by Jessica Gezon
Baking is one of the most satisfying kitchen activities, and the right bakeware can make the experience even better. Choosing the right bakeware for your baking needs is a step in the right direction, and properly caring for your bakeware once you have it will make sure you always have bakeware on hand.
Buy basic bakeware: The quantity and variety of bakeware you need depends entirely on how elaborate your baking plans are. A basic bakeware setup should include at least one cake pan, two in matching sizes if you plan to bake a layer cake. For bread bakers, a loaf pan is essential; the high sides help create a uniform crust and allow the bread to rise as it bakes. A cookie sheet is a staple in any kitchen; cookies sheets are good not only for baking cookies, but also for dinner rolls, croissants and sweet rolls. Rounding out the bare necessities are a cupcake or muffin pan and a casserole dish. Muffin tins and cupcake pans, while similar, are not identical. For true connoisseurs, one of each is a sound investment, but for casual bakers, they can be used interchangeably. A casserole dish is the final item you need to get started. Rectangular and not too deep, a casserole dish allows you to create hot meals with a minimum of fuss, and many can go directly from the oven to the table.
Indulge in supplemental bakeware: Once you have the bakeware basics, you might find yourself craving more specialized baking equipment. Expand your bakeware collection to include cake pans in two shapes, like square and round. You can experiment with bread pans of different sizes; personal-size loaves of bread are a delight at breakfast, and mini dessert breads can be tucked into lunches as a special treat. There are also Bundt pans, popover pans, pizza stones and more specialized pans to make baking even more fun.
Treat your bakeware correctly: Bakeware, like other pots and pans, comes in a variety of materials and finishes. If you have nonstick bakeware, it's a good idea to use non-metal utensils to avoid scratching and damaging the finish. When washing your bakeware, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Stainless steel cookware can be washed in a dishwasher but may lose its glossy finish, and abrasive cleaners should never be used on nonstick cookware.
Have the right bakeware accessories: Having the right tools in addition to the proper pan for your baking project will help ensure that the experience is a good one. Things like spatulas, cupcake liners, plastic or silicone whisks, wooden spoons, utensils safe for nonstick bakeware, mixing bowls in various sizes and a cooling rack will help your project move fluidly from start to finish.