How To Choose a Good Loaf Pan – Bread Tin Comparison

If you’re thinking about buying bread tins, it can be hard to know where to start. You can spend a little, or a lot. You can get ‘tins’ in a variety of different materials. For the beginner bread-maker, there is a perplexing array of choice. So, here is a brief guide to bread tins – or perhaps that should be ‘loaf pans’ since they are not necessarily made out of tin.

I have used three different types of loaf pan and this is what I thought of them:

Silicone Loaf Pan

silicon bakeware
Verdict: Maybe

This loaf pan has the advantage of being genuinely non-stick and never needing to be greased.  It is, however, far too bendy!  In the oven, I always make sure that it is flanked by two rigid loaf pans, otherwise it allows the loaf to spread out sideways, creating a rounded, bulgy loaf.  The shape of the loaf itself needn’t be a problem but even handling the loaf pan is trickier than it needs to be. Manoeuvring a wobbly loaf pan in and out of the hot oven is just not as easy as using rigid versions.

Washing the silicon loaf pan is also problematic.  The silicon stains brown after repeated use and I can never seem to scrub it properly due to its wiggliness in the sink.  I do use my silicon loaf pan but it’s not my favourite.

Glass Loaf Pan

pyrex glass loaf pan
Verdict: No

I inherited a glass loaf pan from someone and I thought it looked lovely.  That was as far as my affection went.  Alas, my loaf stuck to the glass, despite the fact that I had carefully greased it.  Given that glass has no flexibility, there was little I could do to prize my loaf out of the pan, save chipping it out with a knife.  Glass is too rigid to be a loaf pan, in my opinion.  It is also heavy and breakable.  I have one glass loaf pan seeking a new home.

Steel Loaf Pan

Steel loaf pans or tins
Verdict: Buy six!

I love my traditional, metal loaf pans.  I lightly oil them every time I use them and the bread rarely* sticks.  (*This is a case of ‘never say never’ because sometimes bread sticks through no fault of the container.)

These loaf pans are light and easy to handle.  They rigid enough to be easily lifted in and out of the oven whilst also offering enough flexibility for coaxing stubborn loaves out of the pan.  They are easy to wash and can be scrubbed as clean as you like.  I favour a 2lb loaf pan (link to a nice cheap one on Amazon) and actually own six of them because, frankly, if I’m going to all the effort of making bread and all the expense of having the oven on, I might as well make lots all at once.

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30 comments:

  1. I thought steel was the best choice and now I am reassured! Thanks.

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    1. You're welcome Jay. I wrote this post a long time ago and I still prefer the metal ones.

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  2. I think metal is best but somewhere in the recess of my mind I recall that it isn't necessary to wash your bread tins.Doing so may reduce the non stick ability that builds up though regular use and I don't think there is a hygiene issue. As a child I used to visit my local baker. He used to make us kids mini loaves for free but he never washed any of his bread tins!

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    1. What a nice chap!
      I think you're right about washing tins. Mine are usually clean enough not to need washing - it's just a trace of flour dust, after all.

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  3. I'm afraid I cheat and use those loaf liners you can get in lakeland. They're fantastic!

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    1. Ooh I love Lakeland! Never tried the loaf liners though!

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  4. My neighbour lent me her glass pan last week and I found it was fantastic. The bread came out beautifully! Now I am trying to find a place to buy one for myself. I have looked at John Lewis and M&S and even on Ebay and Amazon. Can you tell me where I can buy one please?

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    1. Sorry it took me ages to reply. The children are taking over my life! In a good way :)

      I am alsp sorry that I have no idea where to try for a glass loaf pan. You've suggested all the places I would have thought of.

      How did you get your bread to come out beautifully? Mine sticks! What's the trick?!

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    2. Actually there do seem to be some on Amazon - see link further down comment thread.

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  5. I use a heavy enameled metal loaf tin from Sainsburys, I grease lightly with butter every time and so far no loaf has ever stuck in the tin (fingers crossed!). I do wash it out every time but is cleans really easily. Happy baking!

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    1. That sounds good. A light greasing is a good recommendation.

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  6. yeah - where to buy a glass bread pan? or... is yours still collecting dust??

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    1. Hmm, no further suggestions (see above) and yes, I have two still in the cupboard that I have used a couple of times for pate and meatloaf but hate using for bread. I wonder if we could do a deal?!

