Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Absolute Beginners Guide to Learning How To Cook for Survival: Part 8 Bakeware

Baking is the most complex part of cooking, combining physics, chemistry and often biology.
Baking often involves a specialize pan of some kind or other. Do you need all these pans? Probably not. Bread has been baked freeform for millennia. Pies made without a pan are called a galette. Though a good casserole is great for many things, a round one will also work as a soufflé pan. And a half-sheet pan is amazingly versatile from making sheet cakes to cookies and acting as a tray.

Most recipes expect a matte metal pan usually aluminum. If you are using a dark or glass pan reducing the heat by 25°F helps brown things at the right time. A shiny metal pan would reflect heat increasing the heat by 25°F would keep the cooking time the same. If you are at high altitude reducing the heat by 25° helps protein structures set on time. 

  • A covered roasting pan, after the end of the world getting aluminum foil may be hard to get to cover things for steam roasting.
  • Pie plate, I like glass for even browning. Get three (corn starch, egg, coating) for doing coatings for deep fried foods.
  • Cake pan, matte rolled-aluminum for even heating.
  • Casserole, ceramic so you can't see inside, round or oval to eliminate dry corners.
  • Ramekins, for individual desserts like creme brulee and organizing ingredients. 
  • SoufflĂ© pan, optional, a round ceramic casserole will work but a good way to use up eggs.
  • Loaf pan, for breads and meat loaf.
  • Rectangular 9x13 pan, for brownies, lasagna and cakes. I like glass and folded metal with sharp corners.
  • Square 8x8 or 9x9 pan, see 9x13 pan.
  • Sheet pan (in half size) or jelly roll pan. Matte, rolled aluminum is remarkably useful as a cookie sheet, sheet cakes, and even as a tray.
  • Cookie sheet, I don't like them since they tend to warp. 
  • Bundt cake pan or Tube pan, Angel food cake pan, optional
  • Springform pan, mainly for cheesecakes and they tend to leak, a cake pan is better.
  • Tart pan, a variation on the pie pan with a pop out bottom making it easier to remove.
  • Muffin pan and Popover pan, optional
  • Pizza pan and deep dish pizza pan, I like to use a perforated one on the grill instead of one of those  speciality grill top pans.