Baking a perfect cake or lasagna requires good-quality ingredients. But using the right baking dish is just as important.
Hence, baking dishes are an integral part of a good baker’s toolkit.
Baking dishes are typically made of glass, ceramic, or porcelain. They have a capacity of almost 2.5 quarts and are deep and wide.
Let’s take a closer look at baking dishes and how to use them for different purposes.
Steps to Use and Take Care of Baking Dishes
Depending on the size, shape, and material used for construction, you can find a wide range of baking dishes in the market.
Though the usage and care instructions will vary slightly according to the material, most of the steps remain the same. Let’s look at what they are.
1. Choose the Right Type of Baking Dish for Your Requirement
Baking dishes can be made of glass, ceramic, porcelain, or even terracotta.
Each of them has different properties. Hence, their use also varies.
- Glass and ceramic are non-porous and easy to clean. They distribute heat evenly. So, you can use them to make bread, muffins, and meat. Some glass baking dishes are vulnerable to thermal shock. They can crack if you put them in the fridge or freezer when hot. So, you should be careful about exposing them to sudden temperature variations.
- Meanwhile, terracotta is a better choice for longer cooking. Terracotta baking dishes need overnight soaking before the first use. However, terracotta dishes are porous and need careful handling. They will also take longer to dry and can become moldy if you don’t dry them thoroughly.
- Porcelain baking dishes are not only oven-safe but also fridge and freezer safe. They are also dishwasher-friendly.
2. Clean the Dish
Before using a baking dish, dry it thoroughly. Use warm, soapy water to wash the dish.
However, you should avoid using soap in the case of a terracotta dish.
In this case, you can use salt or baking soda with water. Scrub the dish gently and rinse it with water. Then dry it thoroughly.
3. Grease the Baking Dish if Needed
Depending on the recipe, you may or may not have to grease the baking dish.
In the case of dishes like cakes, it helps to grease the dish. It will help the cake lift off without sticking. However, it may not be needed for a casserole.
To grease the baking dish for a cake or pastry, smear the entire surface with butter or cooking oil.
Pay attention to the corners and edges also. Then lightly dust the entire surface with flour.
Tilt and turn the pan till all the nooks and edges are well-coated. This will create a non-sticky surface on which ingredients will not attach.
The flour will help the ingredients release from the surface easily.
Finally, turn the baking dish on its side and tap it to release any excess flour.
4. Preheat the Oven
Refer to the recipe for the temperature setting for your dish. Preheat the oven to this temperature.
Don’t place the baking dish in the oven before it has reached the desired temperature.
Placing the baking dish in a preheated oven ensures faster and proper baking.
So you can set the oven for preheating while greasing the baking dish or preparing the ingredients for the recipe.
5. Place the Baking Dish in The Oven and Wait for The Recipe to Bake
Transfer the ingredients to the baking dish and place it in the oven.
Ensure that you wear mittens or use heat pads while placing the dish in the oven. This will prevent accidental burns.
Close the door tightly and let the dish cook for the required time.
Some dishes may require turning or stirring in between. Refer to the recipe to check if it’s required.
6. Allow the Dish to Cool Before Cleaning
Once the dish is ready, you can take it out of the oven and serve it. However, don’t wash the baking dish right away. Let it cool.
This will prevent the surface from developing cracks or getting damaged.
After the baking dish cools to room temperature, wash it with warm soapy water.
If there is any stubborn food residue, soak the dish for some time to dislodge it. Then, scrub and clean as usual.
Dry the dish thoroughly before putting it away in storage.
What Are Baking Dishes Used For?
The shape and size of baking dishes make them ideal for cooking large meals. You can also use them to prepare layered dishes.
Since these dishes are made of thick, heat-resistant materials, they can evenly distribute heat to the very center.
Here are some of the more common ways in which baking dishes are used.
1. Bake Casseroles
Baking dishes are useful for making casseroles and stews. Though they are oven-friendly, these dishes can’t usually be used on the stove.
So you will have to do a part of the food prep on the stove using another pot or pan.
However, the cooking ingredients can be transferred to the baking dish and placed in the oven for baking.
2. Roast Meat
Another common use of baking dishes is to roast meat.
If you have a wide and deep baking dish, you can roast whole meals, including poultry or meat and vegetables with potatoes on the side.
However, it may be unsafe to use these dishes for broiling ingredients.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions before placing any baking dish under the broiler.
If it’s not built for broiler use, the baking dish may crack and get damaged.
3. Layer Dishes Like Lasagna
Baking dishes are the utensils of choice for making layered recipes like lasagna.
Since the dish is deep, you can add several layers of meat and pastry sheets to create the perfect lasagna.
A large baking dish will also have enough area to accommodate a topping of cheese.
The main advantage of using a beautiful baking dish to prepare such dishes is that you can use the same dish for serving.
4. Make Desserts Like Cobblers and Crumbles
Another common use of baking dishes is to make delicious fruit-based desserts like cobblers and crumbles.
It will hold the juices from the fruits without spilling, making the dessert moist and flavorful.
5. Bake Large Dishes
Since baking dishes are wide and very deep, you can use them to bake a big batch of food or larger items.
A whole chicken or large meatloaf will fit inside a deep baking dish.
It’s also possible to cook a large batch of stuffed peppers in a baking dish because of its shape.
So it’s the perfect kitchen utensil to make baking for a big party much easier.
6. Bake Brownies and Cakes
When you don’t have a dedicated brownie pan, you can use a regular baking dish.
A thick baking dish of 9×9 inches is perfect for baking thicker brownies. You can use a smaller one to make small brownies.
7. Make Pasta
A baking dish is good for making pasta recipes. After boiling the pasta and preparing the sauce on the stovetop, you can mix them in a baking dish.
Add a topping of grated cheese and herbs, and bake the dish in the oven for a few minutes.
The resulting crisp and bubbly mixture of pasta and sauce will look and taste great.