Weekly Hack: Baking pans 101

By Marie C Fields/Shutterstock

The holidays might be the one time of year that even non-bakers bake, whether out of festive desperation (shortbread craving!), potluck requirements, or forced participation in somebody’s annual cookie exchange. There’s no avoiding it—time to bust out the baking sheets and 9 x 13 cake pans! But pick the right ones—and use them correctly—for the most baking success.

For drop, rolled, slice-and-bake, or shaped cookies

*The best cookie sheets are heavy. Thin sheets warp in the oven—you’ll hear the sproing-y popping sound.

*Choose sheets with a dull finish over shiny sheets (your cookies won’t bake evenly) or dark ones (cookies tend to over-brown).

*The lower the sides on a cookie sheet, the more evenly your treats will cook. If your cookie sheet has high sides, flip it over, and use the bottom as your baking surface.

For bar cookies, brownies, squares, or cakes 

*Ideally, you’d use the type of pan that the recipe calls for—usually metal. If you use a glass pan, decrease the oven temperature by 25°F. 

*Light-coloured metal pans are better for treats that you don’t want to brown too quickly: cake-like squares, or banana breads, for example.

*Don’t use glass for recipes that need to go under the broiler—squares with a marshmallow or praline topping, say. Glass can shatter under extreme heat.

*Keep in mind that glass holds heat longer—and is slower to cool down—than metal, so anything you’re making will continue to bake even after you take it out of the oven. If you’re making something prone to over-baking—peanut butter bars, brownies—you’re better off taking the pan out early.

*You can usually confidently double a recipe meant for an 8 x 8 pan to fit in a 9 x 13 pan, and use a 9” round pan in place of an 8” square pan. Swapping 8 x 8 for 9 x 9? The results might not be perfect. But hey, this is Cottage Life. We’re not the Baking Police.

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