Building Your Baking Kitchen Part I- The Baking Pans and Dishes You’ll Need

Building Your Baking KitchenI am going to begin this series of posts  with a list of baking pans and dishes I believe are necessary for basic baking. You don’t need to have everything at once, This is just a list  to keep on hand, or one to refer back to when and if you begin to build your own bakers kitchen, or if perhaps you are ready to do some upgrading. I know, you are probably wondering why I am referring to all of your baking supplies as your “Baking Kitchen”; my Grandmother teased me when I was younger, because I literally took notes when she was baking about what I would need to be the incredible  baker she was.  I literally asked her what every single tool she used was named, what it did and where I could buy it.  She laughingly joked that I was already planning on building my own baking kitchen,  and she was right, I was!

I really found building my own baking kitchen so rewarding. Obviously I had to begin by purchasing the best equipment I could reasonably afford, which at times wasn’t much but I had to start somewhere.  Oddly enough, I found some of my favorite  pans at estate sales and flea markets back then. I didn’t always make great purchases,  and learned many lessons, had many minor disasters for reasons I simply could not figure out.  I had always tried to follow baking recipes with kitchen ninja-like precision, yet my cakes would dome, my muffins would look beautifully golden but take one bite and you’d get a mouthful of warm batter, and oh how many cookie bottoms I burned. But I carried on, one new pan or tool at a time; the hunt was always on.

The joy of actually finding that perfect baking pan was well worth all of my baking failures, and the tried and true pans that were handed down to me by both of my Grandmothers might as well have been a million-dollar inheritance to me (okay, that’s not exactly true), but let’s just say they were and still remain pretty priceless to me.

Considering the internet was still in the AOL days and Google wasn’t even a blip on the radar, researching equipment meant going to stores and basically interrogating sales people; then subsequently trying to escape without buying something until I knew it was the right piece of equipment for me.

So here we are.  To assist you in building your baking “arsenal” (the name my children have dubbed the plethora of pans, tools, electrical gadgets and ingredients I have on hand at all times for baking), I will begin by posting “Building Your Baking Kitchen Part I – Baking Pans and Dishes”.

Please note: the sheer number of size variations for the many types, shapes, and brands of baking pan you will ever purchase is enormous. Due to that very fact, I have tried to give you an average of the standard sizes of the more basic pans.

It is also important before you purchase a pan that you give HUGE consideration to the size of your oven.  You will hear this from me throughout my blog; there should always be without fail, 2 inches of open oven space around all sides of your baking pan(s) to ensure the success of your baking. I simply cannot stress the importance of this fact enough. When I began baking, if I had my now ever-present cell phone to take photo proof of the monstrosities I created early on, oblivious to the above fact, I would need no words. It wasn’t pretty.

One other important tip I will offer is to purchase an inexpensive oven thermometer designed to hang on the rack rails inside your oven. It will ensure that if your oven says it has preheated to 350°, it is not really 375°. Once you understand the quirks of your oven, you will be better prepared moving forward with your baking.

I will begin by listing the baking pans that I feel are good to have on hand. Then below the list, I will give specifications, recommendations and tips that should help in the event you are ready to purchase, upgrade or eventually own new baking pans.  Some information will also be pertinent to the pans you may already own.  Obviously, you will know what type of baking you usually do, or want to do so this list is more suggestions than anything. Not every baker needs a tart pan. (But I might just talk you into one in the future. Who knows?)

Here we GO…….

Quantity Pan/Dish(s) Tip(s)
1 Bundt Pan or Tube Pan Both if you can manage
2 to 4 Cookie/Baking Sheets  
1 Jelly Roll/Half Sheet Pan  
2 to 4 Layer Cake Pans 8 or 9 inch (2 each) if you can manage w/ no seams
1 Sheet-cake Pan w/no seams
2 Loaf Pans 9 x 5 x3 -inch and/or w/no seams
2 Loaf Pans 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ w/no seams
4 to 5 Mini-Loaf Pans w/no seams
1 to 2 Square Baking Pans/Dish  w/no seams
2 or more Muffin/Cupcake pans I recommend 12 cup pans. You may read details below.
1 or more Mini-Muffin Pans 24 cup pan
1 Standard Pie Plate  
1 Deep Dish Pie Plate/Dish  
1 Springform Pan You can purchase a trio, nesting set very inexpensively
1 Tart Pan Make sure it has a removable bottom
2 Round Cooling Racks  
  Rectangular Cooling Racks The number is up to you. I have a ton, but I bake in large batches.
  Parchment Paper  This is available in rolls or 12 x 16 flat sheets

