tri-ply sides vs. disk-bottom for saucepans

msreviseMarch 6, 2007

This subject came up on another thread, and i thought i'd start a new thread about it. I need some new saucepans, and i was looking at the tri-ply versions (henkel, all-clad, viking, etc), but i wonder if it's better to get a disk-bottom for this type of pan? My everyday saute pan/chef's pan is my only tri-ply, everything else i have is either disk-bottom, cast-iron or enameled cast-iron, so it's hard for me to compare. Could those of you who've used both kinds please weigh in? I use my saucepans for everything from cooking rice to reducing sauces--although for large quantities of heartier sauce i use the chef's pan, b/c i find it easier to see into and to control the process. TIA!

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I suspect that our discussion about Demeyere prompted your question. :-) You've probably already seen this on the Demeyere site:

"Experience shows that for each cooking method the heat transfer involved is essentially different; hence compatible cooking utensils are required. There is not one particular mode of technology that is suitable for all utensils. Hence, Demeyere has developed a specific technology for each type of cooking utensil.

For cooking methods with fluids, such as making soups or steaming vegetables, Demeyere uses walls of stainless steel 18/10 that keep the heat inside the pan, combined with a heat-conducting bottom that spreads the heat optimally. For certain recipes and cooking methods, the heat should also be spread along the sides. This is the case e.g. when grilling, frying, simmering, preparing delicate sauces, stir-frying, etc. In these particular cases, a multi-layer material (7-PlyMaterial) up to the edge is ideal."

My experience with the Atlantis disk-bottom pans is that they work extremely well. I haven't had a chance to A/B compare them with straight-gauge cookware, though, so I'm also interested in hearing from anybody who has used high-quality cookware of both types.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:28PM
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I'll be the dissenting voice here, fully admitting that many people who are very knowledgeable disagree with me. I had a Sitram set of stainless steel with disc bottoms. I do not like that arrangement. I frequently ended up with a brown ring around the inside of the pan at the junction of the thick and thin parts. I'm a careful and somewhat trained cook, so carelessness is probably not the reason for my experience. I prefer cookware that is of an even thickness on the bottom and sides. For steaming vegetables or boiling water, it doesn't matter, but I would not want a pot limited to just those activities anyway.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 12:59PM
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When it really matters to me that I have perfect control over temperature for sauces, I use one of the tin-lined copper pieces I schlepped back from Europe decades ago. Of all the stuff I've used, nothing compares.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 1:07PM
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The Atlantis disk bottoms go all the way out to the sides of the pans to prevent the problem that KD is seeing with Sitram. I have Atlantis, and this design works--I don't have hot spots on the corners.

The copper disks are very good for fast, responsive control of the temperature. I have 11" sauce pots in both Atlantis and in 2.5mm SS-lined copper, and haven't noticed any difference in performance between the two. (Although, the only thing I do in them that requires any finesse is making gravy.)

I think the Apollo disk bottoms are like the Sitram, so you might see some burning around the edges in that line.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 2:39PM
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Kitchendetective: I also have Sitram--for about 30 years--and have the same problem. I ususally manaage to keep a close eye on things, but sometimes it gets away from me & I end up with that burned ring, too. However, overall, I love the pots & they still look as good as new.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 8:57PM
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KD and Leel,

I'm looking at Sitram catering line with the copper disk bottom. The burned ring you experienced, is that the Profiserie line, or the Catering line? I wonder if the disks are the same construction between the two lines of Sitram.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 1:05AM
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Mine is the Catering line, with a copper disk.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 9:33AM
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Could one of you explain the "disk bottom" vs not?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:15PM
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DM, it turns out that we're actually talking about three different kinds of construction.

1) The construction used in the straight-sided Demeyere Atlantis and Sirocco pans, which have a 2mm copper disk on the bottom, completely encapsulated in stainless steel, that covers 100% of the bottom of the pan. The sides are stainless steel, with no core of heat-conducting material.

2) "Straight-guage" construction, which is used by All Clad, and by Demeyere for their pieces that have slanted or curved sides, such as frying pans and curved sauteuse pans. These have an aluminum core, with stainless steel on the outside and inside. The aluminum core is continuous from the edge of the pan, across the bottom, and back up the other side.

