A complete kitchen needs a good set of bakeware. The right kitchen bakeware lets you create delicious desserts and culinary confections sure to please even the pickiest eaters. As you shop, you'll want to know some information about the different materials, so you get the best bakeware for the types of treats you like to make most.
Aluminum: Aluminum bakeware heats evenly, so your cookies and other baked goods will brown consistently. When choosing aluminum bakeware, look for a heavy gauge to counteract the bendable nature of aluminum and a nonstick coating to make clean up a snap. Some people are concerned about the safety of aluminum, but if you are careful, you can avoid problems.
Never put acidic food, like tomato sauce or salad dressing, in aluminum bakeware, as the acid can leach chemicals from the metal.
Use only wood or plastic utensils. Never use a metal knife to cut a pie baked in an aluminum pan. Metal utensils can scratch the aluminum and release chemicals. If your aluminum pans do get scratched, toss them out and replace them.
Don't store food in aluminum bakeware.
If you are concerned about the chemicals in aluminum, you can line your baking pans with unbleached parchment paper or use unbleached baking cups.
Glass: Ovenproof glass bakeware is ideal for baking casseroles. Clear glass allows you to keep an eye on your food's progress as it cooks. Since glass is somewhat lacking in the ability to conduct heat, cooking in it will prevent your food from browning. Glass bakeware is often dishwasher safe; keep that in mind while shopping if washing dishes is low on your list of favorite activities.
Ceramic: Known for being colorful and decorative, ceramic bakeware is a kitchen staple. Much ceramic bakeware can go straight from the oven to your table, saving you the step of transferring food from baking dish to serving dish. But ceramic bakeware is more than just pretty. It is naturally resistant to flavor and odor absorption and discoloration from food. Older pieces may contain lead, so it's best not to use vintage ceramic dishes, even if they are beautiful. New ceramic bakeware pieces are made to be safe.
Silicone: All bakers have had the experience of baked goods sticking to the pan; silicone bakeware helps prevent that from happening. It is designed for easy separation from your baked goods and provides even heat distribution for perfectly baked cookies, muffins, breads, and more. Silicone bakeware has the added advantage of being flavor- and odor-resistant, so your baked items are always fresh. Since it's easily wiped down and often dishwasher safe, silicone is a popular choice with cooks of all skill levels.
Insulated metal: Found most commonly in cookie sheets, insulated metal bakeware consists of two layers of metal with a layer of air in the center. The internal layer of air heats up and encourages consistent browning without burning. These are perfect for delicate baked goods, like thin cookies or shortbread.