With the exception of bakers, the color black has a certain allure. It’s a fashion icon, and its sleek appeal is used frequently in both autos and high-tech equipment.
Black, on the other hand, is the hue of overbaked goods and, more often than not, the pans that helped them get there. Browning occurs quickly in dark pans, but skilled bakers know how to compensate for this or even exploit it to their advantage.
Matte Is the New Black
Because of fundamental physics, dark pans absorb heat while pale-colored pans reflect it, dark pans are problematic. This is true whether you’re using your grandmother’s cookie sheets, which have developed a black patina from years of usage, or modern cookie sheets with anodized non-stick coatings.
Professional bakers are aware of this effect and, for consistency’s sake, nearly always use heavy-duty metal pans with a pale matte finish. That isn’t to say that if your pans are black, you should reject them; rather, you should learn and comprehend their features.
Give ‘Em A Hand
Because the browning effect is enhanced when heat flows freely from the oven to the pan to the food, stopping the flow of heat is a good tactic. The simple act of lining dark pans with parchment paper improves the browning of cookies, cakes, and breads. Nonstick aluminum foil is another good alternative for cookie sheets.
Place a cookie sheet underneath the pan to deflect some of the incoming heat if your baked products tend to brown or scorch on the bottom. When baking cookies, doubling the sheet provides an insulating air pocket between the layers, which helps prevent browning.
The Big Guns
Consider using a silicon mat to line the pan if you frequently bake cookies that brown easily — recipes heavy in both fat and sugar, such as delicate spritz cookies, are often the worst offenders. Even on a dark pans, this drastically reduces browning and frequently results in only the palest-gold finish.
Cake strips are the solution for cake chefs who are frustrated by hard, crusty edges and excessive doming. They’re insulating wraps that you place around the pan to help your cake bake evenly by reducing the transfer of heat.
Time and Temperature
To compensate for the pans, you might just adjust your baking time or temperature. For example, King Arthur Flour staff baker P.J. Hamel discovered that her test cookies baked flawlessly in six minutes on her grandmother’s dark pan, but took thirteen minutes on a shining pan protected with paper. Quick-baked products like cookies, muffins, and biscuits benefit from shorter baking periods.
Reducing the oven temperature is frequently the best option for cakes, sweet loaves, breads, and other longer-baking goods. Reduce the temperature of your oven by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and then adjust as needed until you find the optimum setting for each dish.
It’s Not All Bad
Dark pans quirks can be unpleasant if you’re not used to them or if you alternate between dark and light, but they’re still useful. Once you’ve gotten your technique down, the pans’ quick-browning nature might be beneficial.
When making hundreds of cookies for the holidays, for example, six minutes per sheet beats 13 minutes hands down. The ability of dark pans to develop a crust is also advantageous for baking a variety of breads and rolls. Match the pan to the recipe and appreciate both for their contributions to your baking.
Here are some other best bread baking pan tips:
- Clear glass baking pans: These generally conduct heat evenly and hold the heat. But when using clear glass, reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees. Sometimes the exterior, including the sides, can brown quickly and shrink away from corners.
- Dark baking sheets: These promote faster browning on the tops and bottoms of cookies so decrease the baking temperature by 25 degrees. It’s a good idea to line the baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, which helps prevent the bottom of cookies from burning.
- Aluminum pans: The heat penetrates light aluminum quickly and usually evenly. Medium-gray aluminum pans typically work well and don’t require temperature or time adjustments.