Boiling Point: Don't get burned by your bread pan

Jim Hillibish

Bread pans are like golf clubs. We’re constantly seeking the magical ones that guarantee great results.

As with clubs, our choices keep expanding. Many pans now are coming with science attached -- the physics of good bread. Prices are as big as the promises -- up to $71 for a 12-inch loaf pan.

Let me prick the balloon and remind you that it’s not the pan that makes you a memorable baker. Good golfers and bakers are good no matter what their gear.

Worth the investment

Better equipment pays off in the details. Great pans last forever. Your kids will inherit them. They do little things well, such as even crusts. Then again, you may find a winner in a $1.99 pan.

You have your choice of metal ($1.99 to $75), Pyrex ($12.99) and the odd newcomer, silicone ($13). Metal is a poor heat insulator, so it produces the heaviest crusts and fastest baking times. Glass crusts are lighter and silicone, an excellent insulator, produces the most delicate loaves of all, not for me but maybe for you.

The cheaper pans are fine for meatloaf and other nonbread work. You should reserve your bread pans for bread only. Metal ones must be hand-washed.

Each pan has its own personality, so you need to find one that suits your taste.

I like a well-done, all-over golden crust, including sides and bottom. I

spent years looking for the right pan and found it in the Kaiser Noblesse line. These are made in Germany, where crusty bread is a national passion. I like the price -- $15 at (I found mine for $5 at a discounter.)

The Kaisers are thin, black-coated steel bent around a wire frame. They are the thinnest of pans, offering least resistance to oven heat. Their high heat conductivity results in even and beautiful crusts. Baking time can be 10-15 percent less than with standard metal pans.

Cuisinart, usually an expensive cookware line, makes one of the best cheaper pans at $7.95, joining Baker’s Secret. Anything less might have obvious faults, such as uneven browning.

Avoid sticking

Sticking is the bane of bakers. It’s caused by scratched pans, worn nonstick surfaces (from dishwashers or scrubbing too hard), improper seasoning and underbaking.

Vegetable oil can damage nonstick surfaces. Use a spray lubricant such as Pam on these. The Kaiser is safe for oil.

Never use a metal utensil on a metal pan. Scratches are permanent and ruin it. I run a plastic knife around the edges to free my loaves.

My Kaisers, with little care, are good as new after eight years of heavy

use. Those Germans know their bread pans.

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