Bakeware Buying Guide

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Baking, believe it or not is a science. Actually, more specifically it's chemistry, and if you are anything like the majority of the world, chemistry is not the easiest of sciences. When trying to bake (without a boxed mix) it can sometimes turn into a mess in the kitchen, and it's just cruel that recipes don't give us more help. We as bakers need answers. We need answers for questions like, what is the advantage of silicone over metal pans? Why do I need to sift the flower? And what is a jelly roll pan used for anyway?

Well here are the answers to all those pressing questions and some tips to make your next baking experience just a little bit easier.

Bakeware Materials

Although you may feel that certain things don't matter when it comes to baking, that's not the truth. Every ingredient and step in the baking process is important, even the type of pan you put your culinary confection in. Fortunately for us, product developers have been making professional bakeware available to the masses. Here are some materials you should know about before purchasing pans:

What's the Difference?

Ceramic

Ceramic dishware is usually not used for baking cakes. Instead many people use it for crème brûlée, soufflés and other recipes which require a crust.

  • It has a high tolerance for heat and cold. It can withstand blow torches and the freezer. Be sure to read the instructions before putting a frozen dish in the oven.
  • Its thick surface makes warm moist meals. Due to the thickness of the dish, it is perfect for melding flavours together while forming a light fluffy crust over the top. Delicious!
  • It is the one dish for everything. Ceramic's glossy finish is attractive so bake and serve. No more piles of dishes!
  • It is naturally non-stick. Any dish that is resistant to sticky messes is our best friend.

Glass

Glass dishes are difficult to find, but are a good choice for certain types of baking. Things you should know are:

  • Do not put glass under cold water immediately after heating it! The glass could crack or shatter. Tempered baking glass is supposed to withstand certain pressures, but its just a good idea to let it cool on its own.
  • Glass heats up faster than metal, and it stays hot longer make sure you check on your baked goods often so you can take it out before it is too late!
  • Be sure to check the washing instructions, but most glass dishes are able to be washed in a washing machine. Easy clean up makes for a happy baker!

Metal

Metal baking pans come in all shapes and sizes, but the things you need to know are:

  • They come coated or non-coated
    • A non-coated pan (lighter in colour) will make it more difficult to remove the cake. Make sure to grease it well.
    • A coated pan (darker in colour) is usually non-stick, but may take longer to bake your cake. Be sure to follow the recipe and watch the cake carefully.
  • Novelty pans are usually not coated, but they are fun to bake with. They MUST be greased well, or the cake will not come out of the mould!

Silicone

Silicon is the next frontier for the bakers in the world. This substance when moulded into different shapes is very easy to use and care for.

  • It is naturally non-stick, and because of its flexibility there are no more worries about getting your cake out of the pan.
  • It is tolerable to both high and low heats. Don't worry if you need to put your cake in the fridge to frost it the next day!
  • It is resistant to grease and dirt, so clean up is a breeze.
  • Even if it does get dirty its dishwasher safe.

As I said, its the substance of the new frontier, or just MAGIC!


Preparing Your Pans

Besides getting the right ingredients for your recipe, it is also important to make sure you have the correct pan. Many of the pans below can be found in several of the materials already mentioned. There are several ways to prepare your pan before pouring in the batter. Here are some tips:

  • Prepare your baking pans first.
    • It is important to prepare your pan prior to mixing your batter in order to obtain the best results. The more time the batter spends sitting around the harder it will be after baking.
  • There are a few products which can be used to prepare baking pans.
    • Butter: has a great taste, and is easy to find around the house. Make sure it is room temperature prior to greasing the pan with a piece of wax paper or pastry brush. (May make the cake darker if cooked too long)
    • Clarified Butter: has no taste and does not burn easily. If you miss the timer by a minute or two, you will still be fine.
    • Vegetable oil pan spray: easy to apply this spray is the cook's best friend. However, do not use on non-stick surfaces. It is great for those non-fat recipes.
    • Shortening: the baker's best friend shortening is the most popular greasing agent. It leaves no taste and doesn't burn. Apply with a paper towel if you want to stay clean, but with your hands it's just fun.
    • Professional/Baker's grease: found in cake supply stores this concoction already has flour mixed in. Make sure to keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
    • Bread crumbs: are suggested when greasing a Bundt pan. After greasing all the sides well, cover all the surfaces with finely ground bread crumbs. After baking flip the pan over, and out pops the cake.
    • Flour/cocoa powder: many recipes ask that the pan be greased and floured. For vanilla cakes use flour, or extra batter on the surfaces after greasing. For chocolate cakes use cocoa powder to preserve the chocolatey flavour.
  • Here are some professional techniques you might want to try:
    • After greasing the pan for the first time, cut a piece of parchment paper in the shape of the pan. (You can trace the pan onto the paper and then cut.) Place the piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and re-grease the pan. This will ensure that the cake comes out easily.

What NOT to do...

  • Do not:grease your silicone pans
  • Do not:grease pans for angel food or sponge cake UNLESS otherwise specified
  • Do not:grease cookie pans UNLESS you want your cookies to be very wide and thin

Baking Pans

Pans

Jelly Roll Pans 

Possibly the largest pan, jelly roll pans are used to create thin layers of jelly or sponge cake to be rolled. They are characterized by how shallow they are. One famous confection is the Yule Log, which uses this pan in its recipe.

Baking Sheets 

Flat like the jelly roll pan, a baking sheet usually does not have sides. They are found in dark and light metals. Remember, the darker the pan the faster your confection will cook.

Muffin Pans 

Muffin pans come in three sizes, jumbo, standard and mini cups. They also come in six muffins, or twelve muffins per pan for jumbo and standard or twenty-four for mini-cup pans. To create evenly cooked muffins make sure to put even amounts of batter in each cup.

