Ovenware Buying Guide

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Ovenware buying guide

A key element of your culinary experience, quality ovenware can change the way you cook.

With the right tools for the job, cooking times can be reduced and results made more consistent. Long lasting materials designed for improved performance will help you get the best from your meal preparation, and make life a little easier.

Our guide to ovenware will help you make discerning choices when shopping for new and improved kitchen equipment.

Usage

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Roasting tray

Roasting pans can be used with or without a rack, making them a versatile addition to your Sunday dinner. A rack allows meat to be kept aloft from the bottom of the pan and juices to run off, while providing space beneath for vegetables to be cooked simultaneously. Roasting pans vary in diameter and depth, and can also be used to create a bain-marie to gently cook delicate dishes like soufflés.

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Oven tray

Oven trays and baking sheets have a versatile flat surface with shallow or no sides respectively, but can be used for the same purpose. Oven sheets benefit from a non-stick coating to allow food to be removed from their surface after cooking, though are often combined with additional lining like aluminium foil or greaseproof paper for easier cleaning up. The multipurpose nature of the oven tray makes it a great value addition to any kitchen.

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Yorkshire pudding tray

Dedicated Yorkshire pudding tins usually have 4 depressions and make side-dish sized puddings, a good portion for accompanying your Sunday roast of choice. Heat is essential for good Yorkshire puddings, therefore your yorkie tray needs to be able to withstand high oven temperatures and sizzling fat or oil to achieve perfect light, fluffy clouds of batter. Smaller portions can be made using a muffin tray, or go traditional with a roasting tin and make one large Yorkshire pudding to carve up and share as desired.

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Pie dish

Usually round or oval with a lipped edge for easy insertion and removal from the oven, pie dishes are available in a wide variety of sizes and depths, enough to rival their range of possible fillings. The lidless design allows crumble or pastry topped pies to crisp during cooking, for a satisfying crunch and easy serving. Pie dishes and pie pans can be made from metal, heat resistant glass or glazed ceramic, and can be taken from the oven to the dinner table to be portioned out.

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Ramekins

Also known as bouillon bowls, ramekins are usually made from glazed ceramic or glass and can be used as serving bowls for condiments, appetisers or individual portions of food as part of a main meal, usually as a starter or pudding. Typically used to present portions of pate, potted shrimp or soufflés, ramekins can withstand the high heat of the oven and even the concentrated heat and open flame of a kitchen torch when used to caramelise the top of a crème brulee.

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Gratin dish

A 'gratin' is a cuisine where a main ingredient is topped with breadcrumbs, cheese, butter or egg and placed under a grill to brown. Gratin dishes tend to be shallow oval shapes with an extended lip at either end of the oval length to allow for easy handling into and out of the oven. The recognisable winged design gives the gratin a more decorative look when served in its baking dish at the table, as is traditional. Used frequently for the cooking and presentation of potatoes gratin and gratin dauphinois where thinly sliced potatoes are layered with cream and cheese.

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Pizza tray

Pizza trays have an easily recognisable appearance, typified by a large round base covered in holes. This punctured design allows the heat of the oven to circulate beneath the pizza to produce a nice crispy base. Sometimes pizza trays also feature raised areas to hold the dough slightly above the tray to improve this further. When air is not able to reach the underside of a cooking pizza it can lead to moisture gathering beneath which can equate to a soggy, doughy bottom. Also useful for flatbreads.

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Casserole dish

Large, deep dishes frequently used as oven- to tableware, with the added benefit of being hob friendly in most cases. Casseroles and casserole dishes are synonymous with hearty one-pot cooking, where meat is browned and vegetables fried off on the hob before being slowly cooked in the oven. Can be open topped or lidded, with deep sides that make them great for creating layers.

