Bundt pan? Tube pan? What’s the difference, and can you use them interchangeably?
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Close up of a bundt cake pan
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How much do you know about your Bundt pan? Did you know that it was invented by H. David Dalquist—a World War II veteran who served as a Navy radar technician—in 1950? Dalquist was living in Minneapolis and trying to help a Jewish women’s society reproduce the cakes their European mothers had made for them. They were a hit, and his company Nordic Ware ended up making millions of them, which nowadays you can find in kitchens worldwide.

Bundts are famed for their characteristic fluted sides and inner tubes, but it’s tricky to know when you can “Bundt” and when you can’t. We reached out to Pam Lolley of the Time Inc. Food Studios, who has been developing and testing recipes for magazines for 14 years and baking professionally for 20, to make sure we understood everything there is to know about Bundts and tube pans.

What exactly is a “tube pan”?

According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, it is “a round pan with deep sides and a hollow center tube used for baking cake, especially angel food or sponge cake.” (Some people consider the Bundt to be a subset of this category of pan.) Often tube pans have detachable sides, which Bundt pans do not. With a tube pan, the center tube and detachable sides help you invert a delicate cake like angel food onto a bottle "so it doesn’t deflate, says Lolley.

How is a Bundt pan different?

Bundt pans have fluted sides and are less ideal for a chiffon cake or angel food cake, but are otherwise pretty interchangeable with tube pans, says Lolley.

What should I look for in a Bundt?

Look for a light-colored pan. “Some Bundts [in the test kitchen] I won’t ever touch, if they’re dark steel gray or black,” says Lolley. Darker pans tend to conduct heat better, and thus “they will over-brown your cakes.” She likes a Bundt with a white interior and a bright exterior, and remains a fan of the Nordic Ware brand.

Should I grease a Bundt?

Absolutely, says Lolley, who greases and flours every Bundt—even those that are nonstick—using vegetable shortening. “Some people prefer butter,” she says, “but to me, it tends to burn.”

Pro Tip: Let it sit

Bundts and pound cakes should sit on wire racks for a full 15 minutes before they are turned out, says Lolley, which “lets the cake settle; when you remove it from the oven it’s actually still baking.”

Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen