If you haven’t joined the quarantined masses in baking banana bread in regular rotation, it’s probably been a while since your loaf pan has gotten much action compared to the other cookware in your cabinet. These pans are essential for making bread, but you can use a loaf pan for a lot more than that.
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The classic nonstick metal loaf pan is surprisingly versatile in the kitchen.
Here’s how to put your bread pan to good use when you just can’t take another banana loaf:
1. Granola Bars
If you don’t have a square pan handy or you just want thicker bars, you can use a loaf pan to whip up a batch of your favorite homemade granola bars. Just line the pan with some parchment paper and press the granola mixture into the bottom. Once it’s baked and cooled, you can pull out the paper and chop the block into bars. It’s as easy as that!
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Or try a silicone pan that should easily release anything you make in it.
2. All Kinds of Cake (No-Bake Options Included)
Give your favorite cake a new shape with the help of your loaf pan. You can make all kinds of cakes in this form, including ginger cake and pound cake. You could probably even adapt your favorite cake recipe for a loaf pan—just keep in mind it’s going to need a lot of extra bake time (unless you make an icebox cake in it, which is also a great option). Don’t forget ice cream cakes either, like this S’mores Icebox Terrine recipe.
3. Mini Lasagna
Cooking for just one or two people? Then you probably don’t need a full casserole dish of lasagna—that’s where the loaf pan comes in. With this handy little pan, you can create the perfect two-person serving of delicious lasagna by halving your usual recipe. This is also ideal if you like a thicker slice of lasagna, as the higher sides allow you to layer up more ingredients.
4. No-Churn Ice Cream
No ice cream maker? No problem! There are lots of no-churn ice cream recipes out there, and one of the most convenient ways to freeze these sweet concoctions is in a loaf pan. Just pour your mixture in, let it freeze overnight, then scoop it out to eat. Make sure to cover it tightly with tin foil, though, or it might get freezer burn.
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We like a Pyrex loaf pan for this one, but any kind will work.
Meatloaf is a surprisingly divisive topic: Should you make it in a loaf pan or freeform? We’ll let you come to your own conclusions about which way is better, but the fact remains you can cook meatloaf in a loaf pan—which probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that “loaf” is right in its name.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t stop eating cheesecake until every last bite is gone. To minimize temptation, you can make a smaller cheesecake using your loaf pan—Dessert for Two has a perfect two-person recipe. Plus, as an added bonus, you won’t have to struggle with a water bath.
7. Ice Pops
If your kids are asking for ice pops but you don’t have any molds, you can always use a loaf pan. Just line the pan with parchment paper, then fill it with your favorite ice pop recipe. Place Popsicle sticks in a line down the center, then slice between them and serve once the ingredients are frozen. It works well with mini loaf pans, too!
Your humble loaf pan can even be pressed into service for fancy (OK, still pretty humble) French food in the form of a country pâté. It’s perfect for spreading on toast or crackers with piquant cornichons on the side. Try making it the centerpiece of an indoor picnic. (If you don’t eat meat, a Spring Vegetable Terrine is a nice alternative.)
9. Chocolate Mousse
A loaf of chocolate? Sign me up! You can make this decadent dream into a reality by whipping up a chocolate mousse loaf, like this one from Shugary Sweets. Just be sure to line the loaf pan with plastic wrap so you can get it out easily.
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