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Recipes, Tricks for Foodies

The Clean Cook’s Guide to Bake Pans

The purpose of this piece is not to convince you to replace all of your bakeware. On the contrary, I hope that this article will help you better understand how your baking pans effect your baking and how to change so that you know how to alter and adapt regardless of what bakeware you’re using! If you want to convert recipes simply from one pan size to another, I suggest purchasing the whole baking conversion charts package, which includes conversion charts for ingredients, pans, temps, volumes, weights, and more.

THE IMPACT OF MATERIAL ON BAKING

Different baking pan materials perform differently in the oven, which may significantly alter a recipe’s baking time. Baking periods are greatly dependant on the material of the baking pan, but if you understand how each material behaves, you can change your baking temperatures and times like an expert!

ALUMINUM

Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, which means it may release the heat it collects and transmit it to what you’re baking. This is one of the reasons why aluminum bakeware is so popular. Ideally, you should purchase in high-quality aluminum pans made of a uniform, thick sheet of metal: this ensures that your baked items bake evenly in the pan. Poor quality pans are sometimes produced with uneven metal sheets, resulting in hot patches where the cake browns more in certain areas.

Aluminum is reactive, therefore whether the pH of the meal is low (acidic) or high (basic), the aluminum will react and may leak into the food. This isn’t an issue for most recipes, but if you’re making a blueberry rhubarb crisp, for example, you should use a porcelain dish or something non-reactive.

STEEL (STAINLESS STEEL)

Stainless steel is an iron alloy, which means it is created from a combination of metals and nonmetals. The metals vary from one variety of stainless steel to the next, as do the percentages of each. This implies that not all stainless steels are created equal, and their qualities will vary depending on the grade. Stainless steel, in general, is not a good heat conductor, but it is popular because it is simple to clean and does not tarnish or rust (unless your stainless steel is very bad quality).

SILICONE

Silicone is an insulator, which means it does not transfer heat well to your cakes and biscuits. If you’ve ever baked a batch of cookies on a silicone baking mat and compared them to a batch baked on a parchment-lined sheet pan, you’ll notice a significant difference: if you bake the cookies for the same amount of time, the cookies on the silicone liner will be under-baked and won’t brown as quickly as the cookies on parchment.

Baking on silicone is a terrific alternative for soft cookies! Nobody loves an under-baked cake, therefore if you make a cake in a silicone cake pan, you will have to adapt and extend the baking time.

GLASS

Glass is a poor heat conductor, which means it is ineffective in transferring heat from itself to what you are baking. Because baking in glass is slower, recipes take longer to bake. This is most noticeable with pies, which take longer to brown on the bottom when baked in a glass pie pan. This is why I now bake my pies in metal pie plates, which do a better job of baking and browning the bottom crust.

Glass is an insulator, which means it retains heat well. This is why glass baking pans are so popular for casseroles: they can travel from oven to dinner table while maintaining the heat of the oven for longer, keeping the food warm. If you bake the same casserole in a metal pan, the pan will quickly lose heat when placed on the table, causing the meal to cool quicker.

IRON CAST

There’s a reason why people treasure cast iron pans that have been handed down from generation to generation. Iron is a good conductor of heat, and a well-seasoned pan is nonstick. The seasoning procedure is brushing a very thin, uniform layer of oil over the whole surface of the pan, including the bottom, and then baking on that oil at a high temperature in the oven. Heat causes the oil to polymerize into a nonstick polymer, which is why it cannot be removed with soap and water.

CERAMIC

Ceramic, like glass, is a poor heat conductor but a fantastic insulator, which means it’s not excellent at transmitting heat to baked products but is wonderful at keeping heat, making it ideal if you want to serve the meal warm. This is why ceramic is a popular material in slow cookers that are intended to keep heat as long as possible. It’s also ideal for serving warm casseroles at the table.

CAST-IRON ENAMEL

To preserve the iron and prevent corrosion, certain cast iron pans are coated with an enamel coating. These pans combine the heating power of cast iron, which can effectively transmit heat to baked products, with a beautiful nonstick coating that also retains heat well.

METAL INSULATED

Insulated metal pans, built from two sheets of metal with an air gap in between, were extremely popular a decade ago. Because of the space between the layers, insulated pans seem thicker even though they are comprised of two thin sheets of metal. Because of the air, it is quite impossible to burn cookies cooked on this sort of sheet pan.

Insulated pans were popular because they minimized browning in baked products, particularly cookies, resulting in softer, lighter-colored cookies. If you like underbaked cookies, try using insulated pans (or using a silicone liner as mentioned above).

