What Color is Your Baking Pan?

round cake tin stack

Image courtesy of Cooks & Kitchens on flickr.com

When baking, you may find that your results seem quite different than those of the recipe developer. They describe a light, evenly-colored cookie but yours is light on top and dark on the bottom. Or your cake may look the right color but it is undercooked on the inside. Don’t despair. One possible fix is the type of pan you use. The color and material of the pan may not seem important, but they can have an impact on your baked goods.

In the Sweet Kitchen explains that “some materials conduct heat, others reflect it – each of the properties will affect your product differently. In general, shiny or pale materials reflect heat and will produce … lighter-colored pastries… (Using dark or non-stick pans) means your products will bake faster on the bottom and sides, perhaps burning until the middle is done.”

Non-stick cookie sheets are nice for clean-up but can be unreliable for the actual baking. Unless you have a pan with a light-colored non-stick coating, they aren’t the best choice because they bake unevenly. But King Arthur Flour’s website says you don’t need to get rid of your non-stick cookie sheets. “If you already have a dark-colored, non-stick cookie sheet, and it tends to burn the bottoms of your cookies, reduce the oven temperature by 25°F.”

I have used the Williams-Sonoma Nonstick Goldtouch Pans as recommended by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. The surface is light-colored and, unlike most non-stick bakeware, fairly scratch resistant. Regan Daley of In the Sweet Kitchen says that, “lighter-coloured non-stick pans are much more durable, as the finish is part of the material of the pan, not simply a coating.” They are nice to bake with when you need a cake to release easily for a picture-perfect treat.

Because dark pans retain heat, they can help a pie baker. “Dark-colored metal pie pans … transfer heat better … (and) brown crust more quickly … However, most pie pans will brown a crust thoroughly, given enough time; (just) cover the pie’s exposed edges with a crust shield to prevent burning.” Good advice from King Arthur Flour.

You don’t have to rush out and buy all new pans, but reread this article next time you are looking to purchase a bake pan.

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