Types of Pans Available for Baking
Recipes call for a variety of bakeware. Although you don't need many, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the variety and sizes of pans available. Bakeware come in various sizes, shapes and finishes. This article describes the most common bakeware.
Most recipes call for the bakeware to be lightly or generously greased to prevent sticking. The insides of pans should be coated with cooking spray, Pan Release or with solid vegetable shortening that can be dusted with flour. A pastry brush is used to spread the Pan Release or shortening evenly, making sure that all the inside surfaces are well covered and no longer shiny. Bakeware also come in nonstick. Just remember that when using a nonstick pan, you will need to adjust the baking temperature and time since the nonstick finish will affect both.
Baking pans (dish)
This is a flat pan with straight sides that is 3/4-inch or taller, which is used for baking food in the oven such a cake, lasagna, or a casserole. There are many sizes and depths available, but the most common size is the 13 x 9 x 2-inch. The next most popular size is the 11 x 7 x 2-inch. Other common sizes include: the 8 x 8 inch square pan or rectangular pans that are 15 x 10 x 1-inch (jelly-roll), and 18 x 13-inches by 1 or 2 inches in depth (1/2 sheet pan). Baking pans are commonly used to hold runny batters, such as cake batter and thick solid masses of food, such as savory hot dish recipes. The foods are placed in the pan and the baked in the oven. Baking pans are also available in a variety of materials (metal, glass and ceramic), surface textures, and colors.
Baking (cookie) sheets
Baking sheets come in two types, with four sides or with only a lip on one side. The baking sheets without sides are designed for foods that are thick or stiff enough to stand on their own, such as cookies, freestanding breads, biscuits, pastries, and meringues. Baking sheets with just a lip allow you to just slide the cookies off onto the cooling rack or sliding under a cooled cake to invert it onto a cake plate.
It is best to have at least 2 baking sheets, especially when baking cookies so that you can always have a batch of cookies ready to go into the oven when the previous batch is done. Choose heavy, shiny aluminum baking sheets. Avoid dark baking sheets -- they tend to burn cookies faster.
Baking sheets with sides can be used for multiple purposes, such as to place it under juicy pies as they bake so that it catches the juice so juice doesn't drip into the oven.
Thin baking sheets will warp in the oven, so make sure that you purchase sturdy pans that will last.
It is best to have baking sheets that are a shiny aluminium. These can be lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats making for easy cleanup. If you choose to have baking sheets with nonstick coating, they may cause your cookies to brown too quickly. You may need to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to prevent this from happening. You also can buy insulated baking sheets -- they're a little pricey, but they keep your cookie bottoms from getting too brown. You may find that you need to increase your baking time by a few minutes if you use insulated sheets.
You can create your own insulated baking sheets instead of spending extra money to buy them. If your cookies are burning on the bottom but raw on top, stack two baking sheets together (one on top of the other) and continue baking as usual. This should prevent further burning.
Baking (muffin) tins
Muffin pans (tins) are pans that have little cups or cavities -- usually 6 or 12 cups per pan -- pressed out of one sheet of metal. They're used for making muffins, cupcakes, rolls or for baking small cakes and tarts. Like other baking pans, the best muffin pans are sturdy, made of heavy aluminum and may have a nonstick coating.
Batter is poured or crusts are pressed into the individual cavities then a filling poured over the crust. The item is then baked in the shape of the cup. The tins are commonly available in 3 sizes ranging from those that bake a small or miniature muffin that is 1 to 2-inch in diameter, standard muffins that are 2 3/4-inch and large muffins approximately 4-inch in diameter. Individual muffin cups made from silicone are also available for baking individual cupcakes and muffins. Often a paper liner or baking cup made of either paper or foil is placed in the cup before filling with batter. This allows for the item to be easily handled and removed. Also, it makes it easier to clean the pan.
Bundt and Tube pans
Bundt and tube pans allow you to make a beautiful, tall cake without the worry of layers. The tube or funnel, bakes the cake from the inside out. Bundt pans almost always have some sort of cut-crystal (scalloped) design molded in the pan and have tall sides with a hollow tube in the center.
A tube pan, or angel food cake pan, has a tube (funnel) in the center, too, but the sides of this pan are smooth, which allows the batter to climb up the walls of the pan as it bakes. Tube pans generally come with two pieces. A bottom with the tube attached, and sides that contain feet. These feet or little metal nubs that stick out above the rim of the pan, allow the pan to be flipped over while it cools without disturbing the cake inside. If your tube pan doesn't have feet, chances are the tube center is higher than the sides of the pan, which will give you the same clearance that feet would. Angel food and chiffon cakes need to be cooled upside down so that they don't collapse in the pan as they cool.