THE INFLUENCE OF METAL GAUGE ON BAKING

The narrower the pan, the higher the gauge. The thinner the pan, the lower the gauge. It’s acceptable if you don’t know the gauge of the metal sheet used to construct your bakeware. The crucial thing to know is that thicker aluminum pans heat up quicker and bake your baked products faster than thinner metal pans.

PAN COLOR’S EFFECT ON BAKING

Yes, the color of your bakeware may effect how much your baked items brown in the oven, and you should adjust the baking temperature based on the bakeware you choose.

DARK VERSUS LIGHT FINISH

Heat is radiated more strongly by darker materials than by lighter ones. A pan with a dark, dull (matte) finish will thus emit the most heat, whilst a pan with a glossy metal surface would radiate the least.

The greatest pans for distributing heat to baked items are those that emit the most heat. With darker pans, I suggest lowering the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, or baking at 325 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, to accomplish the same bake time as a dessert cooked in a lighter pan. Why? Darker finishes reflect more heat, so your baked products will be exposed to a greater temperature on the bottom of a dark pan than a lighter pan. Reduce the oven temperature to minimize this.

Similarly, if your recipe was made for and recommends baking in a darker pan, you should raise the oven temperature by 25 oF if you wish to use a lighter color pan. To produce the same result, bake the recipe at 375 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

WHAT KINDS OF PANS SHOULD YOU GET?

Knowing all of this, you may be asking what the best baking pans to invest in are, so I’ll break it down by the sort of baked items you’d need them for:

Invest in aluminum cake pans with a light finish for cakes, such as the Wilton professional range of bakeware, which is light in color and has a matte surface. If you want to make layer cakes, get three cake pans of the same size and style.

I like pans with a lighter finish for quick breads and loaf cakes. I’ve been baking with OXO Good Grips pans with the gold nonstick coating lately (from Amazon).

Buy at least two sheet pans, ideally heavy duty with a light finish, and preferable half sheet pans to accommodate more cookies per pan, spacing them apart to allow for air flow. On Amazon, I prefer the Nordic Ware sheet pans. If you intend on baking pizzas or other dishes that need the bottom to brown, invest in pans with a darker finish or try raising the oven temperature to guarantee the bottoms brown correctly.

Buy a metal pie dish with a darker finish for pies, which will absorb additional heat while also being an excellent heat conductor! It’s the ideal mix for baking the pie crusts on the bottom and avoiding the dreaded soggy bottom of under-baked pies! These Amazon dark metal pans work well.

A light springform pan with a good seal is necessary for cheesecakes. This allows you to gently bake cheesecakes in a water bath, eliminating cracks, but it also reduces browning on the sides, allowing the cheesecake to bake more evenly. On Amazon, I prefer these Wilton springform pans.

Nordic Ware bundt pans are the finest in the business for bundts. They contain a nonstick coating to prevent baked items from becoming caught in the complex patterns and grooves. Nordic Ware pans are very durable, and the brand has a well-deserved reputation. The anniversary pan on Amazon is strong durable, and that is the pan that I use for my website.

FAQs

DO YOU USE NON-STICK COOKWARE?

A coating is added to the surface of nonstick bakeware to prevent baked items from sticking. It works well enough that you don’t need to oil nonstick bakeware. However, to avoid problems, I always prepare all cake pans the same manner, with oil and flour. It’s added protection against sticking, regardless of what you’re baking.

WHAT IF THE NON-STICK COATING PEELS OFF OR CHIPPES?

If your bakeware’s nonstick coating is compromised, it may chip off farther into your meal when you serve from it. If the nonstick coating on your cookware is destroyed, it’s advisable to replace them.

DO YOU PREHEAT THE OVEN WITH THE BAKING PAN ON THE INSIDE?

Most recipes call for preheating the oven to the baking temperature specified in the recipe. The purpose of preheating the oven is to bring it up to the temperature you want to bake at. The heating elements are working hard to heat up the oven during the preheating phase, which means they are emitting a lot of heat, more than the elements emit subsequently to maintain that temperature. This is why you should allow your oven plenty of time to preheat before starting to bake. You don’t want to expose your baked items to that unexpected blast of heat from the heating components.

Preheat the oven with the baking pan INSIDE the oven for certain recipes. Preheat the oven with the pan inside for popovers, Yorkshire puddings, and Dutch baby pancakes since these recipes need baking in a hot pan. The heat from the pan is what causes the batters to puff and rise up.

Use room temperature baking pans for other dishes, such as cakes, cookies, and bundts. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, do not use a hot pan or one that has been prepared in the oven!

