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Hi Bold Bakers!
Here at Bigger Bold Baking, we’re all about giving you the confidence to bake anywhere and anytime, no matter your experience level or the kitchen equipment you have on hand. In order to be a successful baker, you really only need the basic baking tools. That’s really what a baking set is all about, and that’s why I’m here today!
I’m going to give you a complete and comprehensive look into what cake pans, brownie pans, and cookie sheets you should have in your kitchen, from types and sizes to features and finishes. We’ll even talk about cleaning practices and how to make your beloved bakeware last longer! If you’re brand new to baking or experienced but wanting to upgrade your set, welcome!
This is your go-to resource for all of your bakeware queries.
What’s The Difference Between Cookware & Bakeware?
Cookware is a group of pots and pans — like frying pans and saucepans — that are intended for use on your stove or range cooktop. Bakeware, more specifically, is a group of pans that are meant to pop inside of your hot oven. This includes tins, trays, pans, and other items placed in the oven during baking. Some oven-safe tools and utensils are considered both cookware and bakeware, but today, we’re focusing on bakeware that ultimately grants you yummy desserts. If you’re wanting to get to know your oven better before adding bakeware to the equation, check out our Guide To Knowing Your Oven.
The Ultimate Bakeware Buying Guide
Finding your bakeware fit is like a culinary choose-your-own-adventure game. A good baker works with what they have, but an amazing baker — like any artisan — learns what they need and builds their toolkit. Let’s get into all of the factors to take into consideration on your search for the perfect bakeware set!
From a basic loaf to an extravagant tiered cake, there’s always something new to make — which means there are all types of dishes, pans, tins, and trays to make them in and on. There’s everything from tube pans to bundt pans and cooling racks, but have no fear! Today, we’re just focusing on the bare bones and basics. Every kitchen needs a starting lineup!
- Baking Pans/Baking Tins: These are an essential piece to the baking puzzle, and probably the most foundational building block. The deep dishes are perfect for creating a traditional layered cake among all sorts of other treats, including brownies, bars, cobblers, and more. They typically come in three different shapes: round (cake pans), square (brownie pans), and rectangle (sheet cake pans). It’s good to have all three, but round pans are my absolute favorite, as they also make a wonderful option for sweet rolls, biscuits, and cookie cakes.
- Baking Sheets/Baking Trays: Flat and rectangular with rolled or slanted edges, these devices are often used for baking bread rolls, pastries, cookies, sheet cakes, swiss rolls, and more. Half-sheet pans with rimmed edges, also known as jelly roll pans, fall into this category.
- Cookie Sheets/Cookie Pans: Although cookies can be baked on both cookie sheets and baking sheets, there is a key difference. Cookie sheets have one raised edge and three flat ones for easy sliding, while baking sheets have four one-inch edges. You can choose to add both to your collection, or just one. Either come in handy!
- Cupcake Pans/Muffin Pans: Most commonly referred to as cupcake pans and muffin pans, this type of bakeware says it all in the name. They are also wonderful options for creating egg bakes and even miniature cheesecakes!
- Pie Dishes: Also referred to as pie tins, these nifty items bake single-crust, double-crust pies, tarts, and more. I’m a huge fan of the GoodCook Oven to Table Stoneware 9 Inch Pie Dish and the GoodCook Premium Nonstick 9 Inch Pie Pan, mentioned in my 7 Tips & Tools for Baking the Best Pies.
- Loaf Pans: Also known as bread pans, these sturdy containers hold anything from poundcake to sandwich bread. They’re perfect for small-scale baking.
- Springform Pans: This unique type of bakeware has a fun feature where the sides can be locked or removed from the base for an easy-release. Typically used for cheesecakes and other types of cakes, the tight seal makes it simple to use and super reliable so there’s no leaks or sticking.
Standard Bakeware Sizes
In pretty much every recipe you look at, you’ll notice that a specific pan size is listed. Why? Because in baking, size does matter. Of course, you want your cake to bake all the way through and your brownies to be the perfect texture! This is why it’s a fantastic idea to get the standard, most-used sizes so you never have to worry about getting the right size at the last minute.
- 9″ Round Cake Pan and Pie Dish: This is a standard size for classic bakeware sets, traditional layer cakes, and pies. These pans create the perfect flat bottoms and rounded tops that will release your cake smoothly or boast your stunning pie. If you can’t get your hands on a 9” pan, a 10” pan should do the trick. An extra-deep one is a great choice because it will hold extra filling!
- 9″ x 13″ Rectangular Sheet Cake Pan: Another standard pan size, this useful pan will usually hold about three quarts. Most cake and cupcake recipes fit into this traditional size with no hassle or adjustments.
- 13″ x 18″ Jelly Roll Pan: Known as the half-sheet pan, this is one of the most fitting and versatile sizes (it fits a dozen cookies nicely). Most ovens have an interior rack of about 22” wide, and the size of this pan gives optimal room for air around the pan to circulate.
