Know your baking pans, tips and buyers guide
The pan you use when baking has a surprising amount of impact on the quality of your baked goods.
Try to always use the correct size pan in proportion to the amount of food to be baked. Inside measurements of baking pans are the ones referred to in recipes.
For pie pans, measure the size of the opening across the top of the pan. To measure cake pans, check the inside diameter of round pans and depth, width, and length of others.
The arrangement of pans in the oven can make a great difference in the evenness of baking. When baking one item, center it in the oven, top to bottom, front to back and side to side.
When you use two or more pans in the oven place them at least one inch (2 ½ cm) from the sides and back of the oven as well as allow space between pans on the same rack.
When two oven racks are used, place one rack just above the center set of guides and the other just below center.
Never position baking pans directly above the other on different racks. There must be room for the heat to circulate freely to deliver even baking.
Pans for Cakes
The best value we found was a twin set: OvenStuff Non-Stick 9 Inch Round Cake Pan Two Piece Set in the 9-inch non-stick category and the Baker's Secret 8-inch non-stick cake pan.
Try to use the size of pan called for in the recipe. Cake tops tend not to brown well if you use a pan that is too large because the batter cannot rise to the top.
If possible, use shiny metal or glass pans. Darker pans can absorb more heat and cakes may over-brown.
The Wilton Performance Cake Pans Round Pan Set is of good quality and delivers the desirability of a shinier cake pan better than it's non-stick cousins.
The price is decent, and we love the fact that you get a number of different size pans so you can size your recipes as you wish.
However, if you need two 8 inch cake pans, you'll have to buy two sets, but it would be well worth the bit of extra cost.
When you are using a glass baking dish, use a temperature that is 25℉ (10℃) lower than called for in the recipe.
Watch out for warped pans as they may cause cakes to rise and bake unevenly.
If you don't have the shape of pan you want, it is possible to make your own from a double-layer of heavy aluminum foil. Crease the foil firmly at the corners so that the shape will hold during baking.
To get proper browning of the crust a pie pan needs to absorb and hold heat. Oven glassware and stoneware meet the requirements perfectly.
If Le Creuset is out of your price range, there are less expensive options, such as The Pioneer Woman 9 Inch Stoneware Pie Dish.
Most readily available glass pie pans we have tried have worked as expected so there is no need to pay more than you have to.
We did find one excellent standout, the Anchor Hocking Fire King Deep Pie Baking Dish, with the handy feature of handles that are very helpful when taking the pie out of the hot oven.
Deep dish style pie pans with high sides, both made of glass and metal, are especially good for fruit pies because the juices are less likely to boil over in a high-sided pie pan.
Pans for Cookies and Biscuits
The higher sides of pans shield the food from the heat and prevent even browning.
The baking sheet should not touch the sides or the back of the oven because this interferes with the circulation of heat in the oven.
Proper cookie sheets without edges are surprisingly difficult to find and seem to cost a fortune in department stores.
Here are 3 of our favorites, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg.
If you find yourself in a position and do not have a baking sheet, you can bake cookies or biscuits on the bottom of an inverted cake or even a larger roasting pan.
To help speed up cookie-making, place rolled or drop dough cookies on sheets of aluminum foil ready for baking in the oven.
Once a pan of cookies comes out of the oven, slip the unbaked sheet of foil onto the pan and back into the oven without delay.
In a pinch, with heavy foil and care, you may place a sheet of foil with cookies directly onto the oven rack without a pan underneath.