Cake recipes sometimes call for the use of either a Bundt pan or a tube pan. Although they look quite similar, they may not always be interchangeable without a careful consideration of the ingredients and the baking times specified in the recipe.
A tube pan is a deep smooth-sided baking pan with a hollow tube in the middle. It is used primarily for baking angel food and sponge cakes. The tube pan can be made as a single piece pan or as a two piece pan with a removable flat round bottom to help extricate the cake after baking. They are most always constructed of aluminum. In some recipe books, tube pans are referred to as angel food cake pans.
A Bundt pan is an ornamental tube pan. The Bundt is very popular for making rather dense cakes of the pound-cake variety. This pan is heavily constructed, usually of cast aluminum, with heavy fluted sides and, like the tube pan, a hollow tube in the center so cake batters can rise and bake uniformly.
A Bundt pan is typically 10 by 3 1/4 inches and holds 12 cups of batter. A tube pan of the same capacity would measure 10 by 4 inches. If you are unsure of the capacity, the best way to measure it is to fill the pan with water, and then pour the water into a graduated container. If the pan is a two-piece tube pan, line it first with a plastic bag before filling it.
Tube pans are designed for baking angel food cake, which contains lots of beaten egg whites but no fat in the batter. The high sides and removable bottom with a central tube promote rapid rising and even baking.
Bundt pans are generally used for baking the denser batters of coffee cakes and sweet cakes called Bundt cakes. Their fluted sides and greater surface area produce more crust, which is desirable in cakes of this type. Like tube pans, a Bundt pan also has a tube in the middle to promote even baking. The tube, incidentally, also makes the cake easier to slice.
It is always best to follow the recipe and use the type of pan called for, as well as the recommended temperature and baking time. If that is not possible, the most crucial element to watch for is the baking time. How much extra time or less time it will take to bake depends on the dimensions of the pan you use. Baking time is likely to be shorter if you use a shallow pan. To test for doneness, use a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake. When the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done, regardless of the shape of the pan.