Photo by rocketqueen BAKING PANS Like other pots and pans, baking pans are made from a wide variety of materials, steel, aluminum, cast iron, non stick coated aluminum, silicone. In baking pans, you need somewhat different properties in the metal than you do in pots and pans. Since the oven cooks by indirect heat, you don't have to worry about a tin lining melting or the enamel on an enameled iron baking pan cracking from a hot spot, and unlike on the stove, glass works very well in the oven.
For most baking pans, the heavier and more solid the better. There are a few exceptions to this, some of the more delicate pastries bake better on a light weight baking; pan that heats and cools quickly. I don't generally like non-stick coatings on baking pans, especially cookie sheets and bread pans, if you put oil on them, you can end up with a sticky residue that won't come off, and the dark surface often leads to overbrowning. If you use non-stick baking pans you may need to lower the oven temperature by 25º, same with Pyrex. I have a set of Hoffritz non-stick baking pans, again, a gift. It's nice, good and heavy, but the dark surface sometimes causes overbrowning, and I have to watch cookies very carefully.
I still prefer the shiny aluminum baking pans for most uses and steel is fine for specialty pans like tartlets. I have a set of silicone baking pans, don't use them much, they produce a pale, crisp crust, not the golden brown one I like and I'm just a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of baking in flexible pans. Try them, you might like them.
BAKING PAN BASICS Baking Sheets You need at least two, preferably a couple of each. Price and quality varies widely, from about $5 at Wal Mart to $70 the top of the line All Clad. I suggest somewhere in the middle, Baking sheets need to be heavy enough not to warp in the heat of the oven, non-stick or shiny aluminum, as you prefer. If you bake a lot of cookies, you'll want pans without rims all the way around. One note, before your buy baking sheets, measure your oven, be sure you will have 2 inches of space all around the sheet for air circulation, given this measurement, buy the biggest ones you can. Photo by Serving English I found these Vollrath sheets on Amazon, 17x14, rims on the ends only, heavy duty aluminum,Vollrath Co. Cookie Sheet 17x14-in. they remind me of the ones I bought 30 years ago and are still going strong. AT $23 each they are a bit expensive, but for this professional quality, well worth it. If the Vollrath is too pricey or you don't bake enough to justify the cost, these baking sheets from Chicago Metallic might be a good alternative a 14x16 sheet with rims on the ends only at $13 Chicago Metallic Commercial 14-by-16-Inch Cookie Sheet If you bake a lot of cookies and have a big oven, the Farberware 15-1/2-by-20-Inch Jumbo Cookie Sheet might be just what you need. Insulated steel with non stick surface, one rolled edge extra large for a lot of cookies for $21 but it should last a lifetime.
Baking Sheet Hints and Tips
Shiny heavy aluminum pans produce the most evenly browned cookies.
If you have dark baking sheets, line them with foil to eliminate overbrowning.
Insulated baking sheets work great for soft cookies, but cookies won't get crisp and they may have to be baked a minute or two longer.
When baking more than one sheet at a time, rotate sheets top to bottom and front to back half way through the baking time.
Don't grease baking sheets for cookies unless the recipe says to. Too much grease can cause the cookies to spread too much.
Use Parchment Paper to line your baking sheets instead of greasing them. Cookies will peel right off and you have less mess to clean up.
Jelly Roll Pans You need at least two, not just for jelly rolls, you will fine a myriad of uses for these. Standard are 18x13 with a rim about 1 inch high all around. These will work for cookies, but it's a lot easier to get cookies off a sheet without the rims, and they bake more evenly. or you can turn this pan upside down and bake on the bottom of it. This pan is made for jelly rolls and sheet cakes, I use mine for everything from roasting vegetables to putting under a casserole to catch drips to tray freezing fruits and vegetables. Again, heavy, aluminum, steel or non-stick. For the aluminum ones, take a look at the Chicago Metallic, 18 x13 Jelly Roll Pans heavy aluminized steel, dishwasher safe, at 2 for $25, a good buy. Chicago Metallic Commercial Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans, Set of 2
You need at least one 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan for brownies, cornbread, pan cakes, and again Chicago Metallic looks like a good bet, 9x9 aluminized steel, non stick $16.Chicago Metallic 9x9 Pan if you don't think you'll use it much, look at the Bakers Secret pan about 8x8, non stick for $6 Baker's Secret Basics Nonstick Square Cake Pan This size baking pan should work in most toaster ovens.
