What IS this thing? I wondered when I unwrapped a package containing this silver star-shaped tube. Had the box not said “Pampered Chef” on the side, I doubt that I would have known it was for cooking. A relative sent me this for my birthday and I immediately looked it up, using the terms “Pampered Chef,” “star,” and “tube.” Lo and behold, it was made for baking bread.
The relative who sent it to me was unaware of my affinity for vintage kitchen items, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive this funny little mystery item. A lot of the search results for bread tubes were labeled as vintage, and the kitsch factor led me to assume it was true. After all, there was a whole trend of shaped food back in the middle of the century with molds and aspics, and throwing the contents of your refrigerator into some jell-o. I set out to find the dates it was sold but came up empty-handed, so I went straight to the source and called the company. Turns out, these bread tubes are fairly new, having been sold between 2002 and 2009. I did find some hits for a glass version made my Pyrex in the 70s and 80s though, so perhaps Pampered Chef was trying to go for a throwback. The star, flower, and heart shapes certainly make for more interesting bread than a circle. (c’mon pyrex, loaves of bread are almost circles already.) They also improved upon the Pyrex version by adding caps for each end.
There seem to be plenty of bread tube recipes available on the internet, so I figured it must be pretty easy to use. But every time I considered trying it, the thought of figuring out the logistics of baking in a tube felt exhausting, so it hung out in a lonely cupboard for quite a while. Fast forward a bit and I found myself craving banana bread. I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to test out this bread tube and searched for instructions. A lot of people seemed to use the tubes solely for pre-made doughs and didn’t recommend using them for quick breads, such a banana or zucchini. Being more of the made-from-scratch sort, I decided to ignore them and try it anyway.
Here’s what makes baking in a tube different – you bake it standing upright. Meaning for my oven, I had to take out a shelf.
Some bread tube tips:
-Spray the inside of the pan VERY well if you want to have any hope of getting your bread out intact. I sprayed from each end of the tube.
-Add a layer of foil between the tube and the cap. Spray this with cooking spray too. This isn’t my advice but I took it and was glad I did. It made the bread easier to detach from the cap.
-Stand the tube up on top of a cookie sheet. I was worried it might seep out the bottom of the pan. It did.
-Only fill the tube up halfway with batter. Mine ended up not quite rising all the way, but that’s better than the alternative of having it spill all over. I just baked the rest of the batter in a regular loaf pan.
I used the same baking temperature as my recipe called for, but took it out about 10 minutes early. I probably could have left it in slightly longer, but I personally prefer underdone to overdone. My go-t0 banana bread recipe is from Flour Bakery in Boston. It’s awesome. (Sorry grandma.) They have a great book too. I added chocolate chips to my bread by special request.
Thankfully, I had no difficulty getting my banana bread out of the pan. The middle was slightly underdone, but not terribly. I highly recommend waiting until it is cool to try to slice it, and using a nice sharp knife to do so.
So, these bread tubes may not actually be vintage but they fit the vibe. Make some fancy canapes or fun shapes for kids. If all else fails, it makes a really easy cookie cutter.