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Loaf Pan Comparison

Apr 11, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose

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I have a huge collection of loaf pans, and for a long time the clay loaf pan was my favorite just because it was so earthy and bread-like looking. Also, the clay absorbed moisture yielding an extra crisp crust, But one day I noticed that the crumb toward the bottom of the loaf was a little dense which meant it was not getting enough, what is known in the industry as, oven spring.

As I started thinking about it, I realized that even though I was placing the pan on a well-preheated, thick oven stone, the clay did not conduct the heat as quickly to the dough as does metal. Assuming that there might be a difference even between two different brands and types of metal, I decided to test the same exact bread dough side-by-side in two different metal pans: my favorite All Clad metal pan and my new USA pan. Both pans yielded excellent results and had oven spring superior to the clay pan. I also discovered that the USA pan had a slightly superior oven spring and, because it was less wide, a higher rise and, to my taste, a more attractive shape.

Jenny Yee, my dear friend and colleague in New Zealand, who is a food scientist, advised me many years ago, when I was writing The Bread Bible, that the most accurate way to analyze the crumb of bread or cake is by photocopying it rather than photographing it so here are both the photocopy and the photograph to illustrate the difference between the final loaves.

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Comments

Have anyone tasted them both? Is one tasting better than the other?

REPLY

So interesting! I continue to learn about bread baking. I've been baking bread for years but feel I am just now really deepening my understanding. Thanks for the research!

REPLY

Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from CharlesT
04/11/2015 04:15 PM

Charles that is highway robbery--though the pans do have a gold wash! i'll treasure mine more than ever now. and Patricia, i agree with you--i love all my USA pans.

REPLY

Wow! What a difference between photocopying and photographing. The high-contrast certainly gives a better window into the texture of the bread. It's amazing, the simplest change, such as which pan is used, can have such dramatic affect on the finished product. Thanks for sharing this!

REPLY

Quite a difference despite both pans technically being the same size. I wish there were more standardization among brand manufacturers. I love USA pans.

REPLY

Interesting post. I'm not surprised by the metal begin better than clay any more than I'm surprised by the pizza steel being better than stone, but it was worth testing. Sometimes one gets unexpected results.

Also interesting about photocopying of the crumb. One might get the same effect by taking a black and white photograph or even using software to convert a color photograph to black and white, or maybe grayscale. After all, a photocopy machine is just a camera.

BTW, seems like the All-Clad loaf pan is a discontinued product. Amazon does have a seller who will let you have one for $459.00. Hope you didn't pay that much for yours. :-)

REPLY

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