Gear Essentials: Baking (Part 2)

If you’re going to bake with forms — and there’s no saying you have to do that — there are basically six categories the average home baker needs: loaf pans, cake pans, tart pans, springform pans, pie pans and muffin pans. I keep several sizes of each, and I vastly prefer shiny finishes over dark nonstick, though sometimes you need a pan and can’t find anything else.

The most useful loaf pans are probably the standard 9.5″ x 5.25″ if you’re baking bread. For tea breads you want the little 3.5″ x 5.5″ inchers. The go-to round cake pan size is 9″ though 8″ and even 6″ are nice to have around. I didn’t show my 8″ square cake pan but that’s fairly essential if you make a lot of single-layer cakes, brownies or bars.

For tart pans a 9″ and 10″ are fairly essential, but I also like smaller sizes when I find them cheap (I’m a big one for throwing together an appetizer tart out of frozen dough scraps and I never know how much I’ll have). Get ’em bottomless. I recommend 8″, 9″ and 10″ springform pans, but don’t buy the expensive coated things.

Indeed I don’t recommend paying more than ten or fifteen bucks for any basic form. Buy them at restaurant supply stores, not kitchenware boutiques where you’ll get taken to the cleaners as it were. Value shop. Look for things used. Professional bakeries do that…why should’t you?

All that said if you find you’re getting heavily into some particular sort of baking, there’s nothing wrong with paying up for expensive gear that will deliver incremental improvements. If you’re really into tennis you probably have a great racket. Most of us, however, get all the enjoyment we need out of a $20 Target special. Knowadimean? But be sensible and don’t go broke over something you’ll use only a couple of times.

7 thoughts on “Gear Essentials: Baking (Part 2)”

  1. I used to bring a pretty good assortment of pies and tarts to our Farmers Market Stand and started using long narrow rectangule, wide rectangle, and square shapes as an alternative to the regular round. They were a big big hit because they provided visual variety that prevented all the tarts from looking boreing when laid out. The customers loved them because they were able to bring an unusual shaped tart to serve to their guests. We aslo began using small individual sizes in different shapes. They flew off the table every week. I think they are worth the investment because they can make a really arresting and elegant presentation.

    1. Fabulous! I would love to see those. If you ever make any again I’d love to have a picture. Unexpected presentation is a very powerful effect – not to mention a great use of forms you might not ordinarily employ.

      Thanks Andy!

      – Joe

  2. I love restaurant supply stores; I’ve found some awesome deals there like large cooling racks under $2 and professional baking sheets under $4. So glad you posted that tip!

    1. RACKS! Goodness me, I forgot about cooling racks! Thanks Ann — those are crucial!

      – Joe

  3. I’d like to know the answer to Evan’s question too. Pros and cons of shiny versus dark (non-stick) tart and quiche pans such as Gobel brand. Thanks.

    1. I’ll answer that on the blog this morning, Robert, as I’m sure there are lots of others who’d like to know. Cheers and thanks for reminding me to get on the case!

      – Joe

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