Before purchasing any baking pans please see my “Shiny, Dull, Dark” Post. This is also something you must take into account before you make a decision on baking pans

1          Bundt (10 ½. x 3 ¾ + – inch which is about a 12 to 15 cups capacity) or

1          Tube pan (around 10 x 10 – inch which is about a 12 to 16 cup capacity)

The beauty of a Bundt pan is in the design and there are sooo many designs. Originally from Nordicware Basic Bundt PanFrance and Germany, they have rich history, and you’ll feel that when you find a Bundt pan you love. The usual one-piece tube-type pan* is curved inwards at the bottom and fluted (which simply means it has decorative edges and grooves). The idea is when you turn your delicious cake out, it will be gorgeous even before any frosting or glazing.

A regular *tube-pan can be substituted for your Bundt pan. Though I recommend having both. The shape of a tube pan is similar to a store bought angel-food cake. Nothing decorative, but it will not deter you from baking a delicious tasting cake. Some tube pans come in two pieces with little legs to stand on, once the bottom is released for an easy turnout of your cake.

These pans come in 6-cup to 16-cup sizes at regular stores. I recommend a 9- cup pan (about 9 ½-in x 3-in.) if you are just beginning to bake these type of cakes or just want one for future use. (Note: I love NordicWare® Bundt pans, and you will be amazed at how many designs they have!)

2          Cookie sheets/Baking Sheets (10 x 15- inch** is the norm.)

Obviously this pan is not just used for baking cookies however you need to buy them with cookies in mind.  These pans are flat usually with no sides or smaller sides: some even come with just three sides and one without an edge to easily slide your cookies off the pan.Cookie Sheet with ridge free sides

Refer to my “The Many Types of Bakeware” post if you are purchasing these pans now or plan to in the near future; it will help you decide on the perfect pan for your baking needs.

I personally prefer to have four of these, that way in the event I am preparing a large batch, when two come out of the oven to cool, I can pop two more right in. Easy-peasy.

**Size Rule of Thumb: Do not just go out and purchase a standard size pan, you must keep in mind the size of your oven. A good rule of thumb is to buy pans where you will have at least two inches of open oven space on all sides of your pan.

1          Jelly-roll pan/Half-Sheet Pan (18 x 12 x 1- inch is the norm)

Solely based on the name, you might think this was a pan you wouldn’t need: nope, you need it! To be honest I’ve never made a jelly-roll cake in my life, despite that this pan is a must-have. I’vejelly roll pan/ half sheet pan used mine for biscuits, dinner rolls, some yeast breads, sweet rolls/pastries, puff pastry desserts and appetizers, even candy making. Another plus to this versatile pan is you can turn it upside down and use it for a cookie sheet.

This is a rectangular pan with approx. ¾ to 1” in. sides. These also vary in available sizes, that is why I’ve stated the standard size(s) above. Remember when purchasing my “size rule of thumb” (mentioned above**) before purchasing.

NOTE:  Again, do not just go out and purchase a standard size pan, you must keep in mind the size of your oven. A good rule of thumb is to buy pans where you will have at least two inches of open oven space on all sides of your pan.

2 to 4  Layer cake pans 8- inch or 9 -inch (rounds without seams)

This is where you should spend a little extra money. My advice is to have a set of 8 -in. rounds Standard 9 In. Layer cake roundand a set of 9-in. rounds (depending on the depth of the pan, these can hold 4 to 8 cups of batter. At a minimum you should buy pans with a depth of 1 ½ to 2 ½ -in minimum and make sure they are seamless inside. These pans   are not just for cakes, I use mine for sticky buns, pan cookies etc. (I personally only buy Wilton® Cake pans; and considering the fact their entire business is cakes; I’ve obviously never been disappointed. That said there are some incredible brands of cake pans out there.) Look for my “Baking Equipment- Brands to Love” post(s), coming soon.

