I’m excited to share another addition to the Essentials Series. Bakeware is this week’s topic and I am sharing what you need to have on hand to help you succeed in baking, as well as a few of my favorite bakeware items that I can’t live without. Now before we begin, I wanted to share an old adage that I read quite some time ago in regards to choosing bakeware and cookware for that matter — “You get what you pay for”. Good quality bakeware that is well taken care of, can last a lifetime. On the contrary, poorly constructed pans and dishes made from cheap materials will warp or crack with use, and will result in poor heat conduction and unevenly baked goods. Good quality bakeware including all of my favorite baking pans (cookie sheets, bread pans and cake pans) are made from heavy-gauge aluminum or a commercial grade aluminized steel. This heavy material is known for durability, quality and promotes even browning because they absorb oven heat more efficiently than thin pans. You will notice that all of the pans I have pictured have a goldish color. They are specifically sold at my favorite kitchen store, Williams Sonoma. The brand is called “Goldtouch“. The pans have a ceramic non-stick coating that aids in releasing baked goods with ease and are also more resistant to scratches. Mine are 9 years old and still look almost new. I use a baking spray when needed as well as parchment paper on my pans for cookies. I am not a fan of the dark, non-stick coated pans because their dark surfaces cause overbrowning. I also like to use white ceramic baking dishes, they are so great for retaining heat evenly.
There aren’t too many basic pieces to have in your bakeware collection, so here are the pans I use and recommend plus a few specialty bakeware items that are fun to have.
a. Rimmed baking sheets are used for baking everything from sheet cakes to pastries. There are three standard sizes which include a half sheet pan, measuring 18 x 13 x 1. It is half the size of a commercial sheet pan and is used in a wide variety of baking. The second is a jelly roll pan which measures 15 x 10 x 1. This pan gets it’s name from the thin sponge cakes that are spread with a filling and rolled up. Last is the quarter sheet pan measuring 12 x 9 x 1, perfect for smaller portions and for use in counter top ovens.
b. Cookie Sheets are a flat metal pan designed to allow maximum heat circulation around the cookies and to make it easy to scoop them onto a cooling rack. I love using these specifically for baking cookies and I always use parchment paper on top of the pan.
2. Cake Pans
a. Round Cake Pans come in a variety of sizes. The standard size for cake pans used on basic recipes is a 9 x 2 round pan. I like to have at least 2 in each size if you are making a layered cake. There are so many sizes available in round cake pans. The sizes I have range from a cute tiny 4″ to 10″ round pans.
b. Square and rectangular pans are great to have in your kitchen. A standard square pan is 8 x 8 x 2 which is used for brownies, bar cookies and cakes. A rectangular pan typically measures 9 x 13 x 2. They are used for cakes, bar cookies, bread rolls, corn breads and coffee cakes.
c. Cake decorating stand is such a useful piece to own if you are or want to become an avid cake decorator. Professional bakers use these stands to ensure precision when frosting, filling or piping cakes. When you set your cake on the stand, you can frost and turn your cake at the same time. Many bakers have agreed that their cake decorating skills have improved drastically since using a cake stand.
d. Springform Pans are perfect for making cheesecakes, mousse cakes and pound cakes. They have sides that are secured by a clamp when closed and forms a tight seal with the bottom. When the clamp is released, the sides expand and lift off, making the cake easy to remove. The standard size is 9″.
e. Bundt pans are usually made of a heavy cast aluminum, with or without a non-stick coating. They come in a wide variety of fun styles. I love making bundt cakes when I want to display a beautiful but simple cake.
f. Tube pan is really an angel food cake pan. If you’ve never made home made angel food cake, you must! You’ll never eat store-bought angel food cake again. The pan has an uncoated surface which helps an airy cake rise. It also has a removable bottom to unmold the cake and small “feet” that extend above the rim, which allows you to turn the pan upside down and stand it on the counter. This helps during cooling so no moisture is trapped.
