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Jun 16, 2007 03:43 PM

Essential Bakeware

I love desserts and baking but I'm embarrassed to admit that my bakeware selection is extremely limited. Currently I own a square and loaf pyrex, a muffin tin, and 2 cookie sheets. With Amazon's 4 for 3 sale, I'm looking to buy some more baking pans but I'm not sure what's useful and what's unnecessary. So I'm wondering if chowhounders can offer some suggestions about bakeware. I usually only bake half a recipe because a whole recipe is too much.

Things I'm looking to buy:
- Mini tart pans. It seems like the concensus is the light surface is better than dark nonstick surfaces that browns too quickly.

- Springform
I'm wondering if it's possible to bake say, an entire cake batter in the springform, then cut the cake in half rather than baking it in 2 cake pans. I don't see myself baking many cakes in the future so I'm skipping buying a set of cake pans.

- Xlarge muffin pan
Similiarly, another idea I had about cakes was bake some large cupcakes, cut off the dome, turn them upside down, cut the cake into 2 or 3 slices, then frost and fill it like a regular cake and make small mini cakes. I wonder if these can also bake mini angel food cakes.

- Angel food cake pan
Unless there's another way to bake angel food cake.

Mini Muffin Tins
- Are these really that useful for anything other than mini muffins, they look awfully cute.

Pastry decorating kit
- Any specific brands or things I should look for?

Are there any really important pans that I'm overlooking?

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  1. I would say you should have a couple of 9x13x2 pans. The reason I say "a couple" is because a couple weeks ago I was trying to cook in my sister's kitchen; she's not really much of a cook and sort of has the bare essentials. She has one 9x13 pan, and when i started cooking it was in the refrigerator with potatoes in it from the night before. I wanted to make a pan of brownies before I started on the lasagna I was going to fix for supper. Needed a 9x13 for both these things, and her one and only one was in use. It wasn't a big deal to get the potatoes into another container and wash the pan, but then I had to get the brownies out of the pan before they were cool, which made a bit of a mess of them, and wash the pan AGAIN before I could make the lasagna. (The 9x13 was the only pan in her kitchen that would work for any of these things--like I said, she only has the barest essentials.)

    In my own kitchen I have three of these, plus several Pyrex casseroles, about five loaf pans, an angel food pan, a bundt pan, two REALLY OLD teflon-coated muffin tins, two regular cake pans plus a springform, several pie pans, SIX cookie sheets, the baking tray out of a toaster oven I got rid of years ago, a couple of 9" square pyrex pans, and a couple of 6" square mini-casseroles. A lot of this stuff is hand-me-downs, but I use a whole lot more of it than you'd think.

    1. It comes down to what you do. I use things like a tart pan with a removeable bottom, bundt pan, pyrex pie pan, madeleine tins fairly often. But, they might be completely unused in your kitchen. I use my 8" and 9" cake pans pretty often, in addition to a springform pan. Rarely use my mini muffin tins, or even the giant tins. I only use the mini ones for making mini quiche and I can't remember the last time I made them. Not sure if you consider this in the same category but what about a good quality roasting pan? I've never wished I had mini tart pans but I use my little ramekins all the time. As pastry decorating kits go, Wilton products are fairly inexpensive and mine, except for the bags, have lasted 15 years. You can buy better quality bags or you can fold your own parchment paper if you don't use them often but the less expensive Wilton bags serve its purpose. If you've never used them before, I'd start w/ the shape like a large asterisk--you can do the basic scrolls, fill cupcakes/cream puffs/deviled eggs with it. Since you only have 2 cookie sheets, maybe 4 silpat mats. You can have two in the oven and be filling the other two at the same time and just switch the mats and not have to clean the cookie sheet in between.

      1. Right now I rarely use my 9x13 since I cook for 2. I use my 8x8 a lot though.

        I'm definitely going to buy a springform and some tart pans (not sure about the size yet). I'm still undecided about the cake pans and the xlarge and mini muffin pan. I've ruled out the tube pan.

        I originally intended to buy the mini muffin pan for small hors d'oeuvres (like proscuitto cups) cookies and candies.

        Thanks for the advice, I'll look into getting those other products too like the silpats. Right now I have to pick and choose what pans I really need since I have a beginner's kitchen and I'm also short on space.