Springform pans are a type of bakeware that feature sides that can be removed from the base. These pans are clever contraptions that allow the dish to bake, but then you can remove the sides of the pan (there is a clasp on the side) without having to invert it. The bottom and the sides are separate pieces that are held together when the bottom of the pan is aligned with a groove that surrounds the bottom of the sides of the pan. The pan is then secured by a latch on the exterior of the wall. This tightens the side of the pan and secures the base into the groove at the base of the sides.
Springform pans are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. The most common springform pan sizes are 8-inch, 9-inch and 10-inch -- finding sets of springform pans sold in these three sizes is common. Small circular pans along with squares, rectangles, and hearts are also available. The most uncommon shape of springform pan is the star.
Springform pans come in a variety of materials including anodized aluminum, heavy-gauge steel, and glass. Optional features include a non-stick coating and a waterproof seal around the base. While the most common bottom is smooth, bottoms can also be waffled or glass.
The springform pan is commonly used to bake dishes that cannot be easily inverted for removal from the pan. Some of the most common recipes that call for springform pans are cheesecakes and tortes. The springform pan is perfect for cheesecakes that have delicate bottom layers such as a graham cracker crumb crusts that require easy removal of the sides. Springform pans, however, are also used in the preparation of pizza, quiche, and frozen desserts.
Although most cheesecakes are baked in a water bath, this does not mean that springform pans are waterproof around the base. Many springforms may be waterproof, however, as the latch loosens and the coating wears off and the waterproof feature will fade. For this reason you may want to wrap the pan in aluminum foil or place it on a baking sheet when you place the pan in the oven. The baking sheet will help catch any drips and allow you to transport your dish without any risk of the bottom falling from the cake pan.