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Cookie sheets

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Bought a beautiful Christmas cookie book at the Chow Fiesta -- I'm not much of a baker. Time to buy some new cookie sheets and try some of those yummy looking recipes. Which sheets are best for cookies -- the silver ones, or the darker, non-stick? Do I have to adjust my baking time for the darker ones?

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  1. This seems to be a subject that draws out a myriad of opposing opinions. So I'll offer up the first opinion against which subsequent posters may oppose. I have two commercial aluminum half-sheet pans which have proven to be the best cookie sheets after years of trying nearly everything else on the market (excluding the air-core variants). Last year when I moved, I got rid of FOUR sets of cookie sheets at my tag sale: plain steel (because that's what my mother used) worked okay, but warped and had hotspots; non stick were okay but warped and the coating scrubbed off; something black-coated on which cookies always burned; can't recall what the fourth was, but they must have been lousy, too, or I would have kept them.

    With any cookie sheets, the best way to guarantee even baking is to rotate the pans front-to-back and top-to-bottom halfway through the baking time.

    I use the commercial sheet pans for a number of other tasks, too, most prominently for baking all the winter squash we seem to eat around here. I line the pans with parchment before plopping the squash halves upside-down; virtually no clean-up required afterwards.

    19 Replies
    1. re: GG Mora

      I second the half-sheet aluminum pans (mine are Wearever) pans, the work horses of my kitchen, about $10 a piece, and mine must be 15 years old....Cookies, veggies and calzones. They're pretty easy to clean, but I added a sheet of Silpat last year for virtually no clean-up; hey, I run out of energy by the end of the baking binge ;)

      1. re: galleygirl

        I third the commercial half-sheet pans.

        1. re: Jujubee

          For me it depends on the oven - when I had a convection oven the commercial half-sheets were the best, and indestructable. Now that I'm using an old 60's electric double oven ( I'm dying to upgrade, but it's hard to find anything that will fit into the old built-in space, and I'm not up for too much renovation right now ) the only thing that doesn't burn the bottoms are the air-core sheets.
          I also find it easier to slide the cookies off them, even with an off-set spatula.
          In all cases, I hate the dark sheet pans.

          1. re: hattie

            Two years ago I got rid of all my ratty old cookie sheets and bought expensive new black metal ones---and every cookie I have baked on them has burned. I wish I had my old trash back. Have been using a large commercial sheet pan with success. BTW, the best cake pans I have came from an old bakery in DC that some years back was going out of business and selling all pans for twenty-five cents apiece---NOTHING sticks to them. If ever you have the chance to make a bakery raid in such circumstances, do not pass it by. Or, if you are lucky enough to have such a thing as a neighborhood bakery, ask them what they're going to do with their old pans when they replace them. Look eager.

        2. re: galleygirl

          I fourth the half sheet aluminum commercial pans. I found mine at a little restaurant supply store for about $5. My pastry teacher has 15 yo sheet pans that are still shiny. His trick was never to use spray-on pan spray - which bakes into a brownish glue that doesn't scrub all the way off. He always used butter, or parchement, or a silpat (silpats are a miracle!)

        3. re: GG Mora

          I'll add a solid amen to commercial half sheets. I also have commercial whole sheets (I have a big oven). In a recent cookie baking binge, I used everything I had...stainless sheets, the commercial sheets, and 2 Pampered Chef baking stones. By far, the best results came from the commercial pans. I used my convection oven for cookie baking for the first time...don't know if that made a difference.

          1. re: GG Mora

            All the posts here endorse commercial aluminum half-sheets, which is consistent with all I've heard on the subject. But the only restaurant supply store in my area (Washington, DC) doesn't stock them. Can anyone suggest an online source? The only one I know of (except for expensive Manhattan retail shops) is the one linked below, and what they sell are bun pans (with four raised sides), not real baking sheets.

            Link: http://www.acemart.com/merchant.mv?Sc...

            1. re: Arista

              Bowery Kitchen Supply (in Chelsea Market) sells them for real cheap.

              Link: http://store.bowerykitchens.com/pans....

              1. re: Caviar

                As cheap as $6.50 a pan sounds, that's almost double what it should be (as is everything else at Bowery). I second the recommendation of Restaurant Equippers. Call 1-800-235-3325 and they'll send out a print catalog.

