What is a crucial step in baking? Making sure your baking pans are properly prepared for your baked good to be baked! Not only is "know your oven" is helpful, know your baked pans is necessary for a wonderful baked good delight!
GLASS VERSUS METAL:
Most old-school pans are glass or metal. Yes, I do have a couple metal pans. But I do love glass because it has more baking purposes and it is easier to clean up.
The key is knowing WHAT YOU ARE baking when choosing metal or glass pans. Glass pans are great for retaining heat and browning, the item will stay warm after it is out of the oven! I like to reduce the oven temp by 10-15 degrees F, when using glass, since it hold heat in very well. When cooking anything acidic, also choose glass pans. Metal pan will discolor the acidic food.
When do you use metal? BROILING! Never use glass when broiling. Choose a safe high-heat, metal broiling pan.
Most people find glass pans are easier to use, clean, and last longer than metal pans.
I do love my metal cake pans. Why? With metal, you can have nice, sharp, clean, straight lines! Perfect for a square or rectangle shaped cake. Metal pans also makes it easy for storing and will not break if it dropped!
PAN SPRAY OR PARCHMENT?
Many recipes will say "grease" your baking pan or "line it with parchment paper." I suggest when baking cake, brownies, or bar cookies, to line the pan with parchment paper AND spray the pan with food-safe-spray like PAM. Cut the parchment paper so it will line the pan perfect. The parchment paper will help the bottom not burn and the spray will help for easy-removing of the baked good and clean-up.
DO NOT spray or parchment paper-line angel food cake or any cake with an addition of egg whites (called "chiffon cakes"). Angel food cake needs to "grow" and the spray will hold it down!
What about recipes, esp. for brownies, that say to line it with foil and have "flaps" over the side for easy removal?
This is also a great idea! If you choose to do this, make sure the foil is perfectly lined and also do grease the bottom.
What about recipes that say butter and flour the pans?
I do not like doing this because it gives a "flour-y" taste to the edges of the baked good. You will get white marks on your item.
What about cookies?
Just parchment lined cookie pan. No need to grease due to the fat content already in the cookie.
-Cupcake pans: Lined with cupcake wrappers! Cupcakes have MATURED! Cheap wrappers will feel/look "soggy" after being baked. Please avoid foil wrappers, they will not properly "stick" to the cupcake itself. There are many high quality cupcake wrappers on the market.
-Casseroles: Spray the glass pan! Glass pans are easier to uniformly cut versus metal pans.
-Flexi-Pans: No need to spray or line these pans due to the uniform quality of the pan material. Yet, these tend to be very flexible and might "change" the shape of your baked good when baking. Very easy to clean and store!
-Silpat: Silpats are French non-stick baking mats. Many professional use them for candy and sugar work. They tend to be expensive, so only by Silpats if you are going to use it on a regular basis. If not, just stick with the parchment paper.
Remember to collect baking pans that you use on a REGULAR basis! You can have all glass pans, or all metals...or a flexi-pans! Choose what fits your baking lifestyle.