Blueberry rhubarb crumble with oat crumble topping presented in a circular porcelain blue baking dish with a fluted edge.

BAKING PANS: SHALLOW VS. DEEP

When it comes to filling cake or muffin pans with batter, there are a few guidelines to follow to guarantee that your baked products bake correctly and in a fair length of time.

Fill the pan just halfway. There should be at least an inch of space between the batter’s surface and the top of the cake pan. Fill muffin cups 34 full, otherwise the cake will overflow as it bakes, and you will have a difficult time baking the centre of the cake correctly, and your cake will collapse! The technique for giant muffins is sometimes to overfill the muffin cups, which has apparent consequences: the muffin may overflow and adhere to the borders of the muffin pan, and the muffins may take much longer to bake.

Split the dough between two or three cake pans for layer cakes rather than baking one extremely tall cake and then splitting it into layers. I have several 3-inch deep professional cake pans, however cakes prepared in these pans take FOREVER to bake correctly, and you may have difficulty determining whether or not your cake is done baking. For three-layer cakes, I like to divide the batter across three similar cake pans rather than bake one layer that is divided into three.

To acquire conversion charts for ingredients, pans, temps, volumes, weights, and more, I suggest purchasing the whole baking conversion charts package.

WHAT CAUSES BAKING PANS TO WARP OR BEND IN THE OVEN?

You may sometimes hear a blast coming from the oven. It’s the sound of a sheet pan in the oven bending or warping as a result of the heat. This occurs when pans have a thinner structure and are more prone to bending when temperatures vary. Better quality pans will usually not do this, which is why it’s crucial to invest in top companies that create thicker, higher quality pans. Wilton and Nordic Ware, for example, produce heavy-duty, long-lasting pans.

HOW COME BAKING PANS RUST?

If your pans are reportedly stainless steel, keep in mind that stainless steel is an alloy composed of many metals united into one. Not all stainless steels are created equal, with some being more robust, rust-proof, and stainless than others. I’ve discovered that stainless steel bakeware, for example, may rust, and whisks, for example, can impart a metallic flavor into cooked custards and curds that are whipped on the stove. This is quite dangerous.

Older pans may be constructed of iron, and the metal may rust when exposed to water and air. Baking in a rusty pan is not recommended since the metal rust may leak into your meal.

Cast iron pans may rust if exposed to damp for an extended length of time. As a result, it is critical to properly dry pans. I even bake the scrubbed pan in the oven to ensure that all of the water drains entirely and the pan is absolutely dry before storing it.

HOW TO AVOID IT

To prevent water damage to your metal bakeware, dry it promptly and completely with a towel after washing it.

WHY DO GLASS PANS BURN?

Glass bakeware is designed for baking and is shatterproof, yet some bakers have reported glass pans breaking or exploding. This would occur if the glass was broken and then subjected to a rapid temperature shift, such as from cold to hot or hot to cold. Make careful to check any glass bakeware you use to ensure there are no visible faults or damage. This way, you’re less likely to run into issues later on.

BAKEWARE CLEANING BEST PRACTICES

There’s a reason why practically every recipe on my page begins with “line the pan with parchment paper.” I despise cleaning my bakeware, and taking the effort to thoroughly prepare a pan for baking saves me a ton of time in the long run. As cleaning most cookware, soaking the pan in hot soapy water for 5 minutes typically removes any stuck-on food. Scrubbing brushes with too much grit should be avoided when cleaning baking pans, particularly if they have a coating or finish that might be damaged by repeated scrubbing.

To clean nonstick cookware, use distilled white vinegar with lemon juice on low heat for up to 30 minutes to loosen up any deposits that have found their way onto the nonstick nooks and crannies. Instead of using abrasive cleansers or sponges to remove deposits off nonstick bakeware, use brushes with nylon bristles, which are firm enough to remove deposits without damaging the surface. This will return the pan to like-new condition.

While glass bakeware is dishwasher-safe, if a persistent discoloration persists, use baking soda or dish soap with a dish brush. We do not advocate using scouring pads or other abrasive cleaning on our glass bakeware. A nylon brush is ideal, and a little elbow grease goes a long way.

For stainless steel surfaces, soak your cookware for approximately 10 minutes in distilled white vinegar. This is excellent for eliminating protein deposits from butter and oil. These stains may seem brown, yellow, hazy, or rainbow-colored. If you still can’t get rid of the worst stains, make a solution of aluminum powder (available at most hardware shops) and hot water and repeat the soak-and-scrub process.

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