Bakeware can be a very expensive investment, and maintaining it should be a priority. However, sometimes it's hard to stand and dry every groove of your bundt pan, especially when that delicious cake is gleaming on your cake stand across the kitchen. (If you missed our post on how to turn out the perfect bundt, refer back to it here.)
In order to keep creating those perfect cakes and delicious baked goods, you have to have the proper tools, and that does include some maintenance.
Sheet pans - First and foremost, I purchase sheet pans from the restaurant supply store, for my home and pastry business. We use and abuse our sheet pans, and I won't be spending obscene amounts of money on them.They have great quality half sheet pans (the half sheet pans will fit in your home oven) for $5-6 per pan. You can purchase high-grade aluminum half sheet pans for around $11-12 per pan.
I wash my pans with warm water, soap and a non-abrasive sponge, then towel dry them, and then lay them out on a speed rack to allow them to dry completely (just incase we missed any of the water droplets) before stacking.
I also urge you to use parchment paper. Not the kind that comes on a roll in the grocery aisle and makes you want to pull out your hair out trying to get it to stay flat. Go in with a friend or two and purchase a box from Smart & Final of flat parchment paper. Parchment paper is going to help you keep your pans in tip-top shape a lot longer.
Another recommendation is to stay away from cooking sprays. All cooking sprays have soy in them (amongst other things), which can cause build up on your pans. Use coconut oil (or any other oil you like) or butter, and rub or brush it on to the pan for easy release.
To get baked on stains off your baking pans, place a bowl of ammonia in your cold oven on the top rack, while placing your pan on the bottom. The next morning remove the pan, washing with a steel wool. The food particles should come right off. (This will also allow you to get any baked on stains off the inside of your oven.)
Cupcake tins - I have some cheapy mini-cupcake tins (aluminum) that I love, but the first one I bought rusted immediately after I soaped it down and left it to air dry. You cannot leave these economical beauties to air dry. In fact, I use a damp paper towel to clean them off if there are any batter spills, then dry them off completely.
For non-stick cupcake tins, I use warm water and a non-abrasive sponge to clean, then dry completely with a towel.
Non-stick loaf pans and baking pans - No cooking sprays! These cause build-up which counteract the non-stick of the pan. Definitely use parchment paper and rub on some coconut oil, which will help release the baked goods from the pan, and make removal a breeze.
To wash, I use warm water and a non-abrasive sponge to clean, then dry completely with a towel. Be careful with loaf or baking pans that have creases where water can infiltrate, for those, I like to wipe down with a damp towel, and dry completely.
You should also season your non-stick pans. Yes, that's right, season. This helps to fill in any dimples that may have developed. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil onto your pans then place them in the oven at 325 degrees for roughly 45 minutes. When the pans have cooled wipe out all the excess oil. I like to do this about once a year.
Tarts tins - For tarts I follow this procedure: I butter the tin, then chill the tin. I flour the tin, and then chill the tin. I fill the tin, and then chill the tin. I bake straight from the freezer. Afterwards, I wipe the tins with a damp towel and completely dry them, before storing them. Think of these aluminum fluted lovelies as cast iron skillets, you want to season them, and keep their arch nemesis, water, far away.
None of this is too involved and if you make it a priority now, you will have great bakeware, and hopefully treats, for years to come. And for the love of delicious cake, do not put any of these in the dishwasher!
Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.