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    2. Wait! Are these any good?
      glass loaf pans on Amazon - affiliate link ;o)

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    3. I am finding that between my metal and glass pans, my bread sticks coming out of the glass pan more often than the metal ones even when I know I greased it well. Interesting to learn that this is your verdict, Rachel, thank you for sharing. (You can see, there are still articles I haven't yet read!)

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  7. Hi Rachel

    I've found an old bakery tin that came from my time working for Mother's Pride bakery. I tried my standard loaf (500gm flour) but I suspect I need a bigger recipe.

    It measures (approx) 33mm x 11mm x 11mm and I wondered if you can suggest a basic recipe I could use for this?

    I think it could be classed as a 'sandwich' tin but if you're still in touch with your old guru maybe he can help.

    Thanks

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    1. I recommend scaling up your usual recipe - try using double or triple the amounts - and that should fill your tin very well.

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    2. Thanks, I'd sort of guessed that was the way to go. I'll let you know how I get on.
      I'll try 750 - 800gm first as it wasn't too far from filling the tin after 2nd prove and I'd prefer not to be scraping dough off the worktop (lol).

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    3. I'll watch this space, as it were.
      For those who don't know, you can scale up (or down) your bread recipe using this formula:
      http://www.homemadeloaves.co.uk/2013/01/the-formula-for-great-dough.html

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    4. I made my normal mix yesterday (500gm) but decided to have a go at making a cob (based on your earlier post) instead of the usual bloomer.

      I'm also trying out a new technique - which I won't go into here - which is supposed to improve the overall taste and texture of the loaf.

      I'm not sure if it was just beginner's luck but I ended up with a lovely soft loaf with a decent rise. I've been having a real problem with getting height on my bread for some while now and I'll keep going with this to see if it makes my bread more consistent.

      Thanks for this blog. I keep coming back to it whenever I feel embattled.

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    5. Ooh I'm really curious about your new technique now!

      My top tips for height on bread are:
      Make the dough firm - not too wet
      Ensure you don't over-prove
      Bake at a very high temp for the first five minutes (to achieve so-called 'oven spring')

      Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, and for being in touch. Comments and kindness help me to keep this thing going! :)

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    6. I'm loathe to bring this into the discussion at this point as I feel that new bakers should stick with one method until filly confident. I am, by nature, an avid searcher for knowledge but I'm starting to confuse myself.

      I'll do you a deal; once I'm sure that the new tweak lives up to its promise over the next few weeks, I'll give you an insight into what works for me. OK?

      It's not that earth-shattering and you may already be aware of it but better safe than sorry.

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  8. Re earlier post about the sandwich tin, I had a chat with my brother-in-law and he immediately suggested 800gms. Years ago, (I had forgotten) he used to work in a small local bakery so it was an instinctive response which I suspect is valid. I'll let you know how it works out.

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    1. Sounds promising, That would make sense - being more than your usual 500g but not as much as double.

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  9. I have terrible problems with my non stick pans that I bought from Dunelm (certainly not cheap), I end up having to 'dig' the loaves out of them at times, I have tried just flour, just olive oil and then olive oil under flour ... it seems to be pot luck as to whether the white or granary loaves stick or not !!! I have tried silicone but find my bread does not rise anything like it does in the non stick tins and tends to be on the dense side because of that :-(

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    1. I'm not sure if Rachel will agree but olive oil is not the best option at high temperatures. Maybe a taste-free option such as sunflower oil might help. If the loaves are basic 2lb & 1lb ones, then there are some liners available from Lakeland that might solve the problem. I've not used them myself but reviews are OK.

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    2. Aw Karen that sounds so annoying! I agree with Peter about perhaps trying a different oil, since olive oil will vapourise at high temperatures. I have a friend who swears by the loaf liners, though I have never used them either.
      You might try thoroughly washing the pans to get rid of any sticky residue, then re-coating them with oil. Perhaps even bake the tins empty, to establish a non-stick layer of baked-on grease (sounds delicious doesn't it?!).
      Sometimes, an extra five minutes in the oven makes the bread come out of the pans more easily. If there are slightly undercooked, they stick.
      I'll let you know if I think of anything else.

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  11. Great for about a couple months. Save your money because the non stick just does not hold up. Everything is sticking and burning to the surface even on lower heat. Were not impressed at all. Just more Chinese junk.

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