There’s nothing like the smell and taste of home-made bread. While bread makers free up a lot of time, your loaves are limited to the shape of the tin that comes in the machine, so if you want something different you’ll need to use the machine’s dough programme then shape and bake your loaf in an appropriate bread tin. Similarly if you don’t have a bread maker or simply prefer to do it the traditional way, you’ll need to consider investing in some bread tins. The market has plenty of choice so here’s how to make your way through the minefield.
Non-stick bread tins
Greasing a bread tin is a tedious but necessary chore. Butter or lard is better than oil to avoid frying your bread but it can be tricky getting it evenly spread, particularly in the corners. Your grandmother may have sworn by a traditional metal bread tin but non-stick pans are a simpler solution and are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Simply dust the surface of the tin with flour before adding your dough and baking. Legend has it that bread pans don’t need to be washed, but even good non-stick pans can benefit from some maintenance every now and again. Wash by hand in hot, soapy water before greasing and leaving for at least 24 hours before using. Dust the tin lightly with flour, as usual, before adding the dough.
Silicone bread tins
They’re not tins exactly, but silicone bakeware is a popular option in modern kitchens for its low-maintenance, non-stick properties. However it can be too soft to maintain the correct shape when using with soft doughs such as bread and can bulge out at the sides. Keep your eye out instead for silicone loaf tins specially designed for bread, which have a rigid frame at the top to solve this problem.
Glass bread tins
Forget it! They look attractive but are too rigid to be able to manipulate the bread out of the pan easily and are prone to sticking, no matter how liberally you spread the grease.
If you bake a lot of bread, it’s worth getting a couple of different sizes and shapes of bread tin for different kinds of loaf. Apart from the standard bread tins, consider baguette trays, which are specially shaped to free up room and help the baguettes hold their form while baking. A square tin is useful for focaccia share and tear style breads, mini loaf tins are great for a dinner party bread basket, while some crumpet rings are useful for indulgent treats.