1           Sheet-cake Pan (13 x 9 x 2- inch is the standard)

My “Everything Pan”, (cue angelic choir and bright light from the sky), seriously this pan is Standard 13 x 9 Sheetcake panprobably the most used in my kitchen. Because it is great for cooking as well as baking, I suggest spending some extra money here. These are available in metal, ceramic and glass. The Sheet-cake pan can be used for a one-layer cake, a larger batch of brownies, bar cookies, etc…  If this pan had a middle name it would be “Multi-Purpose”.   You might even consider buying two. ijs

1 to 2    Square Baking Dish(s) or Pan(s) *8 x 8- inch or 9 x 9- inch- without seams if metal)

This pan is 8-in. x 8-in. and should be at least 2 inches deep and is definitely another must-havedull finish square baking dish If you bake brownies, (who doesn’t bake brownies?), bar desserts, cobblers, and fruit crisps etc. you will need this pan! They are available in non-stick aluminum, aluminum, ceramic, and glass. If you opt for a glass pan, it is important to remember to always lower your oven temperature by 25°; you will also need to take into account a slightly longer baking time. For more explanation on glass and important notes on ceramic dishes, see my What Your Baking Pans Are Made ofpost.  

2          Loaf Pans 9 x 5 x 3- inch- and/or

2          Loaf Pans 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ -inch (all without seams if metal)

Just as they sound these rectangular pans are designed for loaves of bread. They are used in Standard 9 x 5 loaf panbaking yeast breads, quick-breads, pound cakes etc. These also come in aluminum, ceramic and glass. Once again if you opt for glass pans/dish, it is important to remember to always lower your oven temperature by 25°; you will also need to take into account a slightly longer baking time. For more explanation on glass and important notes on ceramic dishes, see my “What Your Pans Are Made of” post.

How about Mini-Loaf Pans?  4 ½ x 2 ¾ x 1 ¼ -inch

I say yes! So inexpensive you can buy a handful.  They are great to have on hand for last minute gifts; quick breads, mini pound cakes, or any type of mini cake for that matter. My mini’s have saved me so many times when I needed that last-minute small gift for teachers, neighbors, etc.; a little cellophane, a cute little raffia ribbon and Voila!

2          Muffin/Cupcake Pans (12 cup)

The best and most efficient bet is to purchase the standard 12 cup pans and the cups should Standard 12 cup muffin panmeasure 2 ½-in. to 2 ¾-in across the individual cup. Though if you already own smaller pans, it is absolutely fine, it just requires a little more juggling. Note: My recommendation here is to purchase lighter finished pans. If you have a dark finish muffin pan already, just double up on the cupcake liners in each cup and you can save your muffins/cupcakes from overbrowning on the bottoms.

1          Mini-Muffin Pans (24 cup) 

This pan is indispensable to me. When I catered, I specialized in small appetizers and desserts, and “bite-sized” was always my goal. You can create some amazing baked desserts and treats in a mini-muffin pan. Everything from tiny tartlets, little pecan pies; I’ve even used mine for setting truffles and other candies.

2          Pie Plate(s) One 8 to 9-inch regular and One 9 ½ -inch deep-dish pie plate

Pie plates can be a little tricky, due to the recipe requirements of the many pie recipes there arepyrex pie plate out there.  Whether metal, glass, or ceramic, these come in 8-, 9-, & 10- in. and even larger diameter sizes, so you’ll need to pay attention to every one of your pie recipes and adjust them according to your pan size. Don’t be scared, you can do it! And I’ll do my best to help on my blog here.

I inherited all of my Grandmothers glass pie plates and love them! I personally think glass pie plates are the best option. Not only can you check your crust and the way it is browning while baking, glass just browns pie crusts more evenly and better than anything else I have ever used.

There are also many beautiful decorative ceramic pie plates/dishes on the market. Nordicware pie dish click on plate for linkUnfortunately, they vary in capacity sizes many times; many of these are for larger pies. So be  sure to measure* your ceramic dish to ensure they will work with your recipes. (This photo of the decorative pie plate on the right is one that I own and love! The best part is that it was only $14.99 online at Target. Click on the photo and it should take you right to it!)

  • A good way to measure capacity is to just fill your pie plate/dish with 1/2  cup of rice or beans  at a time; then you’ll at the very least know the dishes’ capacity.
  • This tip works excellently with liquid measuring cups of water for cake/baking pans also, because most cake batter can be measured in liquid measures.