Many recipes call for pans that will hold a certain amount of batter. If you don't know how many cups of batter your Bundt or tube pan hold, fill the pan to capacity with measured water to find out the volume.
Cake pans come in many sizes. The most common are 8 and 9-inch round. When you're buying a cake pan, make sure to get one that's at least 1 1/2 inches deep. You'll need two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans for making a layer cake. Heavy aluminum pans, with or without a nonstick coating, and with straight sides are best. Be sure your pans are sturdy; you don't want them to warp and produce an uneven cake. These pans come in various shapes such as round, square, rectangular, star, heart, petal, oval, and octagon. Each of these also come in various sizes. These pans can be used for wedding cakes which require various sizes for stacking. Round cake pans are also available in various heights, such as 1 1/2-inch, 2-inch and 3-inch.
For a layer cake for the family I prefer an 8-inch round cake pan that is 3-inches deep. This pan holds one batch of batter or one prepared boxed cake mix. Then just use a cake leveler to slice the baked cake into 2 or 3 layers. This way you only have to deal with one dome on the cake (the top of the cake). The only downside to using a 3-inch pan instead of two pans is that it takes longer to bake (usually one hour). I also recommend buying cakes pans that are 2-inches deep. You still can bake a 1/2-inch deep cake, but if you buy a 1/2-inch deep pan, you will not be able to bake a 2-inch deep cake.
Loaf pans come in two standard sizes 9 x 5 x 2-inch and 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches. Either size is fine for most bread recipes. You can find loaf pans made of glass, shiny metal, and nonstick aluminum. Glass pans and dark, nonstick pans have a tendency to brown your breads faster than shiny metal, so you may have to lower the oven temperature by 25°F.
Always have two loaf pans for bread-baking, because most recipes make two loaves of bread, and you'll need both pans to put the bread in to rise. If the recipe calls for 2 loaves, both need to be made at the same time because of the leavening (either yeast or baking soda or baking powder). Not only do they need to rise at the same time, they need to be baked at the same time. The leavening will become active when the wet ingredients are mixed together, and if the batter sits too long, the leavening may become inactive.
Some recipes may call for 7 x 3-inch pans. Recipes using these pans sometimes require three pans. There are also mini loaf pans. Both of these size pans are normally used when breads are baked for gifts.
Loaf pans are not only used to bake breads, they are also used to bake meat loaf and loaf cakes.
Pie plates (pans or tins)
A pie plate is a round baking dish with shallow slanted sides that are generally 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. The pie plate is available in several sizes. The most common sizes are 8-inch , 9-inch and 10-inch in diameter. Pie plates are used for baking single crust and double crust pies. They are also available in a deep dish variety that has slanted sides that are 2 to 2 1/2-inch deep and range from 9 to 11 inches in diameter. They can be found made from many different materials, such as aluminum, glass, stoneware, ceramic, and tinned steel.
- Glass: A glass pie plate is often the best choice for pies that bake for 30 to 50 minutes. The glass radiates and conducts heat at the same time so it cooks the crust quickly. If you have only glass pie plates and you need to cook a pie for more than an hour, lower the oven temperature by 25°F so that the crust won't burn in the pan.
- Aluminum: A thick aluminum pie plate gives you a more evenly baked
crust than a thin plate does. Dull metal or dark pans also absorb heat faster and cook faster than shiny pans. Be sure to adjust the cooking
time and temperature accordingly.
A shiny pie plate reflects heat, so your pie will end up with a soggy bottom crust if you bake your pie for less than an hour. Prebaking the crust will help prevent a soggy bottom crust.
- Ceramic: Ceramic pie plates are less popular, but they are available. They behave like thick aluminum pie plates, baking crusts evenly and slowly. They're a good choice for quiche and double-crust pies that require a longer cooking time.
Springform pans consist of two pieces, a side and bottom. They allow the dish to bake, but then you can remove the sides of the pan (there is a latch on the side) without having to invert it, and you're left with a lovely dish read to be cut and served. They're the perfect pans for making cheesecakes and tortes. The most common size is the 10-inch. Other common sizes are 8-inch and 9-inch. Finding sets of springform pans sold in these three sizes is common.
In time, the latch of the pan will weaken from use. To make sure that your springform doesn't leak, wrap it in aluminum foil or place it on a baking sheet when you place it 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.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of pans available with different grades of material. Keep in mind that if you initially buy a heavy-duty higher grade pan, it will last you a life-time.