3) The disk bottoms used in almost all other "disk bottom" pans, such as Sitram, which only go to where the bottom starts to curve upwards.

The problem with the 3rd type is that a gas burner can directly heat the part of the bottom that isn't covered by the disk, causing food in that part of the pan to burn on.

Construction types 1&2 don't have that problem.

The question from the OP is whether there are any differences in cooking performance between types 1 and 2. I've wieghed in that the copper-bottom construction in the Demeyere pans in my experience provides very even heat and precise control. So far, no one with experience with both types 1 and 2, so that they can actually compare the two, has posted.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 6:32PM
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msrevise, I make a lot of soups and one pot meals and for these I like my All Clad. They all see to require less stiring and very even cooking. For things like quick veggies, pasta water etc I don't think it matters.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 12:41PM
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Are the tri-ply Calphalon pans the same sort of construction as the All Clad, i.e. No. 2 in solarpowered's description? What makes All Clad particularly desirable?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 2:09PM
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I have both the disk bottom (Sitram Cybernox--4 frypans and an evasee) and clad cookware, lots and lots of the clad (All-Clad, Calphalon One, Kitchenaid Hi-Density Hard Anodized, etc.) I was surprised when folks were complaining about a burned ring around the edge of the disk bottomed cookare because I've never seen it. When I read solarpowered's post that was cleared up. He pointed out that this is a problem with some disk bottomed cookware with a gas range. I have an electric range.

I've been collecting cookware for 30 years and have a rather extensive collection. It's been my experience that pretty much all really good cookware performs very well. Heavy copper will outperfom everything else but, that aside, it's all good. Just about all the top cookware now has stay-cool handles and conduct heat well. Most have a lifetime warranty and will serve you well. However, if I had a gas stove I probably would not get disk bottoms.

msrevise, my adice is that if you have an electric stove then it doesn't make much difference but if you have a gas stove then go with the clad.

All that said, everytime I look at the Demeyere Atlantis I drool.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 9:23PM
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My Sitram set was purchased from a big box store several years ago. My son has it now and likes it, but he has an electric stovetop. The disc definitely does not extend all the way to the edges of the pan.
A note about copper. I have Bourgeat copper lined in SS and old hand-hammered copper lined in tin. I have done head-to-head comparisons, and the tin-lined is far and away more responsive, especially when I make sauces and need the pan to cool down as soon as I remove it from the flame. I don't like the hassle of periodic retinning, but I found a place that does a great job, so I wait until 2 or 3 pans need it and I take them all in. Both my cooktops are gas--one is a huge commercial range that surprised me because it turns out that it has a superb simmer capability on all six burners. I did not think that would be the case, so I also installed a 4-burner Dacor range top, specifically for the simmer function. I rarely use both at once, except around the holidays, but then I am very thankful to be able to accommodate so many cooks in the kitchen!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 12:00PM
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anyone with the copperclad versions of All Clad how are they to keep the copper clean?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 12:57PM
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I do have a gas stove, a "pro"-style one, so i think i might get better results w/tri-ply, according to what you all are saying here. I'm still confused about what to get in terms of what brand--the ones i like are so $$$!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 6:43PM
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I think the best deal on tri-ply (if you count a hard anodized exterior as a ply) is Kitchenaid Hi-Density Hard Anodized. It won't go in the dishwasher, you have to hand wash it, but it'll match or exceed the perforance of any other aluminum tri-ply out there. You can get a very well chosen 9 piece set for less than $350. Look here:

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 9:02PM
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deanb, i'm not a huge fan of hard anodized exterior... it seems heavier to me, and i thought it had a tendency to warp--is that right? And isn't the ss exterior easier to clean (even if handwashing)? I'm thinking i might try one of the Gourmet Standard pots, just to see how i like it. It's the only affordable line i can find that seems to do what i'm looking for, and b/c King Arthur Flour carries it, i hope it would be good quality, but who knows...

