Tuesday, March 23, 2021

rum cake: the snag

I didn't bake a rum cake last night because I hit a major snag—one I would have known about a week ago had I bothered to check.  The snag:  as it turns out, my Bundt pan is two centimeters too wide for my oven.  The pan has a long axis (where the handles are) and a short axis, which makes its view from the top look almost elliptical.  By rotating the handles so that they didn't jut out, I had hoped to have enough room for the oven's door to close.  Alas, the Bundt pan, even along its short axis, is just a wee bit too wide (click images to enlarge):

As you see above, the Bundt pan is in the oven, and the door is slightly cracked open.  In a baking situation, this means that a good bit of heat would escape because there's no proper seal around the door.  I thought of three solutions, the first of which I dismissed immediately:

1. Take a hacksaw and file down the edges of the pan so that the short axis is even shorter.
2. Take pliers and bend up the edges so that the pan has a skinnier profile.
3. Buy a smaller Bundt pan.

Solution (1) was ridiculous on its face.  It would take a ton of elbow grease, and the jagged result of my clumsy cutting would be a pan that was unsafe to handle.  Then there's the cleanup:  I'd be faced with a snowfall of metal filings everywhere.  Solution (2) struck me as a clever alternative, so I broke out my regular and my needle-nose pliers.  What I didn't count on was how strong the pan's metal actually was (or how weak I am):  try as I might, I couldn't bend those pan edges upward at all.  I succeeded only in chipping a bit of paint where the pliers met the pan.  Solution (3), buying a smaller pan, is where I'm leaning right now, but there's also a Solution 4:

A year or so ago, I had bought an Amazon-brand Silpat silicone mat—the kind you use for making candy.  The original Silpat is French, and it can withstand up to about 600 degrees Fahrenheit of heat.  The Amazon Basics version is a bit cheaper and weaker; according to Amazon.com, it's rated for about 500°F.  As you see in the above picture, I've placed the silicone mat inside the oven's door.  The mat's flexibility helps to create a seal around the door's edges.  It's not a perfect seal, to be sure, but it's a damn sight better than leaving the oven's door cracked open.

My major worry, though, is whether the bottom of the mat would survive the direct onslaught of my oven's heating elements, which are located at both the bottom and the top of the oven—its floor and ceiling, if you will.  I won't be using the top heating elements, but the mat's bottom will be only two inches away from the bottom heating elements.  The oven's temperature will be set for about 350°F, which should be well below the mat's tolerance level, but I have to wonder whether proximity might be an issue.

Is it worth the risk to test whether the silicone-mat solution works?  Even a test run could be dangerous for both the mat and the oven:  Silpats can apparently melt and/or burn (trivia:  finding an image of a damaged Silpat via Google is quite difficult), and once you've reached that point, you've lost the Silpat, and you've probably also ruined your oven.  Upshot:  if you run the test, then by the time you find out that using a Silpat in this way is a bad idea, you've already ruined everything.

As I'm writing all this (and thereby thinking out loud, so to speak), I'm beginning to think that it's better just to buy a smaller Bundt pan.  I need one that's got a short axis of 26 cm, and since I know there's a brick-and-mortar B&C Market over at the Express Bus Terminal Station, I'm going to go hunting for Bundting tonight.


Charles said...

Ah, that blows. But I think a smaller Bundt pan is definitely the way to go.

Kevin Kim said...

Me, too. Gonna go shopping in a few minutes.

John Mac said...

You better hurry, the store closes at 8:00!

(sorry, couldn't help myself).

Kevin Kim said...

John Mac,

Har. Har.