3. Cupcake/Muffin Pans
a. Standard muffin pan The standard cupcake or muffin pan holds 12 cups and each cup holds about 3 oz of batter. I recommend having at least two on hand.
b. Mini muffin pan Have I mentioned that I love mini food? I just really do. Nothing beats a great mini food display. Mini cupcake or muffin pans have 24 cups.
4. Bread/Loaf Pans
a. Loaf Pans should measure around 8.5 x 4.5 x 2 .75. A loaf pan holds 1 lb loaf of bread and is mostly used for baking breads that are sweet or savory but can also be used for pound cakes or meat loaves. When I bake homemade sandwich bread, I make a large batch so I like to have 4 loaf pans. I also have pictured the adorable mini loaf pans perfect for gifting breads.
b. French Bread Loaf Pan Ok, if you love baking home made breads you must have this pan. It is a perforated, non-stick pan specifically used for baguettes and country breads. The pan helps you attain that perfect golden brown crust. Whenever I make french bread for dinner guests, I always look like a bread making rock star because the loaves are so beautiful and look like they came from a french bakery. I love this pan!
5. Cooling Racks I’m sure everyone knows what a cooling rack is used for but just in case… these wire cooling racks have feet, which raise the rack above the counter, allowing air to circulate and prevent moisture from being trapped under the baked goods. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes but let me tell you why I love this one. For quite some time I used the racks that had just the straight wires. I felt like most of the time my cookies would often slip through the wires because they were a bit too wide. I was so happy to discover this rack that has a grid to ensure that nothing will fall through. If you bake in large quantities, I would recommend that you have at least 3 or 4 of these.
6. Pie/Tart Pans
a. Pie Pans A standard pie pan is typically 9″ round and is available in a wide variety of materials such as glass, ceramic and metal. Glass pans are great for checking to see if the bottom crust has browned. Metal pans absorb heat well and are great for helping your pie turn golden brown and crisp. My favorite is the ceramic pie pan. I absolutely love these for a few reasons. The first being that they make for a beautiful presentation, the ruffled edge is quite lovely. They also retain heat very well, which helps the pie cook evenly and my pie crusts have always browned to perfection with these ceramic pans. Pie pans are also available in a deep dish, where the sides are deeper and wider than the standard 9″. They can hold up to twice as much filling and are best for deep dish fruit pies, as well as for crisps and cobblers.
b. Tart pans are made of metal and have shallow, fluted sides with a removable bottom, which makes it easy to unmold the tart. They come in a variety of sizes for making specialty tarts. I also love using the mini tartlet pans for individual servings.
7. Specialty bakeware/pans
a. Souffle dish Made specifically for sweet and savory souffles. They are designed with tall sides so that the airy souffles can rise straight and high.
b. Ramekins These small, round porcelain baking dishes are used for individual servings of souffles, mousse, puddings, cakes and a variety of dishes.
c. Popover pan This pan resembles a muffin pan, but is used for baking an egg based popover batter. The pan is designed with metal strips connecting the cups which promotes puffing. Popovers are light and airy and are a great alternative to serving the standard roll.
d. Donut/Mini-Donut Pans You know you need a donut pan! Donuts always seemed so difficult to make. The cutting of the dough and frying just never appealed to me. I was so happy to discover using a donut pan where the donuts are baked and not fried. The standard size donut pan holds 6. The mini donut pan just makes the cutest little mini donuts but be careful, before you know it you’ve eaten… well let’s just say a lot. The mini donut pan I have is no longer available but there is a similar one here.
So there you have it, 21 bakeware recommendations to satisfy your baking needs. Please note that all of these recommendations are my opinions and ones that I personally use. I am not being paid for recommending any of these products.
Information slightly adapted by the Williams Sonoma cookbook ‘Tools and Techniques”
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments. Stay tuned next week for the last in the baking series, the baking ingredients.