It’s a sweet dilemma: which baking sheets produce the best cookies? Although the situation seems to demand a taste test most of us would happily participate in, we’ve gathered six tips for choosing the best cookie sheets to save you time, ingredients and calories! Read on.
Like many baking tools, what works brilliantly for one recipe can fall flat with another. This is the way the cookie facts crumble:
1. Insulated cookie sheets.
The kind that feature a cushion of air sandwiched between two layers of aluminum, are designed to reduce the temperature of the baking surface and heat cookies evenly on all sides. Insulated sheetsare also meant to keep baked goods moist and reduce risk of burning. This design works best for light-colored drop cookies with soft centers. Avoid using the insulated design, however, for butter cookies and shaped cookies which may spread prematurely on the sheets and result in thin, overly crisp edges. In addition, some batters may require additional baking time due to increased air circulation, while other recipes will benefit (i.e., remain moist).
For long lasting durability, choose heavy-gauge aluminum sheets which will resist warping and buckling in the oven.
3. Cookie color
Ranging from very light to golden or lightly tanned, will get an assist from your choice of cookie sheet. Shiny sheets work best for cookies that are not meant to brown on the bottom (i.e., shortbread), while light-colored metal will result in golden brown cookies. Cookie sheets that are dark in color (through design or high usage) may result in overly-browned batches.
4. Nonstick cookie sheets
Allow bakers to skip greasing the sheet or using parchment if required by the recipe. However, the experts report that the design also prevents the cookie dough from slipping, or spreading during baking. As a result, nonstick sheets produce “thicker cookies with smooth bottoms” – the perfect choice for shaped cookies!
5. Sides or no sides?
That is the question. Hotly debated on baking blogs, cookie connoisseurs have definite opinions on whether baking cookies on sided, jelly roll-style pans – or flat, unsided sheets yields better results. Sided pan proponents insist the sides do not affect baking success and point out that the pans offer significantly more versatility. In fact, one clever fan points out, for the rare recipe that requires a completely flat sheet, bakers can turn the pan upside down and bake on the bottom. Aha!
Flat-sheet fans, however, believe that sided pans negatively affect air flow during baking and cause uneven batches in both color and consistency. In addition, flat sheet proponents cheer larger surface space and the ease of sliding cookies off when they are done.
6. Size matters.
One would think a bigger pan allowing more cookies per sheet would be a no brainer. However, experts suggest the size of the cookie sheet should follow the size of the oven. Rule of thumb: use sheets that allow two inches from the edge of the sheet to the side of the oven for proper air circulation and sweet success.
Ultimately, storage space and budget will determine the style, variety and versatility of which sheets you bring home. Our tips will ensure your choices are the right ones for you. Smart cookie!