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 7:11PM
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The Gourmet Standard line looks to me like Cuisanart.
I am comparing pans from the All Clad lines to others. so far then type startcooking in the search line takes you to their line of cookware. These are clearly knock offs of the All clad line but are lighter in total weight, but also less than half the cost and lifetime warranteed by JCPenny, just bring it in and get a new one or a refund. Then of course there is the All Clad outlet place which saves you about 30% off list for blemished All Clad with full functional warrantee.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 1:18PM
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mccall, i just looked at the all-clad outlet place, and they're having a 20% off sale right now, wh/would end up saving me nearly 50% on the pieces i'm looking for, so i may take the plunge. I did some review-searching and found that people say the seconds only have a tiny scratch somewhere or other, and the site still gives a full mfr warranty, plus if you don't like the condition you can return it. I may just go for a 3-qt. saucier. Also considering a 12" skillet and a 2-qt saucepan. I have a 12" chef pan, but no long-handled skillet that size.

My only concern is that these pans don't have a pouring lip/edge, and i know that i'd end up pouring w/the saucier. Does anyone find that to be an issue w/AC, or is pouring okay?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 8:12PM
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I just went to the all clad outlet site that I know of and there is nothing there about a 20% off sale, what link and site did you go to?

None of my current pans have lips and it has never been a problem pouring, my biggest problem is lifting the pans with my severe arthritis, but actual pouring has been ok. they are not currently All Clad though I have various pans mostly disk bottom varieties from my former electric smoothtop range use.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 9:09AM
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mccall, it's I've seen good reviews of the site on some foodie forums.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 9:47AM
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Most A-C copper core pans do have the pouring lip. I tend to reach for the pans with the lip, if I have the choice, as I do find they help, especially where sauce is involved. (I have not used the copper core A-C, but other brands I have do have pouring lips and my A-C stainless steel does not.)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 10:43AM
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Can't believe it, I went to the website with the extra 20% off and I priced out All clad Copper Chef with the all copper outsides. and the same pans in Copper core, and the 3 pans I priced were $399.84 for the all copper exterior and $437.92 for the copper core. Now I would have thought the copper exterior would have been the most expensive.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 1:30PM
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"Now I would have thought the copper exterior would have been the most expensive."

OK, I'll bite. Why would you think that?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 7:53PM
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I suppose because the other brands of Copper cookware are SOOOO expensive.
I guess the Copper core is more expensive because it actually have two additional metal layers. it has the copper layer betwwen aluminum layers then the stainless interior and exterior layers, where as the Copper chef models are aluminum core stainless interior and copper exterior.
Anyway, as much as I like the copper I think I will order the copper core. Just hope I can lift them.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:21PM
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The copper on the Copper Chef is just a thin cosmetic layer. It's not like a Falk Culinair copper pan.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 5:08PM
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Solarpowered mentioned that the problem with disc bottom pans on gas ranges is that a gas burner can burn food on the sides of pans. This isn't a problem with boiling things in water and water-based soups, is it? I need a good pan for boiling. The one I'm looking at is disc bottom, but we have a gas range.

Speaking of boiling, everybody says that the type of pan doesn't matter for boiling. But which type heats the water up faster? I once read that heavy aluminum hammered pots were best for boiling because the fast heating aluminum has more surface contact with the water. Do the pans that are clad all the way up the sides heat water up faster than disc bottom? If yes, then does it make that much difference?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:23PM
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Having moved from 18 years of all-electric coil cooking to gas a year and a half ago, I have an observation on disk versus ply that is different from others.

Most of my pans are All-Clad stainless, as I also have an induction top so I want most of my pans to work on both the induction and gas. However, I have a few pieces of other stuff, some all-aluminum, and a couple of pieces of disk-bottom cookware.

In my experience, disk-bottomed cookware is great on electric, as all the heat enters the pan through the bottom. The pan's thick bottom distributed the heat well across the bottom, better than with the All-clad, which is thinner.

However, I had problems using the disk-bottomed cookware on my gas range. The gas burner sends a lot of heat up the side of the pan, which caused the area just above the disk to become much hotter than the rest of the pan, and caused things to burn. It is obviously fine for boiling water, but then plain think alumnum would work better because of increased conductivity. The tri-ply All-Clad does much better on gas, as the laminations are all-around the pot, preventing hot spots.

So, in my opinion, in general, thick disk-bottom pans are best on electric heat sources for even distribution, but ply cookware works better on gas, to prevent hot spots from forming at or near the disk-pan joint.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 9:59AM
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