              2. re: Arista

                those "bun pans" are what would be called "half sheet pans" and are fine for cookies and whatnot. The sides aren't that high and don't interfere with the cookie baking.

                1. re: tigerwoman

                  I forgot to mention, you can usually buy this size half sheet pan (which fits into most domestic sized ovens) at places like Costco and BJ's too. Any restaurant supply place carries them.
                  COstco has them right now - a set of two pans with wire racks (for cooling or for baking something that you need to let the fat drip down)and two plastic lids that pop on top of the pan, so you can store or transport in the pans. Forgot how much - something like 8-10 for the set of 2. I find the plastic lids very handy for transporting hors d'ouerves and small stuff like that.

                2. re: Arista

                  Have you tried and good, larger, local hardware stores? Often the older, non-chain, but bigger hardware stores carry these. I'm not talking Home Depot, but local hardware stores (Not Ace Hardware, I;m pretty sure they wouldn't have it.)

                  1. re: Arista

                    Costco sells them, 3 for about $20.
                    jake

                    1. re: Arista

                      Did you try the restaurant supply place out on NY Ave--Best Equipment? They also have a branch on Morse Ave. NE at the "farmers market" next to Litteris (incidentally good italian grocer)--however that branch may only sell to the trade.

                      Otherwise, I like restaurant equippers. Their website is equippers.com and you can view a pdf version of their catalog.

                      1. re: mimi-dc
                        c
                        Caitlin McGrath

                        I have Restaurant Equippers' paper catalog, and they definitely sell commercial half sheet pans.

                        1. re: mimi-dc

                          Thanks, Mimi, I did try the Best Restaurant Supply on Morse St. I didn't know they had another store. Does it have the same stock? The one on Morse St. didn't have that much baking equipment. Where on NY Ave is the other place?

                          Best doesn't limit its sales to the trade -- I bought a couple of other things at the Morse St. shop.

                          Arista

                        2. re: Arista

                          I bought some aluminumm 1/2 sheets (not bun pans) at the Ace Mart here in Austin, Texas recently. I'd call the mail order folks and ask about them.

                          1. re: Arista

                            I recently purchased a commercial type half sheet pan at Sur La Table it is identical to some I have purchased in restautant supply stores.

                            1. re: Arista

                              It's Amazon day! Uh, they have Chicago Metallic pans on Amazon. Purchase through the link below and support Chowhound.

                              Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/sub...

                          2. All my cookie sheets are the commercial quality sheets that Chicago Metallic puts out. I got them cheap at Marshalls. I have four rimmed sheets (also called jelly roll pans) and four unrimmed sheets (but raised slightly on just two sides). I didn't spend a fortune on these. I probably spent $45 for all of them. Really lucky. They don't warp and they are NOT nonstick. I had some nonstick sheets and they definitely made cookies with darker bottoms than my standard sheets. I had to watch them like a hawk to avoid over-browning the edges of cookies. If you have time and are persistent, check out places like Marshall's and TJ Maxx for bargains.

                            1. Like other posters, I'm also big on commercial pans. While I've been very happy with Chicago Metallic and Wearever, I recently decided to try a pan by Doughmakers. I was intrigued by, and I'll admit also a bit suspicious of, their pebbled surface. All I can say is the cookies I've baked using these pans have come out perfectly in look, taste and texture. Just thought I would add one more brand for you to consider.

                              1. c
                                Caitlin Wheeler

                                Whatever cookie sheets you get, I would highly recommend the purchase of "super parchment" -- basically a silicone-coated sheet of parchment paper. It's about $5 per sheet, and washable and reusable, but doesn't affect heat distribution in the same way a silpat might because it's paper thin. I bake all my cookies on them, and never have problems with sticking or uneven browning.

                                1. Ah one of the eternal questions of baking. Welcome to the wonderful world of cookie baking. Maybe you'll be inspired when you get some fine new sheets!

                                  Non stick cookie sheets are, in my opinion, a waste of money. I've never, ever found a good one that I thought was worth it. The only one I've ever worked with that's technically "non stick" (but it's not dark, it's just textured gold-colored heavy aluminum that performs much like traditional nonstick surfaces) and is worth it is the All-Clad Gold Standard line of bakeware. But these are tres tres expensive (like 70$ for one sheet!) and I don't recommend these for any but the most serious bakers.

