How many times has this happened to you? You’ve gathered all the ingredients you need to bake—in my case, I was testing Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez’s recipe for Gourmet Live’s Thanksgiving apple crostata (insanely delicious, by the way)—when you suddenly realize you don’t have the right-sized pan. The springform pan stashed deep in my cupboard turned out to be a 10-inch, not the 9-inch I needed for the recipe. Arrgghhh!
The closest cookware store to my apartment—where I now test recipes in a real-life kitchen—is Williams-Sonoma, about a 15-minute walk away. I love any excuse to wander around Williams-Sonoma, but bargain is not a word I associate with the place.
The sales clerk shows me the only 9-inch springform she has. This Kaiser LaFormer Plus pan (above) looks nothing like the light-colored and stained metal springform sides and bottoms that once filled a huge drawer in the old Gourmet magazine test kitchen. This new one is heavy, for starters, because it’s commercial grade steel coated with two layers of a non-stick ceramic surface. Heavy is a good thing with springforms, because the flimsy ones bend out of shape easily. And the locking mechanism on the side is serious. No baked good is messing with that lock!
The bottom is different, too. It’s wider, with an extra lip on the outside that makes the pan leak-proof. The Gourmet kitchen staff had a regular problem with butter leaking out of the old springform pans and onto the oven bottoms, causing smoke and a general mess.
But the best new feature is this: The base is designed so that your pie or cake slides right off it and onto a rack to cool, or onto a platter for serving. No longer do you have to pry a heavy cheesecake loose from under the lip of the old base. The editorial staff went through verbal contortions to explain to Gourmet readers how to flip the springform bottom over—before locking on the side—to eliminate the nuisance the lip caused.
The price for all this improvement? Get ready for sticker shock: 62 buckaroos! That’s a fortune when you’re expecting to pay around $20. Believe me, I hesitate. For several long minutes. But I eventually spring for it, because the new pan is so well-made, I’ll never have to buy another one, and that’s not something I could say before. Isn’t it reassuring to know that some things today are better than they used to be?