Holiday Bakeware Essentials
Well, with the holidays fast approaching, it's time to make sure that your kitchen is stocked with all of the essential tools you'll need to bake up some delicious treats. Here's a helpful guide that breaks down all of your basic holiday bakeware tools and what you can use each piece for. From Christmas cookies and pies, to cakes and dinner rolls - you'll be baking up a storm in no time!
Cookie Sheets: Christmas cookies are one of my favorite holiday treats to bake! It's generally a good idea to have at least a couple of cookie sheets in your kitchen, especially if you are expecting out of town guests. I recommend some kind of heavy duty cookie sheet with a nonstick surface. A nonstick surface just makes it easier to remove the cookies from the tray. You might be surprised to learn that the color of your baking sheet can affect the overall baking performance, conducting heat different depending on the color. A nice medium gray-silver colored cookie sheet will help ensure that your cookies come out of the oven with a nice golden brown color. Look for baking sheets made out of some kind of steel, either carbon steel or aluminized steel. Depending on how much baking you do, you might want a couple of different cookie sheets of varying sizes. Baking sheets aren't just good for cookies - you can also bake up some delicious dinner rolls.
Pie Pans: While you can bake a pie any time of the year, a nice pumpkin or cherry pie is especially festive at a holiday gathering. I recommend purchasing a stoneware or clay pie pan, as these work best for when freezing, baking, serving and reheating your pies. Finding a versatile pie pan that's both freezer safe and microwave safe is a huge plus, allowing you to bake and save for later. I also like that many pie pans come in a variety of colors, making it easier to match with the rest of your Christmas dinnerware. A basic Pyrex pie pan works well too, despite its plain appearance. The specially treated glass browns pie crusts perfectly and the pan retains heat very efficiently. Another good thing about baking with glass is that, unlike aluminum, glass will not react with the acidic fruit fillings to create off flavors. There's also something to be said for your average metal pie pan, which are so easy to stack and store. It's a good idea to buy a heavy, dark metal pie pan, as this will absorb more heat and brown your pie crust better than a shiny, reflective metal.
Spring Forms: Spring forms are important to have around for baking more delicate deserts like cheese cakes, and tortes. Spring forms allow for an easy transfer from the pan to the serving plate. Choosing a sturdy, heavy duty spring form pan is especially important when baking something with a runny filling. Many spring forms are designed to be leak-proof which eliminates unnecessary mess in your oven, holding all of the ingredients inside the pan. I recommend a spring form made from a nonstick, commercial-weight steel of some kind which provides a more even heat distribution. Make sure that the side grips fit your hands, as there's nothing worse than wasting a desert by dropping it on the floor. Spring forms come in all shapes and sizes and can be used for everything from bread, brownies, blondies - you just have to make sure that your spring form has a leak-proof design, or otherwise line the bottom in aluminum foil to prevent a big mess.
These three items are essential for holiday baking. A couple of other good items to have around are muffin pans, which are good for making cupcakes and muffins. If you don't have cookie cutters already, these are a great way to get the kids involved in the holiday baking process. Decorating Christmas cookies is always a fun activity where you can let your imagination run wild! Now, I hope that all this talk about holiday baking has got you thinking about the holidays, even though it's only November. Don't get out your best Christmas dinnerware quite yet, but definitely start thinking about what you want to bake!