Bakeware Buying Guide

May 16, 2016

Not sure what kind of cake tin you need? Still wondering which bakeware material is best for you? Here we look at some of the most common types of tins and trays in order to help you decide.

Types of tins and trays

Sandwich tins

A shallow design makes sandwich tins ideal for baking cakes with multiple layers (such as Victoria sponges, rainbow cakes and chocolate gateaux). The low sides mean that more of the cake mixture is exposed to heat, resulting in a more even bake. Sandwich tins can be round or square and will often come with a removable base that makes releasing the cake easier.

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Cake tins

These have a deep-sided design that allows the cake mixture to rise fully whilst retaining its shape. The high sides also help to prevent the top from burning while the inside is still cooking. As with sandwich tins, cake tins are available in round or designs and will often come with a removable base.

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Spring-form cake tins

Spring-form cake tins have expandable sides that clip together with a simple spring mechanism, making it easy to release your cake after baking. They can be used for all kinds of cake recipes but are especially useful for cheesecakes (which are notoriously difficult to remove from normal cake tins). The pressure applied by the spring mechanism helps to create a tight seal around the base, meaning you will not need to use greaseproof paper.

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A traybake generally refers to any square-shaped tin with vertical sides between 2 and 5cm in height. This kind of design is ideal for making brownies, flapjacks and shortbread.

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Loaf tins

Ideal for tea loaves, fruit cakes and of course bread, loaf tins have a long, high-sided design that allows the dough or mixture to rise without losing shape and which helps to prevent the outer areas from burning. Unlike most other types of tin they are defined not by their dimensions but by how many pounds of bread dough they can hold.

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Fluted tins

Fluted tins have an attractive edge detail usually reserved for tartes, flans and quiches. Expert bakers will tell you that broad flutes should be used for savoury dishes and that fine flutes are best used for sweet dishes, but there is no reason for this other than tradition. Fluted tins will almost always have a removable base – this so that you can release the tarte, flan or quiche without damaging the delicately formed pastry around the edge.

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Baking trays

Low sides make baking trays ideal for things like cookies, scones, meringues and even sponges that you can roll into roulades (providing the edges are vertical). They also double up as everyday oven trays suitable for savoury dishes.

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Baking sheets

Similar to a baking tray but without the sides, baking sheets are useful for all sorts of general baking tasks. They'll often have a lip on one edge to stop things slipping off.

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Cupcake and muffin tins

Usually available with 6 or 12 holes, cupcake and muffin tins are the staples of any creative baker's kitchen. As the name suggests, they are mostly used for cupcakes, muffins and other similar treats, but they're just as good for miniature fruit pies and Yorkshire puds!

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Understanding the different materials

When it comes to buying bakeware, it helps to have a little knowledge of the materials typically used in its construction. Understanding the physical properties and characteristics of each will allow you to find a product or range that caters to your own cooking style.

Carbon Steel

This alloy conducts heat extraordinarily well, distributing it quickly and evenly with minimal hot and cold spots. That’s why it’s such a popular bakeware material – few other metals give such an even bake. Carbon steel is also very durable, though it does need a special coating in order to prevent rusting (and of course to stop food sticking). The downside to having a non-stick coating is that you’ll need to be extra careful when using metal utensils in order not to scratch it.

Anodised Aluminium

Highly resistant to general wear and tear, anodised aluminium is often considered the toughest of all bakeware materials. It will never peel or blister and it’s safe to use with metal cooking utensils. It’s also able to withstand the highest cooking temperatures and offers outstanding heat distribution properties, ensuring your food is evenly cooked throughout. If you want bakeware that lasts a lifetime, choose anodised aluminium.


Silicone bakeware may be something of a newcomer to the home baking scene, but it has been used in professional kitchens for quite some time. There are a number of reasons for its growing popularity in the domestic environment. For starters, silicone has excellent non-stick properties – it doesn’t need greasing, and once your food is baked it’s incredibly easy to remove from the tray.

Silicone bakeware is also much more versatile than conventional metal-based equipment. You can put it in the fridge or freezer as well as in the oven, allowing you to follow more complex recipes where cooling is required. It’s easy to clean, highly durable, and distributes heat evenly across all surfaces, making it great for making cakes and muffins. But perhaps the best thing about silicone bakeware is that you can simply roll it up and pack it away when you’re done baking.

Bakeware FAQs

How important is conductivity?

Bakeware needs to be able to distribute heat evenly and therefore must be highly conductive. If it’s not then you may end up with burnt tops and soggy bottoms! Carbon steel, anodised aluminium and silicone are all good at conducting heat.

Does it need a non-stick coating?

In the case of carbon steel bakeware, yes. A non-stick coating will not only make it easier to release your cakes but will also prevent rusting. Anodised aluminium and silicone have a natural non-stick finish and therefore do not need a non-stick coating.

Do I need to line my cake tin with baking paper?

Most baking buffs would recommend lining the tin if it has a removable base, particularly if the mixture is quite thin, otherwise it might seep through the gaps! However, you won’t need to worry about this if you’re using a spring-form tin because of the tight seal created by the spring mechanism. Lining tins can also make it easier to remove cakes without damaging them, so you may want to do it even if your tin has a solid base.

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