                                  Another wonderful material is French "blue" or black steel. This provides superior browning to every other material for baking sheets. Alas, this is also difficult to find, and, often, very expensive (in this country -- very cheap in France, but that doesn't help you!). French bakers use this material to create deeply browned, carmelized butter cookies, madeleines, tuiles, etc, but my experience is that they create deeper and more rapid browing than most American cooks like. This is a wonderful addition to your bakeware collection if you are lucky to get a hold of it, but it's difficult to clean and maintain, and I wouldn't go out and buy one unless you're really serious about French confections.

                                  So, those two aside, the best baking sheets are actually the most versatile, and are very cheap and durable (hooray!). The ones I refer to are rimmed baking sheets (also known as jelly roll pans). I find that good examples of these are the least likely to worp or bend over time. Even good-quality, heavy rimless baking sheets can bend (except the All-Clads I refer to above, which, like everything All-Clad, is built for the ages) over time. I don't find the "rimless" feature to make a difference -- only buy those if it's, for some reason, really important to you to slide all the cookies off the pan in one fell swoop. That's the only advantage to rimless that I can think of (and doing that often breaks cookies or damages them, so I don't feel the need to do that anyway!)

                                  The rimmed, or jelly-roll style, is a much more versatile pan. You can bake a jelly roll or thin sheet cake in it, and also use it for other tasks such as roasting vegetables, toasting nuts, or under a rack for roasting meats, etc. This is one very useful pan, and you will get no end of value out of the 20$ or so you pay for it (like the good example at MarthaStewart.com below, but this is by no means the only source). If you get a really heavy, shiny, aluminum rimmed pan that has wire-reinforcement in the rims it will definitely NOT worp or bend, even with heavy use. This is a great feature, since a worped pan doesn't bake cookies properly, and can ruin things like meringues and tuiles.

                                  In these aluminum pans, the shiny surface is great for creating a good browned crust, especially in butter-rich recipes. You want your pans to be shiny to maximize this feature.

                                  However, the nonstick issue rears its head. This is, happily, easily resolved by one of the best innovations in recent years in baking technology == the Silpat baking mat. These are worth every penny you have to pay for them (usually between 17-30$). I know this is an additional thing to buy, but if you have one (or two, one for each baking sheet if you get two of those) you can always, always rely on a completely non-stick surface for your bakingsheet, no matter what. Things like burnt sugar, baked-on chocolate, or rock-hard icing peel off the Siplat with perfect ease. There is nothing but nothing that will stick to these babies.

                                  And so you have it -- a pan that has many uses, can be used alone for good browning on its shiny surface, or used with the Silpat for a non-stick surface. You'll be all set.

                                  Don't scrimp on cheap bakingsheets -- they will not save you money in the end. It's best to buy your baking sheets in person so you can gauge the weight (unless you buy from Martha, I can personally vouch that these are the real deal). Restaurant supply and hardware stores are better sources for good-quality rimmed baking sheets than traditional cookware stores. Sur La Table has good examples, but they cost about twice as much as at the local hardware store in my town, for example. Try those sources first. You may have to buy your Silpat online -- Martha has them, but you may find a better price elsewhere on the 'net -- shop around.

                                  Ah the season of baking begins! Happy cookies!!

                                  Link: http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jht...

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Mrs. Smith
                                    c
                                    Caitlin Wheeler

                                    Mrs. Smith, have you tried superparchment? Cheaper and easier to store than silpat, but I wonder how it compares.

                                    1. re: Caitlin Wheeler

                                      You know Caitlin I'd never heard about it until you mentioned it (quelle surprise, with all the baking and cooking reading I do!). Where do you buy it, and why did you choose it instead of Silpat?

                                      1. re: Mrs. Smith
                                        c
                                        Caitlin Wheeler

                                        I buy it at most cooking stores (Cost Plus in So Cal last Christmas, Williams Sonoma is more expensive, Broadway Panhandler here in New York.) I bought it because a) it's cheap -- between $5 and $6 a sheet. b) My mother had some, and called it magic French baking thing, so when I moved away I bought some of the same stuff and c) it was before silpat was everywhere (I first bought it about 4 years ago) and I was happy with it so when I heard about Silpat I didn't want to change.

