Tube Pan vs. Bundt Pan

Lemon cake batter inside a bundt pan

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If you see a baking pan with a cylindrical tube in the center, you might automatically assume it’s a tube pan, but it could be a Bundt pan. I’ll explain the differences and talk about when you need a tube pan versus a Bundt pan in this article.

What are the differences between a tube pan and a Bundt pan? Bundt pans feature grooves and ridges that produce a beautiful cake you can serve without icing or frosting, maybe just a glaze. Tube pans aren’t embellished and are recommended for making desserts like angel food cake.  

Keep reading for more information on both tube pans and Bundt pans so you can take your baking to the next level! 

Tube Pan vs. Bundt Pan – What’s the Difference?

Most cake pans are round with a flat bottom, but some feature the addition of a hollow tube or cylinder in the middle. This type of pan, appropriately enough, is a tube pan. 

Bundt pans are technically a variation of the tube pan, but how can you tell the two apart? First, I’ll explain the two types of pans, then I’ll delve into the differences per the intro.

What’s a Tube Pan?

The presence of the cylindrical tube is what makes a tube pan. The pan is primarily made of metal with straight sides. The finish is sometimes coated, but much more frequently, it isn’t. 

A base plate will usually be included with a tube pan that comes out to aide in the removal of the cake from the pan.

So why the presence of the tube at all, you ask? Is it for looks or something?

The central cylinder in the tube pan is to improve baking. The tube acts as a heat conductor, which has twofold benefits.

The first perk is that if your cake has depth or heft to it, it can bake in less time than if you put it in the oven in a pan without a tube. 

The tube also allows the cake to release easier from the pan when the time comes. 

What’s a Bundt Pan?

You’ve likely heard of Bundt cakes, which are baked in Bundt pans. 

Bundt pans came to North America sometime between the 1950s and the 1960s thanks to a brand of cookware known as Nordic Ware.

The pans were always called Bundt pans, and at the time, they were mostly made of cast aluminum. These days, different metals and other materials are used. 

When Pillsbury began marketing Bundt cake recipes, the mold and the cake took off, and the rest is history. 

Although today, Bundt pans come in many styles, they’re characterized by their grooved or fluted sides throughout the pan. 

The design flourish lends the Bundt cake more visual intricacy and can make you look like a masterful baker. 

Like tube pans, Bundt pans feature a center cylinder or tube. The purposes of the tube are the same, which are to improve baking time and to help the cake remove from the pan. 

Since Bundt cakes are so appealing on their own, there’s usually little need to decorate them. You might dust your Bundt cake with powdered sugar or prepare a little glaze that you cover only part of the cake with. 

How Are They Different?

Bundt pans, being a type of tube pan, are not all that different. The main difference between them is the design of the sides. 

Tube pans will always have smooth, straight edges. As I’ll talk more about in the next section, that makes tube pans very adept at baking certain types of cakes. Bundt pans are ornately decorated, which is a trademark of the Bundt cake. 

Baking in a Tube Pan vs. a Bundt Pan – What to Expect 

Despite their many similarities, tube pans and Bundt pans will bake up your favorite desserts in quite disparate ways. Allow me to explain how the presence of flat sides versus grooved ones can impact the final result. 

How Tube Pans Bake

Tube pans are nicknamed angel food pans because they’re the perfect pans for preparing that light, airy, fluffy dessert. 

That’s far from the only recipe you can use your tube pan for. You can also rely on these pans for producing a beautiful pound cake as well as a coffee cake or a chiffon cake. 

Tube pans bake up the best when you use one of two types of cake batter:

one that’s moist and dense such as for pound cake or one that’s airy and low-fat, as in when making angel food cake or chiffon cake. 

Since tube pans are larger than Bundt pans, you can fit slightly more batter in the pan, which increases the volume of your cake even more. 

This especially makes sense when baking angel food cake. Since the batter has egg whites, it’s nice and airy. When baked in the oven, the air in the batter can expand freely.  

The tube pan will bake the cake evenly on all sides considering that there are no design flourishes throughout the pan to impact the baking process. 

The cake that pops out of a tube pan perhaps isn’t the most attractive thing, but with angel food cakes and pound cakes, you’re expecting a rather simple result. 

You can always make an angel food cake look better with a dusting of powdered sugar, a few dollops of freshly-made whipped cream, and sliced ruby-red strawberries.

To jazz up a pound cake, consider upgrading the batter. By adding crunchy nuts or smooth ribbons of fruity jam throughout, your pound cake will look incredible as soon as it pops out of the tube pan. 

You can also prepare a thin glaze for a pound cake to make it smoother and moister. 

How Bundt Pans Bake

The grooves and ridges of a Bundt pan are for more than decoration. When baking a high-fat cake recipe, the batter that gathers in those grooves will darken and caramelize.

Now you have baked-in strips of excellent flavor that augment the consistent taste of the rest of the cake.

There’s no limit to the number of Bundt cake recipes out there, so you can feel free to make variations of what you’ve seen online or even come up with your own fun creation. Here are some types of cakes you can bake in a Bundt pan:

  • Rum cake
  • Pound cake
  • Chocolate cake
  • Monkey bread
  • Pull-apart bread
  • Coffee cake
  • Carrot cake
  • Apple cake
  • Jell-O cake

Even if the cake is rather traditional and not that interesting on its own, such as a carrot cake or a chocolate cake, baking the recipe in a Bundt pan transforms its look. 

The shape and texture of your cake will impress your friends, family, or guests whether you’re celebrating a birthday party, an anniversary, or any special occasion. 

Since Bundt cakes aren’t layered like a traditional cake, they have no icing. A thin glaze adds moisture to your cake, especially if it came out a bit dry. 

Can You Use Tube Pans and Bundt Pans Interchangeably? 

No, while there are similarities, by design each of these pans produces very different results.

In the last section, you couldn’t help but notice that some of the recipes you can make in a tube pan, you can also bake in a Bundt pan, such as pound cake and coffee cake. 

That has you thinking, if you don’t have one type of pan handy, can you just use the other instead? How different will the cakes really come out?

Quite different!

As I said before, tube pans are meant for larger, lighter cakes with lots of air and not as much fat. If you tried baking an angel food cake in a Bundt pan, the air wouldn’t be able to expand as required. 

The cake will come out very dense. The flavor might be there, at least a little bit, but the cake won’t look or feel like an angel food cake. 

Then there’s the issue of removing a low-fat cake from a Bundt pan. 

The fat in Bundt cake recipes isn’t only to incorporate a greater depth of flavor in the ridges. Without the fat, the cake doesn’t come out of the pan without a fight. 

You’ll more than likely be left with a cake that’s in chunks and pieces if you try baking a tube pan cake in a Bundt pan.  

Thank you for sharing!

Catherine Cruzz

I first fell in love with all things kitchen when I was growing up and working alongside my father in Florida at our family's appliance service and installation company. Many years later, and thousands of miles away from family I was enjoying a wonderful experience at a culinary school in Pennsylvania. That’s when I realized that along with my passion for holidays and cooking, I was still just as interested in the appliances, kitchenware, and cookware that I grew up around.

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