Muffin pans are a type of specialty bakeware designed to speed up the preparation of muffins and cupcakes. These pans feature muffin-sized openings or cups formed into the shape of the pan. Muffin pans come in many varieties to suit the needs of different bakers. They include pans made from a variety of materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, and even silicone. Buyers can also choose from different sizes and styles of muffin pans made from each of these materials, including models designed for making mini, standard, and jumbo sized muffins in small or large quantities.
One of the first decisions buyers must make when choosing a muffin pan involves deciding what type of muffins to make. The standard pan features 12 cups designed for baking a dozen standard sized muffins at once. Those who bake larger batches may wish to buy a much larger pan, such as one designed with 18 or 24 standard muffin cups. Half-sized pans are also available, and are designed for those who wish to bake just a half dozen muffins at one time. Muffin pans with larger cups can be used for baking jumbo or oversized muffins, while those with small cups are used for making mini muffins.
After choosing the size and design of the pan, the next decision buyers must make involves what type of material to choose. Traditional muffin pans were made from cast iron or steel, which led to problems with sticking or uneven heating. More advanced models made from stainless steel helped to reduce sticking and made it easier to remove muffins from the pan without damage. These stainless steel pans are still associated with uneven heating, but may represent a good option for those seeking a low-cost pan.
More advanced muffin pans are made using a steel base coated with enamel. The enamel helps to encourage even heat distribution to minimize burnt spots, resulting in consistent quality. This coating also eliminates problems with rust, and prevents the muffins from sticking to the pan.
Aluminum muffin pans represent another mid-range option for bakers. Disposable models made from thin aluminum foil are designed for one-time use, while units made from thicker sheets of aluminum can hold up to repeated use. Aluminum pans offer many of the same benefits of enamel coated ones, yet weigh much less than other types of pans.
The most advanced muffin pans on the market are made from silicone. These pans are flexible, and can be folded up when not in use to save on storage space. They are non-stick, provide even heating, and very lightweight. Some users prefer these pans because they do not absorb heat during baking, thus allowing the muffins to cool in the pan as soon as they are removed from the oven. Silicone bakeware tends to cost more than metal bakeware, on average.