Tart Pans 

Tart pans are round pans also characterized by their shallowness as well as the indented border to create a unique shape to the tart shell. Beware: these pans are not deep enough to bake pies in!

Pie Pans 

Pie pans can come in several different materials and shapes. Usually pie pans are metal but can be ceramic. Ceramic pans can take longer to cook, but they come in more unique cut-outs to help form the top crust.


Square Cake Pans 

Square or rectangular cake pans are the most common cake pans available. They also come in a variety of depths.

Round Cake Pans 

Are used for the traditional two layer birthday cake. There are several diameters available, check your recipe for instructions.

Springform Pans 

The springform pan is most often used while baking a cheese cake. The latch allows the baker to remove the sides of the pan while maintaining the shape of the cake.

Loaf Pans 

Loaf pans are primarily used for baking a loaf. Bread and pound cake are the two most common baked goods made.

Bundt® Cake Pans 

The Bundt cake is certainly a strange shaped cake. The hole in the centre was created in order to allow the cake to bake fully without burning. These cakes are not frosted, but usually have a glaze dripped over them.


Specialized Bakeware

These specialized baking products have been designed for specific uses and really they just make our lives easier.

Madeleine Pans 

The Madeleine pans are used to make fluffy French cakes. These pans can be found in both metal and silicone forms. The advantage is with silicone which can be bent to pop the cakes out to prevent breakage of the Madeleine.

Yorkshire Pudding Pans 

These heavy duty pans are usually non-stick. They usually have four places for individual sized Yorkshire puddings. Make sure to read the instructions of your recipe for directions on how to prepare the pan.

Ramekins 

This dish is often associated with Crème brûlée, but can be used for various dishes including; molten chocolate cakes, cheese dishes and soufflé. They are sturdy dishes which can withstand high temperatures, including a crème brûlée torch.

Custard Cups 

These porcelain or glass cups are primarily used for the making of small individual sized custard dishes. However, many people find that they are convenient for preparing food for cooking, or small servings of ice cream or berries.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Pans 

As the name suggests, this pan is only used for pineapple upside-down cakes. Using one of these pans will help your baking process by evenly distributing the pineapples and cherries on your culinary creation.


Must haves in the kitchen!

Mixing Bowls 

Mixing bowls are convenient in many different ways. They are made in a variety of different materials including; metal, plastic and glass. They can not only be used to mi your batter, but also to store large quantities of food in the refrigerator.

Rolling Pins 

The rolling pin is essential to the creation of certain cookies and pie crusts. Some tips to keep it from sticking to your dough are:

  • Pat it and the dough with flour
  • Freeze the rolling pin for a few minutes (it really works)

Pastry Scrapers 

While many people use these sharp utensils to chop and/or clean cutting boards, the real use is for moving and handling pastry dough. This dough is quite delicate and can be ruined with too much handeling.

Pastry Blenders 

Pastry blenders are most often used to to blend together pie crusts. It helps to transform the crust from a heavy dough to a light, fluffy and crispy perfection.


Pastry Bags 

These bags are designed to be filled with frosting when icing a cake. Choose different shaped frosting tips to make unique designs on your cake. Or, if you want to get really creative at a dinner party, put room temperature butter in and create fancy individual butter pats. (Make sure to place the butter in the refrigerator for awhile before serving!)

Pastry Brushes 

When you want to make crisp fluffy crusts, it is important to brush your pastries with an egg wash. These pastry brushes are specially designed to help you complete the task, easily and efficiently.

Cooling Racks 

Often times we don't think we need a cooling rack. After all what is wrong with putting our confections straight on the counter? Well, for one your confection can end up sticking to your counter, and two a cooling rack helps to get air evenly distributed around the cake or cookie. This speeds up the cooling process!

Frosting Tips 

These specially shaped tips for pastry bags allows for easy, even distribution of frosting on our confections. Whether you want straight lines, bows, or dots, these tips can do it all. If you aren't familiar with frosting a cake, experiment. It is just as fun to eat an imperfect cake as a perfect one.


Accessories You will Need

Accessories

Crème Brûlée Torches 

Crème Brûlée torches are small and produce a steady flame to help ease the process of caramelizing the top of your crème brûlée.

Cookie Cutters 

These sharp metal shapes (copper or steel) are essential for the cookie enthusiast. The come in every shape and size, and there are themes for every holiday!

Cake Lifter 

If you are afraid of dropping a heavy cake, you are not alone. Cake lifters are the answer, these sturdy lifters help support heavy cakes when coming out of the oven.

Silicone Pans 

While regular pans are now being made out of silicone, try these neat designs to see what creative cakes you can make!

Food Colouring 

What is more important than getting vibrant colours when frosting your cakes and cookies? Probably nothing. The more colouring you use, the brighter your frosting will be!


Related Guides you need to read!

Sifters

Sifters are used to aerate dry goods to make fluffy light recipes. No matter what model you get, it will be a work out. Here are some things you should know about sifters.

Kitchen Mixers

Hand-held and counter top models of kitchen mixers have their advantages and disadvantages. Unsure of what you are looking for? Check here to get the information you need!

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Measuring cups and spoons are possibly the most used utensil in the kitchen. Cooking is a science, therefore use measuring utensils to get your recipes just right. Here's a guide to help you.

Spatulas

From scraping out your batter to mixing stir fry these kitchen essentials all have their own unique jobs. Be sure to check out this guide for information on an individual spatula.

Whisks

Like sifters, whisks are used to aerate liquids such as mousse, scrambled eggs or whipped cream. There are several kinds to choose from, all of which are described in this guide.