                                        I do however have a Silpat counter mat that I bought for rolling fondant for my wedding cake, and I love it because it's great for rolling out pie crusts and cookies without using extra flour and without sticking.

                                        1. re: Caitlin Wheeler

                                          Yes, the Silpat kneading/rolling mat is a great size and another irreplaceable tool that has greatly improved baking. I agree I wouldn't attempt rolled fondant without it (unless I had a marble countertop, I dare to dream), and I use it for everthing from pizza and bread dought to piecrust to homemade candy.

                                          So your superparchment has lasted for several years? That's definitely worth looking into -- if you've used it like a Silpat for years and it's only 5 bux rather than 20 or 30....Thanks for the tip.

                                          1. re: Mrs. Smith
                                            c
                                            Caitlin Wheeler

                                            Can the silpat rolling tool withstand the heat of homemade candy? I want to make some English toffee but would rather not have to butter/parchment a pan if I don't have to.

                                            1. re: Caitlin Wheeler

                                              I poured hot caramel directly onto it last Christmas with no ill effects. It was at the soft crack stage and there was no problem.

                                              I know for certain that the silpat baking mats can handle up to 500 degrees -- so it might be worth it to get one or two of those just for hot candy!

                                              1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                I did a search on Amazon housewares for Silpat and found what looked to be three different types of mat for use in the oven (not including the pastry mat) in two different sizes.

                                                Can someone explain the difference (if any) between the Silpat Cooking Mat, Silpat Baking Liner, and Silpat Baking Sheet? Or are these just different listings for the same product?

                                            2. re: Mrs. Smith

                                              Mrs. Smith:

                                              If you really want marble for pastry-making, you can get a good sized slab of it to lay on the counter when you need it. Forget the high-gloss stuff that kitchen equippers sell – they're usually so small as to be useless, and they're way too expensive, part of that expense coming from the polishing, which is unecessary or the purpose at hand.

                                              It may just be that I got lucky, living here in Vermont where some very fine marble is quarried, but I bought an unpolished slab, 20" x 20" x 1.25", for about $60.

                                              You might also haunt antique and salvage shops, where you can sometimes pick up an old marble commode top or some such.

                                              GG

                                              1. re: GG Mora

                                                The problem with a big hunk of marble like that is that it's heck of heavy and not really conducive to putting away and getting out frequently.

                                                And you'd have to back it with something: if it's finished only on one side it might scratch your counters, if it's finished on both sides it will slide around, and if it's finished on both sides and something gets between the marble and the counter top it will do both!

                                          2. re: Mrs. Smith

                                            I looked up some of the super parchment, and I would not use it in an oven. It is Teflon-coated. Teflon is NOT a good thing to heat up. Many years ago I had a parrot, and the knowledgeable parrot people told me not to let the bird in the kitchen when I was cooking with Teflon, since it could kill the bird. I ditched all my Teflon cookware right then and there. Lately it has come to light that there is some truth to that. Parrots are like the canary in the mine, since they are more sensitive than humans. Just fyi. I am a freak. I also haven't ever used any plastic in a microwave, no matter how "microwavable" the sales pitch is. Guess I'll have to scrub my cookie sheets.

                                      2. I'll be the renegade. I use the air cushion sheets with regular parchment paper.

                                        I tend to like crispy cookies and it's virtually impossible to burn the bottom of cookies on the air cushion sheet. And I like the parchment paper for the non-stick piece of things.

                                        I place my cookies on the parchment and slide the sheet under the parchment. When they come out of the oven, I slide the parchment (cookies and all) onto my granite counter to stop them cooking any further. Then I slip on a new sheet of parchment with cookies and the sheet goes back into the oven. I re-use the parchment for that day's baking, then toss it.

                                        1. I like the insulated pans. They really do help protect against burnt bottoms on cookies.

                                          1. I don't think anyone has mentioned the silicon cookie sheets specifically?
                                            We have 2 non-stick which are fine so fat (and don't use metal implements), but my GF used the silicon mat for the first time when baking eclaires. Worked great (over the baking tray). THere's no way anything can stick.

                                            For cookies, you might want them to be against the hotter metal I suppose, but I'm not sure.