Another note: Pies make wonderful gifts for neighbors, dinner parties, and barbecues. However, if you plan on gifting a pie and decide on using a disposable aluminum pie plate, remember that those are usually a much smaller capacity than many recipes call for. Once again, just adjust your recipe.

1        Springform Pans (10 x 2 ½ – inch)

This pan is deep and round with a removable bottom and a spring latch that securely holds Springform panform together offering a tight leak-proof seal. They are non- stick metal and should be seamless. It is designed for baking more delicate cakes that don’t require being turned out. Designed for desserts like cheesecakes.

The latch on the side releases what is customarily called the “collar”, and is then easily lifts away from your cake, so as the cake can be placed on a serving plate.

Note: You can get wonderful deals on Springform trio sets. These customarily come in 9’, 10’ and a 10.5- inch sizes.

1         Tart Pan (9 x 1 ¼ -inch is the norm.)

Most tart pans are metal, with a removable bottom; allowing you to slip off the outer ring tart pan with removable bottomwithout injuring your beautiful crust. They can be straight sided or fluted for a more “professional looking tart, pastry etc…

This is not a must-have, but if you are ready to purchase one, I recommend buying a fluted tart pan. The beauty of a fluted tart/pastry is worth it.

A Tip: A cool trick for releasing your tart is to place it on a wide-mouthed can once it has cooled; then gently bringing the tart collar down away from the tart, revealing your beautiful dessert ready for serving.

Cooling Racks  (Must-Haves)

Cooling racks come in many sizes, and vary in shape. Round cooling racks for cakes are a must if you want to produce a perfectly layered cake. Using a larger rectangular rack to place a cooled layer on top of another is a recipe for disaster. Trust me here, it’s not pretty if this goes wrong. #NoTilt

The larger rectangular racks are best for cooling other desserts, like cookies, pastries etc.… You should invest here.  I would look for a nonstick surface with reinforced coating that provides quick release and easy cleanup. Handles are a plus, but sometimes difficult to find.  Look for a heavy gauge construction; these will spread heat evenly and prevent warping.

These also come in a 3 tier design, which in theory should conveniently allow for you to cool more of your favorite foods at once and saves you space. Pay great attention if you purchase a set of these, if the strength of the stacking support legs is weak or flimsy, your tower of cookies could come crumbling down.

Parchment Paper

Parchment Paper is a natural, high density paper with a non-stick coating. It’s oven safe up to Reynolds Parchment Paper Roll420°F. Bakers everywhere love parchment paper because it delivers better baking results, especially if baking on a dark coated pan.  Parchment paper is the same paper cupcake liners are made from, and there are some really cool ways to use it in your muffin pans.  I personally love Reynolds® Parchment Paper. It can be purchased by the roll at your local grocery store or in 12 x 16 sheets (not always available in the store, here is a link to purchase it online. The advantage in purchasing the sheets is that they lay flat immediately, the rolled paper needs a little finessing, but it’s still quite simple to use.


A Silpat® is a French non-stick mat ,made of fiberglass mesh and the highest quality food gradeStandard Silpat silicone. The specially designed mesh works with the silicone to provide consistent heat distribution and promotes even baking and browning. It is designed to lay on top of your baking sheets/pans and comes in several sizes. They even have one that has imprints of different sized cookies for consistency in your cookie baking!

This is not a must have, but once you purchase one, you’ll understand why I’ve included it here, It is not only non-stick, it’s cools once removed from the oven unlike your baking pans; I just pull mine off for a minute or two, wipe off any crumbs with a paper towel and make more cookies, pastries, pretzels etc.. It will last anywhere from 2000 to 3000 times! And cleanup is a breeze, just a little soap and water and you’re done. Here’s a link. There are also many other brands of silicone mats but for baking in the oven, I stand by Silpat® . That said , there are brands that offer mats with pie and pastry rolling guides, these are crazy cool! But I’ll talk about these more in my post Part II-  The Hand and Electric Equipment You’ll Need For Your Baker’s Kitchen

WhWell that’s about it.  This is just a getting started list.  There are many more baking pans and dishes available and fantastic in design, but I’ll save those for other posts.

I hope this post helps you in all of your future Baking endeavors!

As I alluded to earlier, this is only Part I of this series. Part II- The Hand and Electric Equipment You’ll Need For Your Baker’s Kitchen is soon to follow, Please watch for it!