Size Matters — Baking Pan Sizes

Yes, pan size matters when it comes to baking times and temperatures.

Have you ever had cake batter ready to go into the oven and realized you have the wrong size cake pan? Panic sets in. What do you do? There’s always a pan you can sub out for another size. It’s not the end of the world, trust me. I have a few tips I keep up my sleeve.

If, for example, your recipe calls for an 8-inch cake pan and you only have a 9-inch, relax, no problem. Just increase the oven temp by 25 degrees F and decrease the bake time by a quarter.

In this particular example, since your pan is 1 inch larger, more surface area will be exposed. The liquid in the cake batter will evaporate quicker, which means it will bake faster. To compensate, just increase the temp and decrease the baking time. Are you a little calmer now?

Think of it this way:
  • If the pan you have makes the batter shallower than the original recipe, raise the temp and decrease the baking time.
  • If your pan makes the batter deeper than the original recipe, lower the temp and increase the baking time.

Here’s a delicious example: Take my summer recipe for Plum-Upside Down Cake (pictured right). The recipe calls for a 10-inch pan. If you only have a 9-inch pan, lower the temp from 350 degrees F to 325 degrees F and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until done. Easy peasy.

If in the end this seems too complicated, just buy another pan and add it to your bakeware inventory!

Hedy Goldsmith, a 2012 James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef, is the executive pastry chef for the Genuine Hospitality Group of restaurants including Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami and Grand Cayman, and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami. Now in her second season of Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets , Hedy has appeared on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate and lauded in The New York Times , People , Wine Spectator , Bon Appétit , The Huffington Post and Food & Wine magazine. Hedy’s first cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors (Clarkson Potter / Publishers), will be released October 2.

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