Bread Pan Basics

Reader Contribution by Loretta Sorensen
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Many folks bake bread for both the nutrition and freshness and the money saved by not purchasing bread.

I was in that camp when I started, which explains why I used the loaf pans I had on hand. And that helps me understand some of my bread-baking flops.

What I have learned over time is that, ideally, bread pans measure 8-1/2 inches long and 4-1/2 inches wide.

The reason is that when your bread rises, you want it to go up, not out. Loaf pans longer and wider than this ideal will affect the rise of your home baked bread. That wide loaf may not fit into your toaster very well either!

An important step in preparing your pan before you put dough in it is warming the pan so it supports continued rising. This is especially important if you live in areas where winter temperatures are frigid. In summer I sometimes don’t need to warm the pan because our outdoor temps are so high everything in the house is already 90+ degrees!

In an earlier post I recommended aluminized baking pans. One of the reasons for this is the corrugated feature of the pan, which makes it so much easier to slip your baked loaf out of the pan with zero sticking.

My earliest bread baking attempts involved baking in glass pans. It was so fun to see the bread raise, be able to view the browning crust from top to bottom, and keep an eye on the process from start to finish.

However, those wonderful rewards were often crushed when my well-greased glass pan refused to let go of that beautiful loaf! It never failed that the pan managed to cling to a big bite of either the bottom of the loaf, one side, or both.

So I really discourage you from using glass pans, unless you use parchment paper to keep the loaf from stubbornly sticking to the pan. If you do use parchment, be sure to securely press it into the corners of your pan so your loaf finishes with a nice square bottom. You can also cut a piece of parchment that simply fits into the bottom of the pan. A sharp knife can pry the baked loaf loose if it sticks to the sides of the pan.

Another reason I like the aluminized pans is even heating and a lifetime warranty. They do cost more but will give the best service.

I do use a spray non-stick product on my pan right before I place the dough into it. And if you’re using a metal pan or other type of loaf pan for your bread, by all means use the non-stick coating or butter, lard, parchment — something that will make it easy to slip the baked loaf out onto a cooling rack once it’s baked.

If you’re making dinner rolls or buns with your dough, pan size isn’t as critical. Although your buns will rise higher if they’re in a pan that squeezes them together a bit.

Photo property of Loretta Sorensen.

Up next: Preparing your bread baking tools.

Loretta Sorensen makes her home in eastern South Dakota. Read more about her and her family’s draft horses and hobby farm experiences at And if you’re loving this homemade bread tutorial, watch for the release of “Bread Maker’s Primer” in October 2018.

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