Tips & Tricks
How to Use the Holiday Wreath Pan
Individual desserts are all the rage, and the new Lodge Holiday Wreath Pan presents a unique way to make that happen. But how do you work with it? Here are some tips, from start to finish, to bake your best and most beautiful holiday desserts.
Choose the right recipe
With patterned pans in general, it’s important to choose a recipe that’s fairly closely grained. Any recipe that slices well and is sturdy enough to stack as a layer cake should work. Pound cakes or recipes written for Bundt pans are a good place to start.
Make it right-sized
The wreath pan takes 1/3 cup of batter to fill each well about 3/4 full. The idea is to put enough batter into each well to create all the details in the pattern, without having too high a dome on each cake when it bakes. Too much batter would overflow the wells, causing them to bake together and risking it running over the edge of the pan and onto your oven floor.
Most standard layer-cake recipes create about 6 cups of batter. This amount is enough for two 9-inch layers, three 8-inch layers, 24 cupcakes, or one 9 x 5 inch loaf cake. The wreath pan needs just over 2 cups of batter to fill all of its wells without overflowing. In general, if you have a favorite cake recipe you’d like to try, make a half batch and you’ll end up with enough for the wreath pan’s cakes and perhaps a cupcake or two on the side with the leftover batter. Or, if you make the full recipe, fill the wreath pan and bake a layer or two to go with it.
Pan prep and tips
First, grease the wells of your wreath pan. You can use pan spray, oil, or shortening. Don’t use butter; the water in it makes it more likely that the cakes will stick. If you use a pan spray, use a pastry brush to even out the film of oil; this will prevent bubbles from forming on what will become the tops of the cakes.
Next, don’t overfill the wells of the pan. There should be ¼-inch of space left in each well; this will fill in as the cakes rise. Once the batter is in the wells, tease it to the edges with a small offset spatula or the tip of a table knife (see photo).
One last hint: Once you’ve portioned the batter, pick up the pan and tap it on the counter 3 or 4 times before baking it. This will ensure the batter is nicely settled into all the voids in the pattern.
Sometimes giving the filled pan a time-out in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes will enhance the final look of patterned cakes; this rest allows the leavening to disperse just enough to allow the cakes’ surfaces to be more uniform.
Getting the cakes out in one piece
Timing is key here. It’s important that the cake is cooled enough not to be too fragile, but still warm enough to be flexible so it doesn’t crack or tear as you take it out. After you take the cake out of the oven, put it on a rack and set a timer for 15 minutes. As the cakes cool, it’s ok to gently pull them back from the edges of the wells.
Once the timer goes off, tilt the pan or put it up on its edge to loosen the cakes and gently remove them. A tapered, small offset spatula can be helpful with this. If you don’t have one, a fork can help you ease the cakes out enough so you can handle them.
The Finishing Touch
Patterned cakes are best enhanced with simple finishes. This can be as basic as a sugar syrup or a dusting of powdered sugar. Frosting should be thin enough to be sheer, so that the pattern from the pan shows through. Glazing the cakes helps to keep them fresh and moist. For the Holiday Wreath Pan, a bit of colored frosting can trace the pattern from the pan to enhance the design.
For the final wow, choose a large platter and place the cakes on it in the same orientation as they came of the pan. Tinted shredded coconut or toasted sliced almonds can be used as a background to enhance the final presentation.
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