- 12-Cup Cupcake Pan: While there are some smaller and larger cupcake and muffin pans out there, the standard is a 12-count. If you’re a cupcake lover and want to go crazy with as many sizes as possible, you can also consider getting a 6-cup or 24-cup.
- 9″ x 5″ Loaf Pan: Durable and plain, this loaf pan size is a total staple. You really can’t go wrong with a solid loaf of savory or sweet bread!
- 17″ x 11″ Cookie Sheet or Pan: This size yields the perfect amount of cookie to satisfy a room or family with a sweet tooth.
- 8” × 8” Square Brownie Pan: Bars and brownies get their perfect balance of crisp and chewy in these pans. Everything will cook evenly and maintain the perfect texture. A 9” ×9” inch is also a good option if an 8” x 8” inch is not available to you.
- 9” Springform Pan: Perfect for cheesecakes and tarts, this size pan will never let you down.
Cookware dates all the way back to the 3rd century B.C. with the invention of the copper pan, while bakeware came along during the development of pottery. Luckily, filling baskets with wood coals, covering them with clay, and suspending them above a fire is a thing of the past! By the seventeenth century, brass and copper were popular in Asia and Europe while iron pots became common in American colonies. We’ve come a long way because today we have seemingly endless options to choose from. Typically, if a recipe calls for a “pan” it means some sort of metal, and if it requires a “dish” it more than likely means glass or ceramic. Depending on what you like to bake, you might want one or a few of these types of bakeware. Here is what’s what:
- Glass: These baking dishes are non-reactive, so they won’t release any chemicals into your food. Batter baked in glass, though, often takes longer than other materials. Although it takes longer to heat, it gets really hot. This means that glass is a great option for those who cook brownies often, because it takes longer for the center to cook, which means an ooey-gooey middle. Do be careful of switching temperatures surrounding the glass too quickly (oven to the fridge) — they can bust!
- Stoneware: These are some of the most beautiful dishes, if you’re interested in spectacular presentations and aesthetics; take them straight from the oven to the table for serving. They are glazed and/or fired — and often deeper than glass or metal dishes — which is helpful for recipes with lots of filling or frosting. This means they’re perfect for a pretty and delicious pie!
- Ceramic: Ceramics conduct heat pretty poorly and have a shorter lifespan than most bakeware, however, they are another absolutely stunning dish. They have a no-stick surface, are relatively easy to clean, and are toxin-free. They’re great for baking on relatively low heats and over long periods of time; bread’s calling!
- Cast Iron: Typically reserved for stovetop, cast iron can be used as bakeware. It’s wonderful at retaining heat, and whatever delectable dessert or boule-shaped bread you are making will keep cooking while it’s in cast iron. Enameled cast iron harnesses the conductivity of the surface and can be used with some soaps, sparingly. Regular cast iron soaks in the seasoning and maintains some taste; it’s also a non-stick surface of sorts, but it has the potential to rust. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s lead-free!
- Stainless Steel: Professional chefs and restaurants use stainless steel plated bakeware. It’s incredibly durable and essentially indestructible; it is inherently resistant to corrosion and rust, though it is not 100% stain-proof. The heat distribution is unmatched, and if used correctly, foods won’t stick. It’s a pretty safe and solid material and is the master of browning foods — which can be amazing or not-so-amazing depending on what you’re baking.
- Uncoated Aluminum: This used to be widely used, but has become less common. The material can be reactive and potentially impart a metallic taste onto some foods, so if you are using it to bake your treats, be sure to use parchment paper or a baking mat in tandem.
- Aluminized Steel: Aluminum, when paired with steel, becomes one of the best materials for baking, especially cakes. It’s durable for years and years, affordable, and super easy to clean. The way it heats quickly and uniformly is incredibly ideal. Choose one that is multi-layered with heavy-duty gauge steel, which makes it resistant to warping and denting.
- Silicone: This super-fun, eco-friendly option is safe for both the oven and the freezer. It’s heat-resistant and doesn’t change flavors or release funny odors. Do note that over time, though, silicone is not as durable as metal. One safety tip if you go down the silicone route: always use these products at the recommended temperatures so they maintain their form and can be reused.
- Insulated: These items are ideal for preventing thin goodies from browning too rapidly. The tops and bottoms of your sweets will come out with an even color and balanced bake. If you’re not a fan of firmer, browned edges and tend to whip up lighter desserts, such as shortbread and sugar cookies, these could be the pans for you. Since these pans do heat more slowly, be sure to modify your baking time.
- Nonstick Coated Steel: This is the most common bakeware material found in households across the country. It’s perfect for everyday baking as it’s easy to clean and a good overall value. GoodCook Premium Nonstick Bakeware is a great option!
Features, Surfaces, Finishes
There can be a lot of desirable qualities to sift through when searching for the best bakeware fit for you. The great news is that you can opt for one, for some, or for all! If you’re looking for a sturdy set, GoodCook Textured Nonstick Bakeware Set features quite a few of these benefits, like a durable diamond-infused nonstick coating and a textured surface to ensure a better release.
