THE best baking trays don't have to be the most expensive.
We tested a whole range of options to find the best ones you can buy now and explain how to find the best option for you.
What’s the best material for baking trays?
There is no one size fits all option when it comes to the best baking tray but aside from the size, shape and price, one of the most important things to consider is the material it’s made of.
Metal baking trays are the best – they’re strong, sturdy and you don’t have to worry about them breaking if you accidentally drop them, unlike glass or ceramic.
The majority of metal baking trays are made from steel with a non-stick coating.
These are suitable for a range of different tasks, including baking cookies or roasting vegetables, which makes them very versatile. They can also be produced quite cheaply, which means they can be more affordable.
But steel can be very heavy, and that’s where hard anodised aluminium trays come in. Aluminium is much lighter than steel, and the anodising process makes it extremely tough and gives it a non-stick coating.
You can also get vitreous enamel-coated baking trays, which are capable of withstanding much higher temperatures, including direct heat. It means you can use it on the hob before popping it in the oven, or vice versa.
Do check your manufacturer’s guidance before using it on the hob though, as quality might vary.
Here are the popular baking trays we’ve tested and loved.
1. Lakeland multi-purposes oven tray
- Lakeland multi-purposes oven tray, £9.99 from Lakeland – buy here
Lakeland’s multi-purposes oven tray was a great all rounder for us.
The carbon steel material offered great heat distribution (up to 240C) while the non-stick coating meant food lifted off easily, even without greasing.
The feature we loved was the lack of rolled edges – it meant that water doesn’t get trapped while you’re washing up only to escape unexpectedly when you’re putting the tray away.
2. Wilko 4-pack roasting starter set
- Wilko 4-pack roasting starter set, £5 from Wilko – buy here
It’s hard to beat Wilko’s 4-pack roasting starter set in terms of value for money.
You get a loaf tin, Yorkshire pudding tray and cake tin which will all nest inside the main baking tray, making storage super easy.
It has a non-stick coating with a five-year guarantee but depending on what you’re making, you may need to lightly grease it too.
3. Tala Performance baking tray set
- Tala Performance baking tray set, £14.99 from Amazon – buy here
Another great value set comes from Tala’s Performance range.
The baking trays – a big and two small ones – are made from carbon steel with a durable non-stick coating that you can use metal utensils on.
You also get a 10-year guarantee and we found that it was super easy to clean as well.
4. Dunelm pastel oven tray
- Dunelm pastel oven tray, £5.60 from Dunelm – buy here
Dunelm’s pastel oven tray is made from non-stick coated carbon steel and has a cream-coloured base and a silver top.
It has slightly higher sides compared to the other trays we tested, which makes it a great option if you're making tray bakes.
It’s hand-wash only, although we found that the stuck on bit rinsed off easily.
5. Circulon Ultimum large oven tray
- Circulon Ultimum large oven tray, £15.99 from Lakeland – buy here
The Circulon Ultimum large oven tray was one of the biggest we tried – it spanned the width of our oven so there was no need for a shelf.
We found it was best for items that you might need to shake during cooking, like chips, and there was no need to greasy or line the tray.
The tray features a groove pattern on the base, which helps to reduce wear and tear during use but any cooking juices will collect in the dips and can make cleaning up a bit more time consuming.
6. KitchenCraft Masterclass non-stick baking tray
- KitchenCraft Masterclass baking tray, £12.45 from Wayfair – buy here
For anything that requires crisping up – think day-old baguettes, chips or thin-crust pizza – go for the KitchenCraft Masterclass non-stick baking tray.
The holes in the base helps air to circulate, producing a much drier and therefore crispier finish.
The flip side of that is the tray isn’t suitable for soft doughs, anything that will produce liquids during cooking or anything that might fall through the gaps.
7. Dunelm Professional oven tray
- Dunelm Professional oven tray, £10 from Dunelm – buy here
For bigger families on a budget, this 41cm oven tray from Dunelm’s professional range is a great choice.
There’s plenty of room to roast vegetables for the whole family or bake a big batch of cookies.
Depending on what you’re making, you may want to apply a light coat of grease though.
8. KitchenCraft Masterclass vitreous enamel baking tray
- KitchenCraft vitreous enamel baking tray, £16.68 from Wayfair – buy here
The vitreous enamel coating on this baking tray from KitchenCraft means you can use metal utensils on it and it’s safe for direct heat, including induction hobs.
This will come in handy if you’re making roast potatoes and want to keep the pan hot or if you’re making gravy after a roast.
However, we found that it was slightly harder to clean than some of the other trays we tried and if you’re in a hard water area any streaks will be very visible.
9. Lakeland hard anodised oven tray
- Lakeland hard anodised oven tray, £27.99 from Lakeland – buy here
Lakeland’s hard anodised oven tray is much lighter than some of the steel ones we tried and can withstand temperatures of up to 250C.
There’s no rolled edge on this one, which means there’s nowhere for water to get trapped during washing.
The surface is quite rough compared to some of the other trays we tried – it doesn’t affect the use, but it can affect the look and feel.
How to grease a baking tray
First, check whether you need to grease the baking tray.
If you grease a tray for an angel food cake for example, the cake won’t rise properly. And for things like cookies, the fat in the recipe will effectively grease the tray while it’s cooking.
If you do need to grease the tray, you can choose any fat, although a solid one like butter or lard will go on easier than liquid ones like sunflower oil, especially for non-stick trays.
You simply apply a thin, even layer of the fat using some kitchen paper, greaseproof paper, basting brush or even your fingers if they’re clean.
For things like cakes, where you need it to release in one piece easily, you can also dust with flour and/or line it with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
To dust with flour, add a tablespoon of plain flour to your tray after you’ve greased it and shake it until the entire surface is coated. Then you just turn it upside down and pat the base to get rid of the excess flour.
To line it with greaseproof paper or baking parchment, you just need to cut out a piece that’s the size of the base of your tray and place it inside after you’ve greased it.
How to clean baking trays
Some baking trays are suitable for the dishwasher, which makes things nice and easy if you have one.
But one with a good non-stick coating should make washing by hand easier as well – just wash with some soapy water and a sponge.
If your food is really stuck on though, you should soak the tray with warm soapy water for around half an hour to loosen the stuck on food before using the scourer on your sponge to remove any bits that remain.
You should only use metal scourers on trays without a coating as otherwise this will damage the tray.
For stubborn stains, whether it’s refusing to budge or because it’s caked in after long periods of use, you can try covering it with baking soda and then white vinegar and hot water.
Allow it to soak or half an hour to an hour before scrubbing with a scourer.
Keen bakers should also check out our round up of the best rolling pins.
We’ve also selected the best cake tins, whether you’re looking to make classic Victoria sponge or trendy tray bakes.
And if you need a helping hand in the kitchen, why not see whether a stand mixer can make things easier? We reviewed KitchenAid’s Artisan 4.8l version.
Source: Read Full Article