Baking Buying Guide

Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned baker, one of the joys of baking is that there’s always something new to learn and try. Discover the right tin for you and our very own expert - product technologist Miriam Negreira, who has years of experience in baking and cooking – also passes on some hints and tips.

Bakeware material

A key point in your journey to being a great baker is ensuring you have the right tools. A big part of this is the materials you choose – find your perfect match.

Aluminium

A popular material for bakeware as it heats up quickly and cooks evenly, Aluminium is an excellent heat conductor. Great value and easy to clean, it’s ideal for new bakers and budgets.

If you want to invest in quality for years to come, choose anodised aluminium bakeware. Hardwearing and a highly efficient heat conductor, it’s created through oxidisation to create a tough surface that releases cakes with ease and only needs light greasing.

Ceramic

Stoneware, terracotta and porcelain bakeware is perfect for any recipe that required slow and gentle cooking. A centuries-old material, it’s ideal for pastries or bread, and is easy to clean.

Carbon Steel

Combining the strength and durability of steel with easy-release non-stick properties, carbon steel is a high performance material popular with experienced bakers. Great for deep cakes and heavy mixes or doughs, it’s lightweight and tough.

Silicone

A relative newcomer to the baking scene, silicone is the most versatile material available as it’s freezer, microwave and oven-safe. Suitable for use in even the hottest oven, it conducts heat quickly and evenly with a smooth interior for easy release.

Ideal for creating interesting shapes and novelty cakes and perfect for new bakers, silicone creates a whole new world of exciting possibilities, with creations easy to turn out when they’re baked.

Tin and tray types

As well as ensuring you have chosen the right material for the job, having a collection of essential tins, trays and moulds will give you a great foundation to work with.

Baking trays & stones

Ideal for meringues, biscuits and flat sponges, baking trays and sheets provide even heat on a flat surface, and some are double-layered with a space between the layers for better insulation to prevent the cake or biscuit from browning too much.

Baking stones are large, thick pieces of stoneware that are perfect for bread and pizza making. Pre-heat it in the oven while you prepare the dough, and it should give you a great crust.

Cake tins

There are several types of cake tin and each has their own uses and advantages. A sandwich tin has shallow sides good for layered cakes such as Victoria sponges, while deep cake tins are ideal for heavy fruit cakes as they allow the cake to rise fully and cook through.

Some tins have loose bases for easy release and these, as well as deep cake tins, can sometimes require lining to prevent leakage. A further innovation in the area of easy baking is the springform cake tin, which has a solid base and removable sides that can be unclipped, making them a great option for cheesecakes as well as general baking.

Loaf tins

Designed for bread and tea loaves, loaf tins are available in a variety of materials depending on your preference, and are generally categorised by their capacity in pounds (lbs).

Muffin & cupcake tins

Available in a variety of sizes, these tins are ideal for fairy cakes, cupcakes and muffins and feature little indentations to hold paper cases the mixture itself.

Pizza & pie tins

Pizza pans come in a variety of different designs tailored to specific types of pizza. If you want a thin, crusty base, try a tin with a perforated base to help it bake - but if you’re after an indulgent, deep-pan pizza, use a pan with deeper sides and a solid base. You can even use different shaped cake tins if you don’t have a pizza pan to hand.

Whether they are fluted, straight, aluminium or ceramic, pie tins play an important part in ensuring your pastry is flaky, well cooked and delicious. We also stock Pyrex pie dishes, which are ideal for checking how well the crust is cooking without disturbing it.

Pudding basins

A versatile bakeware piece that’s perfect for rich Christmas pudding, sweet sponge puddings and meat puddings, the basin can be used for both steaming and baking in the oven.

Specialist tins

We also offer a range of specialist bakeware enabling you to expand your baking repertoire. If you want to try new and interesting shapes or have a special celebration to prepare for, shaped moulds made from both silicone and aluminium help you create the perfect car or heart effortlessly.

For advanced bakers, we have standard and miniature canelé moulds for the creation of the custard-filled French pastries with a caramelised crust. Continuing the Gallic theme, we stock tins for madeleines and brioche, as well as savarin moulds that are used for cakes such as rum babas.

