People say baking is more of a science than stovetop cooking: Why? Because exactness matters. The amount of humidity in the air and the altitude of your city can affect how your dish turns out. Yeast and other components create chemical reactions that make dough rise. There’s gluten formation, starch gelatinization, and protein coagulation. And there is just so much more. One thing many beginner bakers forget to think about is how their baking pan — glass or metal — is going to react with the ingredients.
The best bakers are meticulous testers and re-testers. They form a hypothesis, conduct the experiment, and based on the result, come to a conclusion. That conclusion could be that that brown sugar rather than white sugar makes your cookies softer and more moist, for instance.
Metal bakeware can withstand higher temperatures than glass, which makes it ideal for foods that bake for a short period of time at a higher temperature. This makes it perfect for using when making baked goods such a cookies, biscuits, cakes, muffins, and breads. Metal bakeware is also preferred when browning foods and quick roasting since it tends to heat up quickly and also cool down relatively fast.
You also want to use a metal dish when broiling at high oven temperature as it can cause glass to shatter. Glass also can shatter if used directly on the stove top so If you are planning to start something on the stove then consider using a metal pot that is safe for both stovetops and ovens.
Glass bakeware has the advantage that it distributes heat more evenly, which will cause your food to likely cook at an even rate. However, glass is a poor conductor of heat so it doesn’t heat up quickly but once it has warmed up, it will stay warm long after it’s removed from the oven. Use glass dishes when baking with eggs or acidic ingredients (think tomatoes and citrus). The metal pans can react with the acidity and cause foods to discolor or leave a metallic taste.
A disadvantage to glass bakeware is that it isn’t able to jump quickly with temperature changes and can even break when experiencing extreme temperature shifts. This isn’t common but it’s recommended that you never put your glass bakeware directly on the stove burner or under a warmed up broiler.
Something to keep in mind is that you should reduce baking temperature by 25 degrees and check the food often as it may be ready up to ten minutes earlier if you are substituting a glass dish for a metal baking pan. This is because glass doesn’t heat up as quickly as metal but will become very hot once heated up.
Now that we know when to use which type of bakeware, try these dishes in them:
You’ll need a metal 9-by-5-inch loaf pan for this recipe, which uses benefits of both white and brown sugars to make the bread a perfect combination of moist and crisp, keeping together the Granny Smith apples and warm spices. Get our Apple Quick Bread with Pecan Streusel recipe.
Do carrots a whole new way, in a rich, creamy casserole. There’s really not much too it besides cream, plus some garlic and a crunch Panko breadcrumb topping. That’s all you need. Get our Creamy Carrot Casserole dish.
Gooey, rich brownies are simple to whip up and the perfect weeknight dessert. These easy brownies bake in less than a half an hour, which is a relatively quick baking time, so you’ll want to use a metal baking pan that heats up fast and helps them to bake in a relatively short period of time. Get our Easy Brownie recipe.
This savory egg pudding is speckled with sautéed leeks and herbs that make it a delicious and ideal breakfast or brunch item to serve at your next get together. With this recipe, it’s time to pull out the glass bakeware for this dish as a metal one may react with the eggs to discolor the final dish or even could leave a metallic flavor. Get our Savory Egg Pudding recipe.
There is good reason the chocolate chip cookie is probably the most famous of them all: buttery and full of gooey chocolate, these cookies are meant for any occasion. What baking dish to use may be more obvious than most for this recipe since you don’t ever see shallow baking sheets made out of glass. You’ll want to use metal here, which will help achieve a crispy cookie bottom. Get our Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.
Cooking for a crowd doesn’t have to be a hassle if you just whip up a big pan full of lasagna! Use glass bakeware so that the acidic tomato sauce can’t react with the metal. A bonus to using a glass dish is that it will stay warmer for longer once you remove it from the oven so you won’t have to immediately race to get it onto the table for your guests. Get our Vegan Lasagna recipe.
Biscuits get a veg makeover with these Sweet Potato Biscuits, which feature a heavy dose of smashed sweet potatoes. Biscuits ideally cook on metal bakeware as they bake relatively fast at a high temperature and the metal dish will also help the bottoms browns. Get our Sweet Potato Biscuits recipe.
— Article updated by Amy Sowder on Oct. 15, 2016.