You need a bread pan. No big deal. Drive to (insert your retailer of choice here). Walk to the kitchenware department. Turn down the bakeware aisle. Grab a metal bread pan. Wait. There is a glass one. Put the metal one back. Grab the glass. Start walking again. Wait. There is a ceramic one. Pretty color. Put the glass one back. Grab the ceramic. Indecision starts to set in. Which one’s cheapest. Sold. Get me out of this madness. Sound familiar. Okay, admittedly a bit exaggerated, but you get the point. Good grief there are a lot of bakeware options. With so many options, I thought it would be great to give you a brief cheat sheet to help you as you are shopping or baking.
- Metal (nonstick) – Nonstick Metal is arguably the most popular material used in bakeware. It is versatile, light and typically nests well for easy storage. Similar to non stick cookware, you need to be diligent about NOT spraying it with cooking spray (even if the recipe says to) and NOT using metal utensils. You can put a little butter or oil on a paper towel and coat the pan if you feel a coating is necessary. I usually also coat the sides of my baking pans with flour or powdered sugar after coating with oil or butter. The best use for metal is for baked goods (bread, muffins, cake, cookies, etc.). It comes in an infinite array of shapes and sizes.
- Glass – Glass bakeware is made from tempered glass and is an excellent heat conductor. It can go from the refrigerator/freezer directly to a hot oven. However, you do need to make sure that once out of the oven, you allow it to cool down to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator/freezer. Glass is great for casseroles, particularly highly acidic dishes (i.e. pasta dishes). It is fairly easy to clean and does not stain. As an added bonus, you can spray cooking spray on it to your heart’s content. You do need to make sure you clean thoroughly so that any cooking spray residue is removed. **Important sidenote-You may need to adjust your cooking time down or slightly reduce the cooking temperature because glass tends to heat quickly and it retains heat longer (meaning it will still cook a little after you take it out)*** Glass bakeware has become synonymous with Pyrex but I want to point out that while Pyrex is arguably one of the biggest manufacturers of glass bakeware, there are other options. Anchor Hocking, as an example, also has great glass bakeware.
- Ceramic/ Stoneware – What I love about ceramic and stoneware is that it can literally go from oven to table. Ceramic typically comes in white (or french white) but the latest and greatest trend is color. Lots of color. Ceramic is incredibly versatile. You can freeze it, microwave it, bake with it and serve out of it.
- Silicone – Compared to the materials listed above, silicone is still in its infancy. It is a relatively new material that quite honestly has never really caught on to the masses. Several mass retailers did attempt to bring this trend to their customers but it did not sell well. Silicone, while innovative, takes the average consumer too far outside of their comfort zone. It has less structure so it is perceived as flimsier. It doesn’t stack well, so it raises concerns of storage. Whether silicone will gain traction in the bakeware remains to be seen.
This is just one aspect of bakeware. There is MUCH to discuss. I will also be diving into the types of pans that are available (i.e. cookie sheets-dark coated, light coated, insulated???) in a future blog. So much time. So few options. Strike that. Reverse it. (in the words of Mr. Willy Wonka 🙂 ). Happy baking everyone!! Until next time..