There are many types of nonstick coatings for your bakeware – most companies claim to have proprietary technology – but they are all light years beyond what they were two decades ago and even five years ago. Nonstick technology gets better and better as time goes on, resulting in bakeware that lives up to its name and is more durable than ever. With good-quality equipment in your kitchen, it’s important to make sure you’re caring for your nonstick bakeware in the right way. Here are a few tips to keep your pans in tip-top shape for years to come:
- To some degree, you get what you pay for. Nonstick from the supermarket is most likely going to be cheap and thus cheaply made. On the other hand, you don’t have to go to the super-fancy gourmet chain stores either. Look for commercial-weight bakeware; heavy is good! It means the pan won’t warp and heat will be more evenly conducted. Read reviews online to learn about other bakers’ experiences.
- Many of today’s nonstick surfaces claim that they can withstand use with metal utensils, but do so with care. Using a metal spatula to lift a brownie is fine, but digging down into those brownies to cut them in the pan with a sharp knife is not.
- Some nonstick pans might develop surface marks after hard use that do not affect their efficacy. My rule of thumb is if I can feel it with my fingernail, the scratch is deep and the pan should be replaced. Very often, the mark is primarily visual and does not negatively affect the pan.
- When cutting brownies and bars, consider using the technique shown below. While still barely warm, use a plastic bench scraper to cut straight down to create your bars. This technique eliminates the need to use a sharp implement. You can see our technique in the image below.
- Some nonstick pans are dishwasher-safe, but do not use the solid detergent pellets, which often prove too harsh. Best-case scenario is to hand wash in warm, sudsy water with a sponge or approved “scrub” sponge that is safe for nonstick surfaces.
- Some nonstick surfaces discolor over time, but this does not usually impact their effectiveness.
- Take care when storing. Stacking is fine, but be careful not to scratch the nonstick surfaces with other pots and pans.
Of course, the most important thing to do is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper care, as they might vary slightly from one brand to the next.
The pans in our images are the Avanti line from Wilton (who provided the pans). For the last couple of decades, I have used Wilton’s nonstick muffin/cupcake pans exclusively. When I was writing my Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes, I knew I was going to be baking hundreds of cupcakes for several months, and through trial and error I discovered their nonstick muffin/cupcake pan and was sold on the superior performance. Every few years, Wilton redevelops their technology and they have never steered me wrong. By the way, if I am baking muffins directly in the pans, without paper liners, I do coat the wells with nonstick spray for extra insurance from sticking. With regular pans, you have to prep; there is no option. With nonstick it isn’t necessary, but I choose to use nonstick spray just to be safe. I find that an extra spritz on the tops of the pans where batter might cling is especially helpful.
Images: Peter Muka