- specific ingredients
- desired shape and size
- required characteristics for the finished product
The Right Type of Cake Pan for the Job
If you’re struggling to figure out the best baking pans for you, here’s a handy guide to types of cake pans that will make it easier to create soft, spongy cakes, chewy cookies, and perfectly browned breads. Always consider the material of the pan, the size and shape, flexibility and durability, as well as overall practicality. These are the secrets to finding the best baking pans for all your kitchen adventures.
Best Baking Pans for Cakes
Many cake makers prefer glass or aluminium pans that are very heat efficient and ensure that heat is distributed evenly throughout the batter, creating a tender, moist and spongy cake. Cast iron doesn’t quite distribute heat as evenly, producing cakes with a very tough, dense crumb. These tend to be quite dry, especially if the cake is slightly overcooked. A modern trend for cake pans is silicone which is great due to its non-stick properties, but always consider the type of cake you’re making before opting for silicone. For ‘wet’ cakes, like gooey chocolate fudge cake, silicone is undoubtedly the best choice. But remember silicone’s not as good for ‘dry’ cakes, like sponge. Because liquids aren’t absorbed into the material, an oily layer between the cake and the pan can cause sogginess, and the cake may fail to brown as expected.
I use these all the time, there’s so many uses for these cake pans. They make it so easy to create fabulous marble cakes, cheesecakes, tea cakes in fact very often these are my ‘go to’ baking pans. You just need to ensure the sides of the pan are well greased before adding your crust, (if you’re cooking a cheesecake) or batter if you’re baking a cake. Greasing the sides well ensures that you won’t have any problems at all with sticking when if comes to removing the pan from the cake after cooking. Simply unclip the side panel and carefully holding the bottom pan supporting your cake lift out of the sides of the pan.
Loaf pans are widely considered to be the best baking pans for making breads, particularly classic-style loaves. These rectangular-shaped baking pans produce that traditional loaf look. But it’s not all about aesthetics, it’s also about practicality. It’s important that bread is cooked in this shape to ensure there’s a good crust-to-crumb ratio. Generally speaking, metal tins are the best baking pans for breads. The reason is that silicone is too flexible and allows the bread to expand outwards, rather than upwards, producing a rather strange-looking loaf whose texture is a little off.
- When bread cooks, the dough bubbles in the outer 3mm of the loaf. The bubbles are expanding and collapsing and creating a density which turns into a crust. This process is causing a temperature drop at the core allowing the inside of the bread to cook at a lower temperature. The outside cooks at a higher temperature creating a flaky inner crumb and a classic, browned crust. If you’d like to read a complete scientific explanation for this process, click on this link
Best Baking for Brownies & Blondies
Studies looking into the best baking pans have consistently concluded that rounded pans have much better heat distribution than rectangular pans, but no one wants round brownies or blondies! The heat distribution issue of rectangular pans means that they don’t create a classic brownie. The perfect brownie should have crispy, almost caramelized edges, while the center should be soft, gooey, and almost as if it’s a little undercooked. A rectangular baking pan will produce the perfect brownie around the edge of the pan, but the brownies in the middle will lack the crispy, chewy crust of their rounded edge counterparts. For this reason, both amateur and professional bakers generally agree that the best baking pans for brownies and blondies are those that are compartmentalised, much like a muffin pan.
Baking Pans for Cookies
The good thing about cookie dough is that it’s quite versatile, and cookies can usually be baked using practically any bakeware. But if you’re looking for the best baking pans for cookies this is what you need to consider. The choice really depends on the ingredients you use to make your cookie dough.
- Cookies that are made with baking fat will spread slightly in the oven, but not too much. These cookies can successfully be cooked on a baking sheet, or even in a roasting pan.
- Cookies made with oil spread out more. They’ll need plenty of room when cooking.
Therefore the best baking pans for cookies made with oil are cookie sheets, which are similar to baking sheets but without the raised lip. Cookie sheets have lots of usable space, which gives the dough adequate room to spread out without creating co-joined cookies. Resources for further reading: