Alright, this sounds easy doesn’t it, can they really be all that different?
I have bought many pie pans over the years and found that some are far better than others. My least favorite are metal pans, and my favorite are ceramic, or glazed stoneware, below I’ll tell you why.
here are the common choices
Metal (usually aluminum)
Ceramic (always glazed)/stoneware (glazed or unglazed)
There may be other choices, but I’m going to talk about those.
Metal– lets start with that. These tend to be my least favorite because their ability to brown a crust while cooking with a filling can vary wildly. Many are just too thin to conduct heat properly, and can cause the bottom of your crust to turn out soggy. I bought some old fashioned looking ones with some small holes in the bottom that were touted “professional quality” These let fat melt out through the holes causing a bit of smoke in the oven, and in spite of the holes, the crust still came out uncooked and soggy, even after being in the oven for over an hour. Many metal pie pans are non-stick, which may seem like a good idea at first, but after cutting a few pies with a knife, their coating will start to scratch and they will start to peel.
Glass– Glass is an excellent material for baking pies. Not only does it bake very very well, but it is often dirt cheap! Glass holds in heat, and keeps the crust cooking, minimizing the affects of temperature fluctuation in the oven. With a glass pan you can see the bottom of the crust making sure that it is nice and golden brown. The down side to glass is that it is vulnerable to sudden temperature changes and can shatter quite abruptly, when working with glass, be mindful of this. When working with a glass pan, avoid setting the hot pan on a stone countertop, glass stove top, or wet surface. It’s a good idea to set it on a dry towel, or potholder.
Ceramic/stoneware– This is my favorite, I own a bunch of them. Ceramic/stoneware bake very well, just like glass, holding in the heat. I prefer glazed stoneware over unglazed. I see no real advantage to unglazed. Unglazed pans are harder to clean and they stain quite easily since they are porous. Glazed stoneware has all of the attributes of the unglazed, but is easier to clean, and can go into the dishwasher. Ceramic or stoneware, doesn’t shatter with abrupt temperature changes, but will break or crack under extreme circumstances. The downside to this type of pan is that you cannot see the crust through the pan.
What size do I buy?
The standard most universal size is 9″, most pie crust recipes are geared to a pan of this size, as well as pie recipes. These pans will often be called “deep dish” and will be around 1 1/2 deep. Those pre-rolled refrigerated pie crusts are geared to this size and will fit well, allowing enough crust to crimp. Glass pie plates made by pyrex and anchor, are often sold in an odd 9.5″ size. While 9.5″ isn’t going to ruin your pie, it will make a less thick pie, and pre-rolled pie crust will come just short of fitting. Here is a typical 9.5″
Here is what you should look for
I bet you didn’t think that someone could ramble on so long about a pie pan did ya! Yes I’m a nerd…