At some point in your cooking career, you're going to want to make cookies. Or a cake. Or a loaf of bread. Or a pot roast. Or the Thanksgiving turkey. You're going to need to know what pan to use. Things like mixing bowls, proofers, spatulas and such will be in the next diary. This diary is about the different kinds of bakeware you might need.
Bakeware partakes of the same materials as cook pots, and adds one other material: silicone.
Silicone is a flexible material composed of bonded silicone and oxygen. It is inert, does not leach into foods, does not emit fumes, and can go from freezer to oven and back. It is flexible. Very flexible. In using it, it needs to be supported with metal sheets, racks, and supports. Low quality silicone bakeware may have toxic fillers in it emitting strange odors, so choose high quality if you must use silicone. It is not nonstick - you will need to grase and flour it. It is tender and can be easily damaged by sharp implements and abrasive cleaners. Food baked in silicone may not brown as it would in metal or glass, and larger pans will need longer to cook through. Silicon e also builds up static and therefore collects dust, so you always have to wash it before using it.It cannot take oven temperatures over 425 degrees F. It cannot be placed on hot ranges. It comes in a variety of shapes to bake in or to freeze in.
The Essential Bakeware:
If you're going to bake and use a standard oven (gas, electric, propane, wood-fired...), you're going to need a few essential items of bakeware in which to cook the foods.
Round Cake Pan: The most common size is the 9" round pan. If you want to make a layered round cake, you'll need at least 2. If you want to make a tiered cake, you'll need round pans larger and smaller - say an 8" and a 10", or just smaller: an 8" and a 6". A round cake pan can also be used to make cornbread, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, stuffing/dressing, casseroles, and to roast small cuts of meats and Cornish hen sized poultry. You'll probably need to make a tent of foil for the casseroles and meats.
Square Cake Pan: The most common size is the 9x9 square pan - used for brownies, bar cookies, small lasagnas, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, coffee cakes, and such. One pan is usually enough for most occasional bakers.
Rectangular Cake Pan: The common size for this is 9x13, and it's used for lasagnas, sheet cakes, coffee cakes, large batches of biscuits or brownies or cinnamon rolls, and larger casseroles, and roasting larger cuts of meat. One pan is enough for most casual bakers.
Tube Pan: Also known as an angelfood pan, it's used mostly for making angelfood cakes and monkeybread (pull-apart sweet rolls). If you don't plan to make angelfood cakes or monkeybread, you probably won't need this pan. One pan is enough for most people.
Bundt Pan: Bundt pans are measured in cup capacity. The standard size is 10 cup, but specialty Bundt pans can vary in sizes. I have a lot of Bundt cake pans because I use them a lot. One of the non-standard things I use Bundt cake pans for is making Koulibiaca - a Russian salmon and rice pie - and other "family sized" pies. I have also used Bundt pans as gelatin molds, especially the specialty ones. Most people only need one pan.
Springform pan: The standard springform pan is the 9" 10 cup pan. It is a 2 part pan, a base, and the side which opens up and tightens via an outside latch. Even though they are often advertised as being leakproof, over time, even the best springform pan will start to leak, which is why many bakers wrap the outside in foil if using a water bath to bake the cake in or line the pan with parchment paper or quick release foil. This pan is used for making cheesecakes, baklava cakes, bienenstich cakes, deep dish pizzas, tortes, and quiches. Most people only need one round springform pan.
Cookie Sheet: Yes. Lots of them. The standard ones have no sides, just a flat sheet with one raised edge as a handle. This makes it easier to slide the cookies off the sheet and onto a cooling rack. They range is size quite a bit - 14x17, 13x18, 13x9, 14x20, 11x17... so pick the size that feels right to you. Cookies, crackers, biscuits, and hand shaped breads can e baked on a cookie sheet. Actually, three is a good number of cookie sheets to have. I have 5, but then, I bake a lot of cookies for Cookie Day.
Jelly Roll Pan: Closely related to the cookie sheet, and often used as a cookie sheet, is thejelly roll pan. The difference between a cookie sheet and a jelly roll pan is that the jelly roll pan has low sides all around it. Like the cookie sheet, there are no standardized sizes for jelly roll pans unless you buy professional quality pans. Then, instead of measurements, they come as "sheets" - a quarter sheet is 13x9, a half sheet is 13x18, a sheet is 26x18. Jelly roll pans may or may not come with a cover. They are used to bake thin layers of cake that is then rolled into jelly rolls, flat tortes, coffee cakes, pizzas, quiches, large batches of cinnamon rolls and biscuits, and tarts. Most people only need one.
Loaf Pan: The loaf pan is used primarily for baking quick breads like banana nut bread or tea cakes or pound cakes. They are approximately 9x5x3. They can be used to bake loaves of yeast bread as well as quick breads. They usually come in sets of 2.
Muffin Pan: This is the pan with the cup molds in them for baking cupcakes and muffins, mini cheesecakes, small tarts, tiny meat pies, and tiny fruit pies. They come in 6 and 12 mold sizes. Most people use cupcake papers to line them. A 12 mold size is the most common size - most commercial cake mixes make about 24 cupcakes, so having 2 of the 12 cup size handles most cupcake baking needs. If you mix your own batter instead of using a mix, and don't bake for many people, then the 6 mold size is enough.
