For the very easiest baking I suggest Springform Pans. They really do make life a whole lot easier, just don’t keep them for cakes only – they also create the most wonderfully impressive pies too.
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I am not one of life’s natural bakers. But from time to time I do like to release my inner Goddess by providing tasty oven baked treats. To do so without disaster I need a little help in the kitchen. So on the advise of the original Domestic Goddess I have invested in a few spring-form pans.
To say they make baking a joy is a little over the top. But they really are a huge help. I tend not to go in for non-stick coatings on kitchen cookware for fear of scratching when using (or when the other half is washing up). But because no utensils ever go anywhere near your cake tins this is far less of a concern for non-stick bake-ware. Plus of course that non-stick coating means that even my occasionally slightly more golden (i.e. burnt) offerings come out like a dream.
Though I don’t make many cakes, when I do I like them to be moist and high, which is where a good quality springform tin comes in. It allows the batter to slide up and rise easily whilst protecting the top from the ravages of an over hot oven.
I probably use mine far more often for pies, because a pie baked in spring-form is easy to layer and oh so impressive when unsheathed and placed on a serving dish. Those flabby plate pies are tasty but not nearly so impressive to serve up. But create a towering veggie, egg and tomato pie and even the resident carnivore will be salivating for more. It looks like a butchers sausage & egg pie so my other half completely forgets the lack of meat inside!
As with all non-stick cookware you tend to get what you pay for. In an ideal world I would choose enamel spring-form bakeware, knowing how great enameled skillets are. But since I bake far less often than maybe I should I simply cannot justify the extra expense. My current batch of cheap non-stick spring-form pans has lasted me about 8 years so far, probably being used a few times a month each, which I think is pretty impressive as there is no sign that they will need replacing anytime soon. Just be gentle with them! The best coatings will of course last the longest. But to be honest even cheaper ones are far more forgiving than non-stick pans since you are on the whole a lot more gentle with your cake tins than your cooking pots.
For pies I always place a flat baking sheet in the oven to heat up first whilst the oven is preheating a little hotter than you need to cook the pie in. Then put the loaded up springform pan onto that and turn the heat down to the correct cooking temperature. It gives the base of the pie a quick blast to help crisp it up – just go careful!