It's that time of year again... The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens inspiring us all to get in the kitchen a rustle up a victoria sponge whilst doing our best impression of Paul Hollywood. If you are starting from scratch knowing which piece of bakeware you need from the tins to mixers to proving baskets, we have it all. Today we wanted to start at the beginning and guide you through the different types of bakeware materials available and what best suits your needs.
At Steamer we like to cover as many preferences and options as possible from traditional tinned steel, right through to cutting-edge silicone bakeware. As with everything baking, choosing the right pan for the job is essential, each material has its pros and cons – here’s a quick reference breakdown to get you started.
The material that gives the cake ‘tin’ its name. Tin bakeware is light and good conductor of heat. This allows for even baking of cakes and pastries, however it has been largely superseded by other materials on the market so it is difficult to find pure tin bakeware.
Coating steel cookware in a layer of tin combines the strength of steel with the easy release properties of tin. This is considered to be a very old school method of producing bakeware, however it does have some considerable virtues. The tin coating can be very durable while the strength of steel allows complicated shapes to be manufactured. Sadly tin coatings will wear away in time leaving the bakeware prone to rusting. Hand washing and careful drying will increase the lifespan of this type of cookware. As there's no non-stick coating on tinned steel cookware we recommend that you butter the tin before each use to guarantee that your pastry comes cleanly away.
Our top tip is to refrigerate the tin for ten minutes once you have buttered it - this sets the butter in place and makes it more effective at releasing the quiche when cooked. With use the tin will develop a light layer of seasoning with use which will improve the ease with which food comes away from the surface – do not scrub this layer off when cleaning, it is a good thing!
Durable and shiny, stainless steel would appear to be an ideal material for bakeware. Unfortunately it is a very poor conductor of heat, meaning that cakes and pastries will be prone to soggy bottoms or burnt edges and sunken centres. Food will stick to stainless steel, making careful greasing and lining essential when using stainless steel bakeware. Thankfully it is easy to clean in the dishwasher.
Non-stick cake tins have been the salvation of many a home baker! They combine the strength and durability of a steel tin with the easy release properties of the best non-stick cookware. Non-stick cake tins and baking sheets rarely experience the same high levels of wear as coated frying pans, consequently their coatings can be very long lived. Coated steel cookware is very suitable for deep tins and loaf tins where an even temperature is required to cook heavier cake batters and doughs for long periods. Some sponge specialists claim that heavy steel bakeware is not responsive enough to heat to make perfect sponges. They prefer lighter weight coated steel tins for this reason.
Considered to be the top flight option by many bakers, aluminium bakeware is strong, durable and conductive and allows easy release and cleaning. To prevent any discolouring or tainting of the food and to increase its ease of release modern aluminium bakeware undergoes a process of anodising. Silver anodising creates a smooth, easy to clean finish which effectively locks in the aluminium core. The more intense process of hard anodising builds a thick strong layer of oxide on the surface of the item making it suitable for heavy use. The high conductivity of aluminium makes this material a favourite with bakers wanting the highest levels of performance and control. The strength of the material makes it suitable for everything from the largest cake tins to minutely detailed moulds. We recommend that aluminium bakeware should always be hand washed. Brands such as Silverwood are renowned for their quality and wide range of tins.
Flexible silicone bakeware originated in the commercial patisserie world. Its easy release properties made it suitable for turning out large numbers of small baked delicacies. Many people are uneasy with using a ‘plastic’ cake tin, but fear not! Silicone is heat resistant to over 300 Celsius making it suitable for use in even the hottest oven. The silicone used in bakeware is extremely thin which allows it to conduct heat rapidly and evenly. It has a smooth shiny interior which prevents cake mixes from sticking and allows for very easy release. Silicone cookware can be moulded into a huge number of specialist shapes. Larger ‘tins’ or muffin sheets may have strong metal rims to allow the filled pan to be carried to the oven when full of runny cake mixture. You can use silicone bakeware in the fridge or freezer to create delicately shaped mousses and frozen desserts. Silicone bakeware cleans extremely well in the dishwasher and can be rolled up and stored in a jar when not in use.
Stoneware and porcelain conduct heat slowly and evenly making them the perfect materials for any recipe that requires long gentle cooking. Perfect for pie dishes as the steady transfer of heat allows the filling to cook without burning the crust.
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