Pie Pan: This comes in 2 standard depths - regular and deep dish. Most pie pans are 9", but Fat Daddio's makes a 12" pie pan! Some people can probably get away with one, but since I also use them for breading, and sometimes I'll make entire 6 course diners out of pies, I have 8 standard pie pans, and a dozen of the 6" individual pot pie pans.
Baking Stone: I consider a baking stone an essential baking tool, especially for rustic breads, pizzas, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes, and freeform rustic pies. Even when I don't bake with the stone itself, I keep it near the floor of the oven to prevent "hot spots" in the oven and to maintain the temperature better. One is all you'd need, most likely.
Cookie Cutters: If you want to bake sugar cookies in shapes, then cookie cutters are essential. Sure, you could draw a pattern on a piece of baking parchment, cut it out, and place it on your rolled out cookie dough and then use a sharp knife to cut the shape out of the dough, but when cookie cutters are so plentiful and cheap, and come in every shape you can imagine and a few youprobably wouldn't - why?
Nice to Have Bakeware:
Shaped Springform Pan: Springform pans comes in shapes other than round. There's the square pan, the heart shaped, and the long rectangle.
Pullman Pan: If you are a serious bread baker, this pan is essential - it's the sandwich loaf pan that bakes bread to fit in the standard pop-up toaster. It's called a Pullman because it has a lid that helps shape it to the square shape and evenly brown the crust of the bread just like the store bought loaves of sliced bread. It can be purchased in the pound, pound and a half, and two pound loaf sizes.
Mini Muffin Pan: If you like making mini muffins and cupcakes and tarts, this is the pan for you. It's also excellent for making bacon roses, meatballs, and fancy appetizers. They make paper cupcake liners for it, too.
Tortilla Shell Pan: If you like making your own taco salads, tortilla shell and all, this is an essential pan. It can also be used to make brioche, so it's not a one-trick-pony pan.
Baguette Pan: If you bake French bread, particularly baguettes, you'll need a baguette pan to get the shape and crust right. They usually come paired.
Mini Pie Pans: Mini pie pans come as small as 4" up to 7". Over 7" and it's a full sized pie. Four is the minimum number to have for these, as you need time to cool and freeze the pies between batches if you're making lots, and one can/recipe of pie filling fills 4 of the 6" pie pans.
Popover Pan: There's nothing as tasty as Yorkshire puddings with a roast, and the popover pan makes excellent Yorkshire puddings as well as delicious popovers.
Ramekins: Ramekins have many uses, from individual souffles to individual onion soups and pies and such. They usually come in sets of 4 or 6.
Tartlette Tins: Tarlette tins come in many shapes and are all small for making small desserts and appetizers. If you entertain a lot and like making fancy tarts and tiny quiches and such, you will probably never use these. However, they are excellent for children to use in making mud pies.
Casserole Dish: Casserole dishes are covered baking dishes, often made of pyrex or enameled cast iron. They can also be used to roast small or medium cuts of meat and small chickens.
Roaster: A roaster will handle larger cuts of meat and turkeys. This one is a good size for all sorts of things, but you can get them smaller and with lift out racks, too.
Pizza Pan: Pizza pans aren't just for pizzas. they can be used to bake freeform rustic pies and breads, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, scrolls, cookies,
Baked Donut Pan: My daughter loves cake donuts, so I gave her one of these pans one year, and she thinks it's the greatest thing. She uses it to not only make cake donuts, but also cornbread.
Specialty Bundt Pans: I love specialty shaped Bundt pan. NordicWare has the best. they cost between $25 and $40 each, so I don't indulge as often as I'd like - and I generally wait and buy them at estate sales so I get them for just a dollar or two. I have the gingerbread house, the castle, the fairytale house, the pirate ship, the turkey, the star, the cathedral, the bavaria, the fleur de lis, the kugelhopf, the heritage, the rose and the mini roses (but not the rose muffin pan), the queen of hearts, and the heart.
Specialty Cake and Muffin Pans: I also have a huge collection of specialty cake and muffin pans, mostly from estate sales. Most are Wilton or Nordic Ware. They come in a huge variety of shapes. You can bake cakes or pies in them. If you bake a pie in a really deep cake pan, make sure the pie filling is pre-cooked. Once it's filled, I recommend placing a cookie sheet on top of it, flipping it carefully and baking it "upside down" on the cookie sheet. Once the shape has set, carefully lift the specialty pan off and let it the crust brown. You'll really wow people with the fancy shape of your pies! There's also the cast iron cornbread pans, like the cornstick pan, perch pan, starpan, cactus pan, and more.
There is a wide variety of small electric baking devices, everything from bread and pretzels to donuts and convection roasters. I confess I have far too many of these - and use them often, along with my dual fuel oven.
Bread Machine: I have three bread machines and I use them all, sometimes at the same time, especially when I'm baking my Peter Maxx bread (it's 5 different vegetable breads swirled in psychedelic patterns). I've never baked in a bread machine, but I use them for mixing, kneading, and rising the doughs.