Baking is often compared to alchemy, getting one ingredient even slightly out of balance can send your baked goods down the path to either greatness or ruin – choosing the right tin is part of this science too. Here’s a quick guide on the basic types of baking tins to help you get started, and to demystify some of the terms you frequently see in recipes.
As Mary Berry says “Different cakes require different tins, depending on the ingredients and how quickly you want the heat to get to the mix. Don’t assume that just because you’ve got an expensive tin it will be the right one for what you’re baking.” The size is always important too – using too big a pan for the recipe You should always read your recipe thoroughly and make sure you have the right pan before you start making your mixture!
Deep Cake Tins
Traditionally used for heavy fruit cakes, such as Christmas cakes and wedding cakes, the high sides allow the cake to rise fully whilst maintain its shape, and protecting the top of the cake from burning while the inside cooks through. Loose based tins allow for easy release whilst solid based ones will require careful lining. Available in round or square shapes.
Springform Cake Tins
A supremely versatile baking tin - these tins have a solid base and a removable upright side which unclips to reveal the cooked cake. Featuring lower sides than deep cake tins these tins are great for general baking such as light fruit cakes and sponges. Springforms are also the very best tins to use for cheesecakes and other set desserts as the sides will come away cleanly so you can serve your dessert in pristine condition! Usually round, springform tins are available in a large variety of sizes from mini 11cm (4”) ones up to 30cm (12”) diameter. You will occasionally find different shapes springforms such as the pretty heart shaped tin, but the round version is by far the most common.
Featuring shallow sides, sandwich tins are intended for making the sponge layers of Victoria sponges and other layered cakes and gateaux. The low sides allow maximum exposure of the cake mix to the heat of the oven for an even bake and rise combined with gentle browning. Many sandwich tins have loose bases for easy release. Remember to put a piece of buttered greaseproof paper into the bottom to prevent leakage. Some purists prefer solid based sandwich tins for this reason, but they must be well greased and lined. Sandwich tins used to feature an integral rotating cutter to help release the cake from the sides and base of the pan. The advent of superior modern non-stick coatings has made this type of tin redundant and they have disappeared from the market. Sandwich tins are generally round in shape, and are available in a standard or deep versions.
Fluted Flan Tins
The best way to create that classic quiche, tarte or flan shape, fluted tins have elegant wavy edge detail to shape the pastry case. Traditionally fine flutes are considered proper for sweet recipes whilst broad flutes are better suited to savouries. Available in non-stick coated steel, tinned steel and anodised aluminium. Purists believe that aluminium flan tins are the best way to prevent your pastry from getting a soggy bottom. Flan dishes are also available in ceramic, but the flan must be served in the dish, as it would be impossible to successfully turn it out whole for serving. Most metal flan tins are round and feature loose bottoms for easy release without damaging delicate pastry cases. A wide variety of shapes and sizes are available from mini tartlets up to family sized giants. Other, more unusual shapes are available, such as the rectangular models, sometimes known as ‘tranche tins’ or ‘Tarte Maison’ tins.
As the name suggests, loaf tins are used for baking bread, tea loaves and long fruit cakes. Loaf tins are commonly defined by how many pounds of bread dough they hold. For keen bakers Steamer Trading can supply loaf tins from little mini loaf pans, right up to four pounds in size! Two varieties of loaf tins exist: pressed tins have rounded corners and edges whilst folded tins have sharp creased ones. Loaf tins are generally metal – either non-stick coated or anodised aluminium, but they are also available in silicone.
Rectangular pans with straight sides of 3-5cm are known as Brownie pans, or occasionally ‘traybakes’. They are great pans for all sorts of shortbreads, flapjacks and brownies and come in all materials including silicone. The majority have solid bottoms but there are some models available with slide-out bases for really easy release. Remember never to cut anything in your baking pans: if it is non-stick you will scratch the surface and damage the coating, in a silicone pan you are almost certain to cut through the bottom! Wait for your bake to cool down then turn out onto a board or cooling rack before cutting. Not just for cakes either, these are versatile general oven pans and are great for all kinds of oven cooking and roasting too.
Similar to Brownie Pans but with shallower sides or sometimes no sides at all (also known as a Cookie Sheet)! Baking trays are great for meringues and big flat sponges for rolling into Swiss rolls & roulades, Cookie sheets are perfect when you don’t need to contain your mixture in a set form, and you are confident that the mixture won’t spill off the sheet! . The lower, or missing, sides allow the heat of the oven to cook the contents quickly and evenly. The low sides also make it easier to remove baked biscuits from the sheet, when they are just out of the oven and very delicate. Again, this is another very versatile baking and general cooking pan – perfect for all kinds of oven cooking and roasting.
Muffin or Cupcake Tins
When is a Muffin a cupcake? And when does that become a fairy cake? There’s a huge amount of controversy over the differences between cupcakes, muffins and fairy cakes! It seems that size and the quantity of decoration are the main determining factors. Whichever variety you want to make, there’s a tin for you. Most come in six or twelve hole variants and a variety of materials including silicone. Non-stick coated versions are the best sellers but as most muffins and cupcakes are served in paper cases, sticking isn’t a major problem. Silicone muffin ‘tins’ also make great individual dessert moulds! Fill them with soft ice cream, cover and freeze, or fill with jelly for elegant single dessert portions.
There’s a huge variety of creative bakeware available at Steamer Trading, why not try something unusual?
Game Pie Moulds: Homemade is always best and if you’ve never tried making your own game pies then you’re missing out. Oval in shape and taller than other types of tin to allow plenty of room for the pastry, filling and plenty of jelly. Available in silver anodised aluminium with removable sides.
Tiffins: Shaped like a bell, these tins are also known as ‘crinoline ladies’ and are perfect for little girls' birthday parties. Carefully grease the tin and bake a sponge or fruit cake inside. Turn the cake out and once it has cooled, wrap the lower portions of a Barbie doll in cling film and inset her into the top of the cake. You can use as many colours as you like, piping buttercream ‘crinoline’ onto her skirt!
Madeleine: Some suggest that these pretty little cakes inspired Marcel Proust to write A la Recherché du Temps Perdu. We can’t promise that they’ll have the same effect on everyone, but why not give it a try. Available in non-stick coated steel for easy release. Buttery, light little treats that will keep you coming back for more!
Dariole, Charlotte & Mini Pudding Moulds: A traditional dariole was a small puff pastry custard tart with tall sides, but today this type of mould is most commonly used for small sponges and chocolate fondant puddings. Available in stainless steel or silver anodised aluminium.