Published December 24, 2010 by
A baker is only as good as his or her tools. If you have rusty old bent-up cookie sheets, then perhaps it’s time to go out shopping for some new ones. Having the right cookie sheets can make all the difference between burnt or undercooked cookies and bakery-fresh cookies that look, smell, and taste amazing.
Aluminum baking pans are a favorite for many reasons. Their light color makes it less likely that your cookies will burn. They don’t scratch as easily as Teflon will. However, they will require greasing most times. And if you leave them in the oven too long with cooking spray on them, they will develop a sleek, greasy, burnt area where the cooking spray has crusted over. This makes for ugly cookie sheets. But you can still use them without any harm. If you want to get that gook off, use a product like Dawn Power Booster or soak in an automatic dishwashing powder. Never use a product not certified for food (like Goo Gone). It will be toxic once you use the pan again for cooking.
The genius of Teflon is that nothing sticks to it. You can burn a pan of nachos and the cheese will still slide right off. You need to use non-metal utensils with any Teflon coated pan. And there is some truth to the myth that household birds can die from the fumes that come off Teflon pans. But if you don’t have a pet bird, Teflon is a workhorse pan that you will reach for every time you bake. You won’t need to grease your pans and you’ll find they last forever.
AirBake Sheet Pans
A relative newcomer to the baking sheet arena is the AirBake pan. This is an aluminum pan that has two layers of aluminum on top and bottom and a layer of air between them. The beauty of this type of pan is that the air will heat and circulate and your cookies won’t burn. They’ll cook at a much more even temperature. This pan is ideal if you often forget your cookies are in the oven. If you remember to retrieve the cookies soon enough, an AirBake pan should hold your cookies pretty steady. Of course you can’t leave them in an hour too long. No pan can keep cookies from burning under those conditions. But under normal conditions, you will love the magic that the AirBake pan creates. Fresh, hot, perfectly baked cookies are yours every time you use these pans.
There’s a baking pan for everyone. You can even invest in a Silpat silicone mat that fits a cookie sheet and ensures that even candy won’t stick to it. You shouldn’t use a Silpat with an AirBake pan, however, because the double insulation of the Silpat and the air layer will cause your cookies to turn out undercooked. Too much of a good thing.
Shop for baking sheet pans that feel right to you. You’re the one who has to love them. There are pans in every price range. See if you can find a restaurant supply store and you can score a bunch of professional quality baking sheets for a bargain price. They’ll last you practically forever and you can even pass them down to your grandchildren.