have used it happily ever since.
? This little guy is the mini version of Kaiser's standard Bundt pan. It stands 3-1/2" tall and is 6-1/2" in diameter. The tube in the center is 1-3/4" in diameter.
? The tube is about 3/16" inch taller than the rim of the pan, so you can cool the cake upside down, balanced on the end of the tube.
? The Kaiser Noblesse Bundtform Pan has a capacity of four cups, or one liter. The literature says it holds 4-1/2 cups, but if you fill it that full, there's no room for the cake to rise.
? The form is sort of a cross between a Bundt and a Turk's-head. It's got diagonal fluting at the top (bottom of the pan, top of the cake) and a vertical design around the bottom. Maybe that's why they call it a "Bundtform" instead of just "Bundt."
? It's made of a very heavy-gauge steel, with a coated inside surface so the cake doesn't stick and a black outside surface for even heating.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT
? There are times when I don't want or need a big cake. My friends enjoy my baking, but none of them has a sweet tooth, so a small cake is just right for a small dinner party of eight people.
? Although it's small, it's very sturdy and well-built, and has lasted me for 12 years so far. Granted, I don't use it every week, but I have a lot of things in my kitchen that are all banged up and grody after a few uses. This isn't one of them.
? The non-stick interior surface allows the cake to slide out easily. I'm not sure what kind of surface it is - it's not Teflon or Silverstone, as far as appearances indicate - but whatever it is, it works, and doesn't seem to scratch. You do have to lightly butter or oil the interior, of course, but I've never had to attack the cake with a thin knife to loosen it from this pan, as I usually do with my others. So, of course, the finish is preserved much better and hasn't scratched yet. (Hint: Instead of greasing and flouring your pans, use a little butter and some sugar from the recipe instead. The sugar doesn't show white against the outside of the finished cake the way flour does.)
? It cleans up easily. The manufacturer recommends hand-washing, so I usually give it a swipe with a sudsy brush. Because of the non-stick interior surface, you dont' have to worry about burnt-on bits, and if some of the batter does overflow and stick, just soak it for an hour before washing.
WHAT I'D CHANGE IF I COULD
? The most obvious item here is the math; I have to halve my recipes. That's easy with some and not so easy with others. So I avoid recipes that call for three eggs!
? Unlike most true angel-food pans, this one doesn't have any feet, and the center tube isn't that much longer than the pan that you can reliably rest the pan on it to cool. So I cool it on a little rack, or an unused stove burner, so air can circulate around it.
I bought mine so long ago that I don't remember what I paid for it, but I've seen it in the stores for anywhere from $13 to $16.
This is a handy little pan that makes cakes that are downright cute. If you can tolerate a cute cake, this is the pan for you. Five stars.
The original measurements are given by weight, in the European fashion, rather than by volume. I have converted them to volume, and included the original weights, converted from metric to Imperial, in parens. And because it is a yeast cake, it works nicely as a coffee cake.
When I was small, I would sit cross-legged on the floor with the bowl in the middle and beat the dough for about 15 minutes with a wooden spoon. Thank God for heavy-duty stand mixers with dough hooks! You could probably also knead the dough in a heavy-duty food processor, but I've never tried that.
This recipe is for a full-sized cake. You'll need to halve the ingredients for the Kaiser Noblesse Bundtform Pan. And as usual with my recipes, c = cup, T = tablespoon, and t = teaspoon.
2 T. sweet sherry
? c. raisins
1 c. milk
1 envelope yeast
? c. sugar (2 ozs.)
handful of whole almonds, peels on
4 c. flour (1 lb., 2 ozs.)
1? sticks sweet butter (5 ozs.)
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
Put the sherry into a cup and add the raisins. Set aside.
Heat a small amount of the milk to about 90?.
Add a pinch of sugar and the yeast.
Set it aside to proof for about 5 minutes. It should be bubbly and active. If it isn?t, it?s dead; toss it and start again.
Bring some water to a boil and blanch the almonds for about 30 seconds.
Squirt them out of their skins.
Butter and sugar a Turks-head (full recipe) or Kaiser Noblesse Bundtform Pan (half recipe.)
Put a whole blanched almond at the bottom of each groove, near the center.
Crush the remaining almonds into little pieces.
Combine the rest of the milk and sugar, flour, butter, eggs, salt, and the sherry in which the raisins have been soaking. Mix well.
Beat with a wooden spoon for about 10 minutes, or the dough hook of an electric stand mixer, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl into a smooth ball. The longer you beat it, the finer the crumb.
Briefly beat in the raisins and almonds.
Put the dough into the prepared pan as evenly as possible.
Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Bake for 60 - 90 minutes at 350?.
Let cool a few minutes in the form.
Remove from the form and sprinkle with sugar.
Continue cooling on a rack.
There a little more information about this pan at http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=104817