You need at least two 9x5 loaf pans for breads again, I like the Chicago Metallic. Nice weight, well made, shiny aluminumized steel with no non stick coating, dishwasher safe and at $12 each, affordable.Chicago Metallic Commercial Bread Pan These remind me of my bread baking pans that have been going strong for about 35 years.
I just found a pan on Amazon I've been looking for for years, it's a two piece meat loaf pan, A regular 9x5 loaf pan with an insert that has holes in the bottom for the grease to drain out. I've been removing the grease from my meatloafs with a bulb baster, this pan solves that problem. and you can use the bottom pan as a regular 9x5 non stick, unfortunately made in Taiwan, but at $12 I'll buy this one Norpro 2 Piece Nonstick Meatloaf Bread Pan Set .
I know a lot of the Chicago Metallic pans I'm recommending are expensive, you can get baking pans that will do the same or supposedly the same job for a lot less, but, if you're going to bake, especially if you're going to bake a lot, treat yourself to some good pans, they'll last forever and you won't regret. If you have Pyrex in these sizes, you probably don't really need more, it will do just about anything you need.
For bar cookies make sure you use the size pan the recipe calls for, a different size pan will alter baking time and the texture of the finished cookies.
Line the pan for bar cookies with foil, leaving a several inch overhang, after the cookies are baked you can just lift them out of the pan by the foil overhang.
Try using parchment paper on your baking sheets, no sticking. easy cleanup.
Layer Cake Pans Round pans available from 2 in. to 24 in. Unless you bake a lot of fancy cakes 3 9 inch and 3 8 inch round baking pans should take care of your needs. Chicago Metallic Professional Pans are heavy, non stick and dishwasher safe for $10.50 each in the 8 inch size, $12 for the 9 inch.Chicago Metallic Commercial Round Cake Pan If you don't bake many cakes the Bakers Secret baking pans may be for you, Electro-tin plated steel, non stick coating, dishwasher safe for $4.50 for the 8 inch size and $7 for 9 inch.Baker's Secret Basics Nonstick 8-Inch Round Cake Pan I've never used the Bakers Secret Cake pans but I do have a couple of their pie pans as extras and they work just fine.
Cake Pan Hints and Tip
Shiny baking pans produce more tender crusts.
Grease the pans and turn on the oven before you start to mix the batter.
Grease pans for layer cakes generously, about a tablespoon of butter or shortening per pan.
Don't grease pans for angel food, chiffon, or sponge cakes. The batter needs to cling to the sides of the pan as it rises.
You can substitute 8x8 square or 8x4 loaf baking pans for round cake pans but watch your baking time, it may change.
Pie Pans Round baking pans 8 or 9 in across, standard, about 1-1/2 in high or deep dish, about 2 in high. You need two or more depending on how many pies you bake. My first choice if I were going to replace the ones I have would be the Chicago Metallic Perforated Pie Pans, 9 in diameter, aluminized steel, perforated bottom for crisp crust at $8.50 for 2 the price is certainly right.Chicago Metallic Commercial Perforated Pie Pans, Set 2
I have Pyrex pie pans but I rarely use them for pies. They are great in the microwave for hamburger, vegetables. I like to make pie crust in big batches, maybe 6 pies, form the crusts in my aluminum pie pans and freeze them. Then when I want to bake a pie, half the work is done. If you want to do this, obviously you'll need more pie pans, the shells can't be removed from the pan once they are frozen, they'll break.
