Choosing a Baking Pan

There is very little "wiggle room" in baking! Always use the baking pan size specified in each recipe. The wrong size baking pan may cause your creation to overflow, burn around the edges and bottom, or sink in the middle.

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Here are some cake recipes from our collection:

Read the recipe carefully to make sure you have the type of baking pan that is called for. You also should be aware of the baking pan material, because it can affect the outcome. In general, glass baking dishes require a 25-degree
reduction in oven temperature. Some recipes
may actually specify which material, metal or glass, will get the best results.

Often, you can determine what type of baking
pan and what material will work best by carefully noting the description used in the recipe method. These general definitions usually apply:

  • A baking dish is a glass utensil.

  • A baking pan is a metal utensil.

  • A pie plate is usually glass.

  • A pie pan is usually metal.

  • A baking sheet is a sided pan (15 x 10 x 1 inch); sometimes called a half sheet pan.

  • A cookie sheet has no sides and is used for cookies only.

  • A springform pan features two pieces: a bottom and a rim with a buckle for releasing cakes or tarts.

  • A tube pan is a deep, round metal pan with a hollow center tube.

  • A Bundt® pan is a shallow tube pan that is curved and fluted for baking a specific style of cake.

  • A tart pan is usually metal. Unlike a pie pan, it has straight sides (some fluted, some not) and many have a removable bottom.

  • A silicone baking pan -- the newest type -- is made of highly flexible polymer. The material is non-stick; can withstand oven temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit; and is safe for use in the freezer, microwave, and dishwasher.

Once you're sure you have the right baking pan, it is important to prepare it properly. Read on to find out how.

Preparing Baking Pans

Some cakes require greasing and flouring the baking pan and some call for using parchment or waxed paper. To assure the best results from every baking recipe, always prepare baking pans as instructed in the recipe or in the manufacturers' directions. Common preparation steps include:

Greasing a baking pan: Use a pastry brush, paper towel, waxed paper, or fingertips to apply a thin, even layer of butter, margarine, or shortening to bottom and sides of the baking pan, as directed. As an alternative, coat the baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Softening shortening, butter, or margarine slightly in the microwave will make it easier to use a pastry brush.
Softening shortening, butter, or
margarine slightly in the microwave
makes it easier to use a pastry brush.

Greasing and flouring a baking pan: Use a pastry brush, paper towel, or waxed paper to apply a thin, even layer of butter, margarine, or shortening to bottom and sides of the baking pan, as directed. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons flour to each baking pan. Tilt the baking pan slightly. Gently tap and rotate the pan until bottom and sides are evenly coated with flour. Invert the baking pan and tap bottom gently to remove excess flour.

Gently tapping the sides of the greased baking pan helps distribute the flour.
Gently tapping the sides of the greased
baking pan helps distribute the flour.

TIP: When a recipe for chocolate cakes calls for greasing and flouring the baking pan, use cocoa powder instead of flour. No more white spots on the surface of the baked cake!

Lining a baking pan with paper: Invert baking pan; place a sheet of parchment (or waxed paper) on top. Press all around the edge of the baking pan to form a crease in the paper. Cut out the paper along the crease. Grease the baking pan, but do not flour it. (Coating the bottom with non-stick cooking spray is another option.) Press the paper into the bottom of the greased baking pan. Continue with the recipe, greasing and flouring the paper if so directed.

Use fingertips to press paper firmly around bottom edge of the baking pan and make a crease.
Use fingertips to press paper firmly
around bottom edge of the baking pan
and make a crease.

Preparing a springform pan: Tear off a piece of heavy-duty foil that is at least 2 inches larger than the pan, all the way around. Line the bottom section of the pan with foil, tucking the edges under the bottom. Attach the rim, making sure it fits securely in the groove around the edge of the bottom. Untuck the excess foil and bring it up around the side of the pan; trim if necessary. Grease the foil-lined bottom and side of pan.

All springform pans leak a little bit. Wrapping with foil prevents the batter from spilling out.
All springform pans leak a little bit.
Wrapping with foil prevents the
batter from spilling out.
A Bundt® pan: To prevent sticking, be sure all the creases and flutes of the pan are well greased (and floured, if recipe calls for it) before pouring in the batter.

A pastry brush works well for greasing all the creases and curves of a Bundt® pan.
A pastry brush works well for
greasing all the creases and
curves of a Bundt® pan.

Now that you've got the right baking pan and it's perfectly prepared, you are ready to start baking! Learn all about cake baking on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Cake Recipes: Find basic cake recipes as well as ideas for types of cakes you may have never even heard of, all on our Cake Recipes page.
  • Cake Decorating: Whether you just want to add "Happy Birthday" in piped icing or are ready to attempt a field of frosting flowers, this article will provide the cake decorating tips you need.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.