Pastry & biscuits

While biscuits and pastry can seem a little tricky at first, a good dose of patience and a few tips of the trade will see you become an expert in no time.

Pastry

  • Make sure you have cold hands (or grate chilled butter) and use light fingertips
  • Don’t overwork and give it a rest for at least 30 minutes to relax the gluten
  • Use a preheated baking sheet for a closed pie to ensure the bottom cooks as well as the top
  • If you’re going to prebake (bake blind) the pastry for a flan, tart or pie, gently press it into the tin, pierce in several places to prevent any bubbles, and use pasta shells if you don’t have any baking beans
  • Add a pinch of salt

Biscuits and cookies

  • Use floured cookie cutters
  • Leave plenty of space between them on the baking sheet
  • Handle the dough as little as possible, beat the butter in with a wooden spoon until smooth and pat into shape
  • For shortbread, use unsalted butter that’s at room temperature, and chill the finished mixture before baking to retain the shape
  • Lightly grease the baking sheet

Icing & decorating

The finishing touches can be just as important as the cake or biscuit itself. Take time to practise the basics of icing and decorating and you’ll be amazed at the creative repertoire you’ll build up.

Simple icing

Decorating essentials: palette knife or cake smoother, decorating turntable

  • Glide the palette knife on the icing, not allowing it to touch the cake. This will help prevent crumbs in the icing and leave a smooth finish
  • Use a turntable to keep the palette knife on the icing surface for easier coverage
  • Be generous. Whether you’re using icing or ready-to-use fondant, overestimate so you don’t have to scrimp. You can always use the remainder for any decorations

Modelling & Painting

Decorating essentials: Paint brushes, modelling tools, stencils, icing colours, decorating turntable

  • Fondant or sugarpaste icing is the most popular type of icing for modelling most things, as it’s easy to handle and tends to dry hard
  • When colouring paste, mix and knead thoroughly for an even colour
  • To prevent cracking, make sure you knead the sugarpaste to warm it up, leaving a smooth and slightly stretchy consistency
  • When painting, ensure the solution is not too wet and use a soft, dense brush for precision

Piping

Decorating essentials: Icing bags, nozzles, syringes, decorating turntableFill the bag no more than halfway as a bag that’s too full is difficult to handle and could lead to spillages

  • If you’re planning on using several nozzles for your design, invest in a coupler for easy change-overs.
  • From the top of the bag, squeeze some icing out into a bowl or spare work surface to release any trapped air. It’s also worth practising rosettes, letters and other designs on a spare piece of parchment paper
  • Hold the bag with the hand you write with, and guide the nozzle with the other
  • For clean lines, flowers, dots, shell borders and rosettes, begin with the tip of the nozzle touching the surface, or as close to it as possible, and once you have started piping, lift it up and guide the line or shape to your specification. Then, as you began, bring the nozzle close to the surface and stop icing to complete the shape neatly
  • For iced writing on cakes hold the bag at a 45º angle, much like you would a pen or pencil, and keep the nozzle a little way from the cake surface

Baking tips

Our resident baking expert and product technologist Miriam Negreira lets us in on her top tips for successful baking.

“Make time to cook, it’s therapeutic and an act of love cooking for someone”

  • Baking involves chemical reactions, so always follow the recipe and keep to the timings
  • Make sure everything is weighed out beforehand, and always preheat the oven
  • Eggs should always be at room temperature and you can freeze egg whites if you’re just using the yolks. When whipping egg whites, ensure the bowl is clean and dry as they’ll take on any impurities
  • Always buy the best bakeware you can afford, and don’t put tins in the oven to dry as they will rust
  • When making fruit or Christmas cakes, soak fruit in the alcohol at least the night before for the best flavours
  • If you have to use a smaller tin, don’t overfill it

Baking Essentials

  • Spatula
  • Parchment paper
  • Pastry brush
  • Skewer
  • Wooden spoon
  • Pastry cases
  • Rolling pin
  • Timer
  • Scales
  • Spare candles
  • Fluted flan tin for summer baking