- Nonstick Surface: Nonstick surfaces on bakeware are ideal because they are super easy to clean, typically scratch-resistant, and make food release excellently seamless. These sheets and pans tend to be darker in color, so be ready for quickly baked delicacies and cookies with crispy edges.
- Nonstick Textured Surface: Rigid and patterned-finished bakeware promote proper airflow and eliminates hot spots within the pans. They also offer additional stability, strength, durability, and improved release.
- Straight Walls: To bake like a professional baker, getting bakeware with bakery-style smooth, straight sides is crucial. The best kinds are designed with straighter edges for professional-looking cakes and pastries.
Cleaning & Caring
Ideally, you want to get the most out of whatever bakeware set or items you take home. Like anything in life, you get out of bakeware what you put in — quite literally and metaphorically. When you clean and take care of it, it will last you longer. Here are some tips for ensuring long-lasting performance:
- Avoid thin materials and seek out bakeware that is heavy-duty, thick, and sturdy — they will be more durable than flimsy options (and won’t warp in the oven with temperature changes!).
- Store your bakeware wisely — most do well in dry settings with paper towels or tea towels between them to avoid scratching if you decide to nest them.
- Don’t use nonstick sprays on nonstick pans and sheets! Over time, they cause an invisible buildup that actually causes your ingredients to stick to the bakeware.
- Less oil is needed for nonstick pans, so use sparingly!
- Use parchment paper or other cooking liners to make for easy clean-up — this avoids having to scrub and potentially scratch the surface to get food off of the pan.
- Always allow your bakeware to cool before cleaning — if you put a hot pan in water, it can buckle and warp.
- Follow the cleaning instructions that come with your bakeware closely.
- Dishwashers diminish the properties of nonstick coatings. Opt to hand wash your pans in warm soapy water even if they are dishwasher safe — this results in a longer lifespan.
- Over time, it’s natural for coating/finishes on nonstick pans to begin wearing and losing their nonstick properties. When this happens, it is time to replace your set and start anew.
Are Cake Pans And Brownie Pans Interchangeable?
The truth is that cake pans and brownie pans are simply names — they’re the same thing! Both items are bakeware that have thick bottoms and steep sides that keep the delectable treat moist and facilitate slow and even baking from the outside in. The only real difference is the size that is typically attached to each name.
The most common size for a square cake is 8” x 8” and the most common size for a round cake is 9”. The most common size for a biscuit/brownie pan is 11” x 7”. A 9” x 9” is typically interchangeable for most cake recipes. With all of that being said, the right pan size is crucial to the success of your culinary creation! Baking is as much of an art as it is a science. Be sure to pay special attention to the specifics listed in the recipes you use most often — if the pan size changes, so should the bake time.
Should I Get Cookie Sheets With Edges Or Without Edges?
This is a question I receive from new and advanced bakers from all around the globe. I believe the right sheet or pan material is the key to better cookies, rather than the edges. I recommend an insulated cookie sheet (or “slide-off cookie sheet”). They are made of two sheets of metal that allow air to flow in between them, which allows for more even baking and less burning.
If you plan to bake cookies and cookies only, a cookie sheet without edges (or one raised edge for gripping, rather) is optimal because it makes it ever-so-easy to slide your cookies off. If you want to make use of this surface for other types of baking and cooking, like roasting veggies, then a sheet or pan with edges is a great choice because no juices or other liquids will run off the pan and into your oven.
Is It Better To Use Darker Pans Or Lighter Pans?
Dark pans absorb heat and tend to brown foods faster, which means they are more likely to burn baked goods than light pans. Light pans, on the other hand, reflect heat and often produce a more even bake.
If you are a fan of dark pans and opt to use them, no worries! Just reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and the baking time by 25 percent. You can also try double panning, which slows down the baking and allows for a perfect finish. This works with cookies, rolls, or any treats where the bottoms brown before the rest is baked. All you have to do is stack two same-sized cookie sheets and bake according to the directions, sometimes increasing baking time for a few more minutes if needed.
How Much Bakeware Should I Add To My Collection?
It’s ultimately up to you to decide what assortment of bakeware is best for your kitchen. To start, ask yourself what desserts and delicious treats you plan to whip up the most. Do you bake a lot of cakes? You’ll want 2-3 round or square cake pans for beautifully layered cakes. Are you a banana bread aficionado? Add multiple loaf pans to your cart. Have a cookie monster or pie lover in the family? Bring at least two pie pans and cookie sheets into your bakeware family, so that you can put more than one at a time in the oven — side by side, of course, so no heat is blocked while baking.
If you’re overwhelmed with all of the options, you’re not alone. This GoodCook Textured Nonstick Bakeware Set is a great and easy place to start because it includes everything you need for baking your favorite cakes, pastries, muffins, and more while producing that bakery-style look.
Now that you have your standard pieces of bakeware, you can whip up all types of recipes I’ve shared. If you opt for the GoodCook Textured Nonstick Bakeware Set, they fit perfectly in these pans and on the sheets!
I am a proud ambassador for GoodCook! I have used their pans for years, and am happy to say that GoodCook has sponsored this article so I could bring you all the information you need to know about bakeware.