There are some bakeware pans that are a basic and every kitchen should have them. Not that the back of a cake mix box is the authority, but you’ll find them listing 8” rounds, 9” rounds, 13” X 9”, a decorative cast aluminum/tube (metal piece in the center of the pan) like the Tulip, muffin pans, 8” square, 9” square and a loaf pan. Of course, they don’t mention the “gotta have” cookie sheets/pans, cooling grids or pizza pans.
A 13 X 9 X 2 oblong cake pan is a must for “sheet” cakes. These are always a quick alternative to a stacked cake and just need some confectioners’ sugar dusting or a quick spread of a good icing on top. It’s easy to take to an event and serve everyone the cut squares.
You have to have, at a minimum, a set of 8” rounds or 9” rounds. These are perfect for stacking one on top of the other with yummy icing in between the layers. I personally like to have three of each so I can have three layers to impress people and not have to tort two 9” layers. But you need at least two rounds. Having both 8” and 9” gives you some options. I actually like a 6” round too because of its size….works well for smaller groups but most recipes are not sized for a 6” round. You can use a scratch recipe or a cake mix but remember to just fill the pans 2/3 full so you get good baking results.
A cake baked in a decorative cast aluminum pan can make a huge impact. I love to use the Dimensions® Cascade Pan for my signature dessert. I usually make a decadent chocolate cake glazed with dark chocolate ganache (just whipping cream and Candy Melts® melted together and poured over) surrounded by strawberries or raspberries (whichever is less expensive) and served on a footed cake plate. I always get WOWs.
A set of square pans is great so you have a different shape for your layer cakes. A square is a must for brownies, lemon bars, coffee cakes and some quick breads.
Of course you need some muffin pans. I like a 12 cup muffin pan so I can bake more at one time. You could also use two 6 cup muffin pans. These are great for the muffins, cupcakes and some savory appetizers. Since cake mix yields are for 24 cupcakes, get two so you don’t have to wait for one to cool before you bake the second batch.
Got to have a loaf pan usually 9.25” X 5.25” X 2.75”. Perfect for quick breads and yeast breads. You can use it for meatloaf too.
Cookie Sheets and Cookie Pans have to be in every kitchen. I have both. The difference is that a cookie pan has all four sides which are about a half an inch high while a cookie sheet has just one half inch side. I like the pan for bar cookies and the sheets for cut-out cookies because I can roll out the dough right on the pan or on top of some parchment paper. Cookie pans can also be used for jelly rolls which are easier to make than you might think and always impress. Pizza pans are nice to have whether making your own dough or using a frozen pizza.
For novelty, have a few shaped pans such as the Teddy Bear pan. You can dress this up as a boy, girl, sports bear, use for a hobbyist or a baby shower. A flower pan like the Dancing Daisy or the Sunflower is another good choice because they bake well and are so easy to decorate whether star tipping, spatula icing or using the Sugar Shaker to dust confectioners’ sugar or colored sugars on the cake. Both look great with some chocolate jimmies in the middle as the seeds. The Star Pan and #1 Pan can be used for sports, theater, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day or any type of recognition celebration.
If you like to make cheesecakes, you need a springform pan. A 9” is probably the most common size and you’ll find a lot of great recipes that will delight your friends and family.
Don’t forget a couple of cooling grids. Perfect for cookies and cakes, plus I use mine for pouring ganache or thinned icing over mini cakes. Put parchment on your cookie pan and then the cooling grid on top of that. Makes for a quick clean-up.