I also have the Le Creuset Enameled Iron Tarte Tatin, a beautiful pan, cooks beautifully, you can serve in it, but at around $100 certainly a luxury. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Cherry Red Tarte Tatin Dish 9.75-in. Le Creuset also makes a lovely stoneware pie dish 10 inch, 2 qt size in stoneware with an enamel finish, dishwasher safe and oven safe to 500º, pretty enough to serve in and a lot more affordble than the Tarte Tatin at about $30.Le Creuset Stoneware Pie Dish
Pie Pan Tips and Hints
Glass or dark baking pans produce golden crisp crust, shiny baking pans produce a paler crust.
If you’re using glass pans reduce oven heat by 25Âº
Don’t grease pie pans unless the recipe says to.
Muffin Tins Standard muffin tins, 12 cups, about 13 x10, you need 2. Like other baking pans, these need to be reasonably heavy for even heat distribution. This is a good place for non-stick although I rarely bake muffins or cupcakes without paper liners. Chicago Metallic makes several nice ones. The standard professional, about 4 oz per cup, not non stick in 6, 12 or 24 muffin sizes for about $18 Chicago Metallic Commercial Muffin Pan , a Mini that holds 2 T per cup and makes 24 muffins per pan for $20 and what they call a muffin top pan, 6 wide shallow cups that bake the top only, no muffin Chicago Metallic Gourmetware Original Muffin Top Pan for $14. As with other non stick, you need to lower the oven temp by 25º and may have to shorten the cooking tine slightly. If the Chicago Professional are too expensive, there are a lot of other muffin tins on the market for less money Farberware makes one in rolled steel with a non- stick coating for $9.50 Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 12-Cup Muffin Pan and Bakers Seccret makes one for $10.Baker's Secret Basics Nonstick 12-Cup Muffin Pan
Muffin Tin Hints and Tips
If you don't want to grease muffin cups, use paper or foil liners, I almost never bake muffins without using liners, they sure save on cleanup and they're especially good if you're going to pack muffins for a lunch or picnic.
Grease muffin cups easily with non stick spray, or a paper towel or piece of plastic wrap, or a plastic sandwich bag dipped in shortening, or the papers butter and margarine are wrapped in (always save these for baking, plastic bag in the fridge).
Don’t grease muffin cups that won’t be filled, the grease will burn. Fill unused cups 1/2 full of water so the pan won't warp, and the extra humidity in the oven will make the muffins lighter and prevent over browning.
Most of these specialty pans are expensive for the amount of use they'll get. If you have a buddy who bakes too, buy different ones and trade. I don;t bake a lot of cakes anymore so I got rid of most of my cake molds just to save space. One thing I did keep besides muffin pans is Grandma's cast iron cornstick pans, They make the best cornsticks, and although they are cast iron and require a little extra care, the cornsticks are worth it. I was surprised to find out these baking pans are still made by Lodge for $14 Lodge Logic Cornstick Pan
Springform Pans You need at least one springform pan for cheesecakes and other desserts and savories. 9 inch is a good general size, Nordicware makes a nice one, leakproof, nonstick for $14. Nordic Ware Leakproof Springform Pan 9 Inch others are available in various sizes.
Be sure you use the size pan called for in the recipe, cheesecakes are a delicate balance and changing one thing can drastically alter the finished cake.
Individual Cheesecake Pan Not just a deep muffin tin, a special pan with 12 cups, 1-3/4 in across but with a difference. The pan comes with discs that fit in the bottom of each cup making it super easy to remove your baked mini-cheesecakes in one piece. Boy, will you impress your friends with these not to mention save a ton of money, those little cheesecakes cost an arm and a leg at the bakery. Chicago Metallic Commercial 12-Cup Mini Cheese Cake Pan
A Bundt pan, preferably 12 cup, Nordicware makes one of the original and best Nordic Ware Pro Cast Original Bundt Pan for $19. I've had mine for about 20 years, no problems. in various sizes and prices.& For some really unusual baking pans, check out the Wilton cake pans, these are often available in craft shops like Michaels and there are Wilton stores in some cities. Garage sales can also be a good source for these.
