There are many different types of baking dishes, made of a wide range of materials and each one has benefits and negative points depending on what it is to be used for. Classic style ceramic dishes have been around for years, and they are reliable, easy to clean, and low maintenance, whereas non-stick baking dishes have the benefit of needing less scrubbing to get them clean, but need more care to keep them at their best. The choice comes down to the individual cook, their lifestyle, and needs, but there is sure to be the ideal baking dish out there for everyone.
Things to Consider when Buying a Baking Dish
Given the limited number of tasks the baking dish will be used for, putting extra thought into the decision of which dish to buy may seem a little much. It does pay off, however, to have contemplated the following points.
Baking Dish Uses
What will the dish be used for? This seems an obvious one, but the dish may need to be suitable for freezing if food will be stored in it, and if it is to be used as a serving dish as well as for baking, then it must match existing tableware or at least be attractive enough to place on a dinner table. Baking dishes may also need to be microwaveable if food is to be reheated in them, and dishwasher safe if this is how they will be washed, although baked on food is often too much for even the best dishwasher.
If a dish is to be put in the oven straight from the freezer and then placed on a dining table, it will need to be able to cope with large and rapid temperature changes; this type of rough treatment may cause cracking or warping in some materials and is worth considering before purchasing any baking dishes.
Baked on food can be hard to remove at the best of times, and a non-stick coating inside a baking dish can make this task a whole lot easier. However, a baking dish with a non-stick coating will need extra care, including not using metal serving utensils with it and careful cleaning and storing to conserve the life of the non-stick coating.
Size and Shape
It may be preferable to buy a range of slightly cheaper baking dishes with varied sizes than just one, although it is possible to get dishes which have adjustable sizing. For those with large families, one large baking dish may be sufficient, whereas for those with smaller day-to-day needs, but with a love of entertaining, a variety of sizes will be more suitable.
Ease of Care
This is an important consideration, as baking tends to weld food onto its container, especially if there are any overflows. Non-stick coatings can help to alleviate this, but it is a good idea to consider materials that can be soaked or scrubbed, and that are dishwasher safe. Some solid iron baking dishes may need a coating of oil and dry storage conditions to keep them corrosion free.
Does it Need a Lid?
Some baking dishes come with lids, which is great for anyone wanting to cook a lot of casseroles as a lid helps keep in the juices, and the food will cook slowly and evenly, especially at the lower temperatures needed for slow cooked dishes.
Types of Baking Dish
Baking dishes come in a wide range of types and styles.
Glass and Pyrex
Pyrex is actually a brand name; all Pyrex is glass, but not all glass is Pyrex. Glass baking dishes are very versatile; they can go from freezer to oven safely, and although not unbreakable, they are very durable. Glass baking dishes can be scrubbed, soaked, microwaved, and put in the dishwasher with no ill effects. They rarely lose their good looks, although the glass can become a little discoloured after prolonged baking; coloured glass will hide this. It is possible for glass baking dishes to shatter under certain circumstances, but if the manufacturer’s instructions are followed properly, this is very unlikely to happen. To minimise this risk, never place hot dishes straight into water, don’t use them at extremely high temperatures and never use glass dishes that are already damaged in any way. Pyrex baking dishes and glass baking dishes are a practical and safe baking choice, and if used correctly, they will last for many years
Non-Stick Baking Dishes
Non-stick coatings are common in roasting trays and can also be found on baking dishes to help stop the food sticking to the container. Food cooked at high temperatures for extended times can still become stuck to a non-stick coating, and it is harder to remove without damaging the baking dish. Metal utensils should never be used on non-stick coatings as they will scratch the finish and make it ineffective; non-stick baking dishes should be left to cool before washing so that they are not exposed to sudden changes in temperature that may warp the metal. They are generally safe to clean in the dishwasher, but some manufacturers may advise against this. Non-stick baking dishes should be stored with a soft protective layer between them and other metal or sharp materials that may scratch the surface.
Ceramic Baking Dishes
This versatile material is commonly used for baking dishes and is usually safe to go straight from freezer to oven, and then right onto the dining table. The colourful and attractive designs that ceramic baking dishes come in make them attractive as serving dishes, as well as for baking the food, which significantly cuts down on the washing up. They can be difficult to clean as most of them do not have non-stick properties, but this means that they can be soaked and scrubbed to remove stuck on food without any danger of damaging them. Ceramic dishes are generally microwave safe as well, but beware of one with metal trim or patterning; these should definitely not be put in the microwave, as the metal will spark.
Silicone Baking Dishes
This is a very new material for baking dishes, and can appear a little flimsy; there are various support frames to give some extra strength to a silicone dish. These pans are safe to freeze, microwave, oven bake, and are very easy to clean. They are also easy to store, with no special requirements and no chance of rusting or warping. It is important not to use sharp knives that could damage the material, and to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on maximum temperatures so as not to damage the material; they must never be used over an open flame such as table heaters or a gas hob. They come in a range of bright colours so can go straight from oven to dinner table if required. Silicone baking dishes are a new concept, and worth a try as they have many great qualities.
Ceramic over Metal Baking Dishes
These tend to be in the higher price range of baking dishes, but have many benefits to make them worth the money. The heavy metal dish spreads heat evenly across its surfaces and, therefore, is perfect for baking casseroles and other slow cooked dishes. The ceramic coating is attractive and can be matched with a whole range of other serving dishes to look good on a dinner table. They are easy to clean, although soaking may be required on the inside, the ceramic coating on the outside should wipe clean relatively easily; many ceramic over metal dishes also have a non-stick coating on the inside giving the best of both worlds.
Buying Baking Dishes on eBay
There are many different categories for baking dishes on eBay, so anyone wishing to buy one should have at least a general idea of what they are looking for before starting to search. The quickest way to reach Baking Dishes from the eBay categories is to go to Home & Garden from the eBay homepage. After then having selected Home & Garden again, from the Furniture & Living tab at the top, it is just one click on to Cookware, Dining & Bar, where Baking Dishes can be easily found from the keyword search at the top of the page, or by further investigating the categories to the left. Manufacturers will have matching sets of baking dishes that can be transferred straight to the table; it is worth considering future requirements if one is buying matching baking dishes that will double up as serving dishes as it may not be possible to get the same pattern or colour in the future. Purchasing everything at one time can protect against this
Anyone who would like to buy baking dishes on eBay will have plenty of choice; ceramic on metal dishes for a straight-to-table style that is easier than serving into cold serving dishes, or glass baking dishes that let the chef see the food as it cooks and will remain elegant and undamaged for a long time. For those that like new technology, then the silicon dishes are a state of the art way to bake. It is important to read the manufacturer’s directions as the product is new and unknown in many ways.