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Tagine

Traditionally made from heavy clay, the tagine has a unique shape to ensure no moisture and flavour is lost during cooking. A two part piece of ovenware characterised by a round base with low sides and a dome or cone shaped lid that sits neatly on top, any steam created during cooking becomes condensation that trickles down the sides of the lid, returning moisture to the dish. After cooking the lid is removed and the base is used as a serving dish at the table. Can be glazed or unglazed and come in a range of sizes.

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Baking stone

A modern variation on traditional hot stone cooking, a baking stone provides a flat open area that can be placed on the hob or in the oven. Made from ceramic or terracotta with a durable glazed coating, baking stones provide an even distribution of heat and draw in moisture to ensure your pizzas and homemade bread get a crispy crust. With different thermal properties to metal baking trays and excellent heat retention, food is less likely to burn.

Materials

Ceramic

  • Non-stick surface and PTFE free
  • Scratch resistant
  • Hardwearing, strong and durable

Ceramic ovenware or stoneware is made from a clay mixture that is then kiln-fired and glazed. Valued for its strength and durability, ceramic ovenware has multiple applications, making it a versatile addition to the kitchen. Available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, ceramic conducts heat evenly for a consistent bake and the glaze provides a naturally non-stick surface to minimise the need for oil or butter.

Metals e.g. Stainless steel, aluminium

  • Heats quickly
  • Can be lightweight or heavy
  • A non-stick coating reduces the need for lining with oil or butter

Excellent heat conduction makes metal ovenware a great ally when time is of the essence. Hard wearing and versatile, metal ovenware can be used in the oven or on the hob and is commonly made from relatively lightweight materials like stainless steel, aluminium and copper with a non-stick or enamel coating to improve performance and make cleaning quick and easy. Metal ovenware is durable and their bodies are very resistant to damage, though some coatings can be prone to wear and tear over a period of time.

Cast Iron

  • Durable and long lasting
  • Scratch resistant
  • Exceptional heat retention keeps food hot

Cast iron ovenware has a substantial weight with a thick base and sides giving it a weighty feel. This heavy duty material takes longer to heat up and longer to cool, making it great for retaining warmth when served at the table. Resistant to high heat, cast iron oven dishes are suitable for use in the oven or directly on the hob.

Clay

  • Naturally insulating with good heat distribution
  • Porous in unglazed form, absorbs moisture to produce steam
  • Glazed clay is easier to clean, stain resistant

Also known as earthenware, clay has been valued for its naturally insulating properties for centuries. Heat is distributed evenly through the body of clay bakeware to eradicate hot spots that can cause food to burn. Naturally porous, an unglazed clay pot is able to absorb moisture, producing steam during cooking to create a moist environment that delicately cooks ingredients and intensifies flavours. Glazed clay ovenware coats the surface with a non-porous layer that makes cleaning easier and resistant to staining and lingering odours.

Glass / Borosilicate glass

  • Excellent heat conduction
  • Non-porous and non-stick for easy cleaning
  • Strengthened to be stable in extreme hot and cold temperatures

Glass ovenware and bakeware has undergone a process of tempering to make it safe for use in extreme temperatures like those experienced in an oven or freezer. Resistant to thermal shock thanks to low expansion properties, glass absorbs heat rather than reflecting it for faster cooking. Naturally non-stick, glass ovenware is easy to clean and isn't prone to staining or absorbing odours. A convenient addition to any kitchen, glass dishes provide full visibility of the contents during cooking.

Coatings

Non stick

Non-stick coatings are available in single, double or triple layers for added durability and reduce the likelihood of other materials sticking to it. An essential consideration for any kitchen, non-stick surfaces mean your food won't stick and burn and any residue left after cooking will be easy to clean away. Non-stick ovenware requires very little oil or butter when cooking, making it a healthier option.

Teflon® is the brand name for the original non-stick coating

Enamel

A layer of enamel is fused to a steel or cast iron surface to produce a durable non-porous coating with a glossy appearance. Naturally non-stick, enamel ovenware reduces or removes the need for oil during use for easier cooking and cleaning. The enamel layer also protects the metal underneath from tarnishing and rusting.