Tart or Quiche Pans The traditional loose-bottom tart pans, sizes range from tartlet at about 4 inches, to 12 inches, a good middle size is 9 or10 inch. Calphalon makes a very nice one, 10 inch heavy alumiumized steel, non-stick with a removable bottom for $20.Calphalon 10-Inch Round Nonstick Tart Pan You can use these for tarts, savory tarts, quiches. They are available in tinned steel, blued steel, or non-stick, be sure they have removable bottoms, it’s the only way to get a tart out of a baking pan in one piece. Brioche Mold Tinned steel brioche molds, available in sizes from 2-1/2 to 8-1/2 inches. You need these if you're going to bake brioche, they really aren't useful for much else. You could bake a quick bread or muffins in them if you greased them really well, wouldn't that be lovely. I've never used them for anything but brioche but now that I think of it, I'll try them for my banana nut muffins, Again tinned steel so hand wash and handle gently. Paderno World Cuisine Tin Brioche Molds $1.40 to $20 depending on size.
Pizza Pan Same criteria for a pizza baking pan as a bread pan, solidly made, conducts heat well, and of course, round. The best pans are usually heavy aluminum, or you can use a heavy baking sheet. For a round pan, one of the best I found is the Chicago Metallic Pizza Crisper, 14” aluminized steel perforated with 1/4 in holes to crisp the crust, Chicago Metallic Professional Nonstick Pizza Crisper at $18
Baking Stone If you want really crisp pizza you need a baking stone to replicate the even heat of a pizza oven. For hearth breads, the baking stone will give you the even heat needed for these special breads. The thicker the stone is, the better, thicker retains heat longer. Put your sheet on the oven shelf that will make the baking surface about 9 in from the oven ceiling. You create a baking chamber that’s really effective. You can bake your pizza either on the pan above, or directly on the stone. Most hearth breads are baked directly on the stone, so you need a peel to get the bread or pizza in or out of the oven. Stones are available round or rectangular. I prefer the square or rectangular stone, it's useful for other things besides pizza. This 14x16 inch one from Old Stone Oven would work very nicely Old Stone Oven 14-Inch by 16-Inch Baking Stone .
Place stone in cold oven and heat oven to 500º or temperature recipe calls for.
Don't bake high fat items like cookies on a baking stone, it will absorb the fat and cause smoking and bad odors.
Handle your baking stone gently, it's heavy, but it is ceramic and will break if dropped.
Pizza Peel A large wooden paddle with a long handle to get pizzas and bread in and out of the oven when you bake on a stone. You could also take the pizza right to the table on the peel, just be gentle with the cutter to avoid marring the wood. A light dusting of semolina or cornmeal on the peel before you put the pizza or bread on it will keep things moving easily. Norpro makes one 14x23 inches for $16.Norpro Pizza Peel and Paddle
I use a stainless steel pizza wheel. I’ve had for years, don’t think its made anymore. Since a lot of the new pizza pans have an non stick finish, I like the Pizza Wheel for Non Stick Pans from OXO, 4 inch plastic wheel, dishwasher safe for $12.Oxo Good Grips 4-Inch Pizza Wheel for Non-Stick Pans
Whatever you buy, make sure its sturdy, sharp and dishwasher safe. One warning on pizza wheels, if you get delivery pizza, make sure the pizza wheel doesn't go in the trash with the box, I lost a couple of nice ones that way. Use a pizza wheel for more than pizza, it will cut pasta, cut bar cookies, cut out gingerbread when you're making that gingerbread house at Christmas, lots of uses for this handy tool.
There are a lot of other baking pans available, from a double pan for French Bread to all kinds of specialty molds for specialty breads and cakes, take a look at a good cookware shop, you'll be amazed at the variety.
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