The majority of baking trays are rectangular; this is a shape that makes the most of the oven interior. The sides may be very low, which is good to get the heat freely circulating around a joint of meat, or higher, which helps if the food being baked has a lot of juices that may spill from a lower sided baking tray.
Loaf baking pans are also rectangular in shape and are deep-sided. They are used for baking loaves of bread or loaf shaped cakes, such as banana bread or other dessert breads. Loaf pans come in most materials; aluminum is best for an even spread of heat and, therefore, consistent baking, but the softer aluminum pans can get scratched quite easily.
Round baking trays have a range of uses, the most common being for baking pizzas. They may have holes through them to allow the heat to get to the pizza base and crisp it properly. Round baking trays with higher sides are generally used for baking cakes.
Muffin Tin Baking Trays
These baking trays have a series of cupcake-sized indents to hold muffin or cupcake cases in the correct position whilst the mixture inside them is still liquid. They can also be used for making individual Yorkshire puddings, mini quiches, and mini flans. Muffin baking trays are ideal for any cupcake or muffin style baking.
Multiple Part Trays
This type of tray is designed for baking cakes and other dishes that can be difficult to get out of the baking tray after they are cooked. Baking trays with a push up base allow the cook to slide the cake up out of the surround, and then easily remove it from the base without ruining the shape or damaging the edges. These baking trays need to be carefully looked after to avoid warping, as any liquid mixture, such as batter, can leak out of them if the fit between the pieces is less than perfect.
Pattern Edge Trays
Baking trays or dishes with a patterned edge, such as wavy sides, are used for baking pies, flans, or quiches, which need the patterned edge to look correctly finished. These baking trays are often ceramic and the flan or quiches that are baked in them will usually be served straight from the dish.
Care of Baking Trays
A good quality metal baking tray will last for many years if it is properly looked after. The trays should be allowed to cool, at least partly before being washed up, as they may warp if thrust into cold water when they are very hot. Non-stick surfaces should not be scoured or scrubbed too hard as this will damage the coating; ideally they should be stored with a soft layer between them and other metal trays to keep the non-stick layer intact for as long as possible.