A springform pan is a piece of bakeware with sides which can be removed, allowing people to easily remove cakes and other baked goods without the risk of damaging them. Many recipes call for springform pans, especially if they involve delicate foods like cheesecakes, and a springform pan is an extremely useful thing to keep around the kitchen. Many kitchen supply stores sell springform pans in a variety of sizes, and sometimes a few shape variations are available as well.
A classic springform pan has two parts: the sides, and the bottom. The sides are mounted on a hinge, with a clasp to pull the sides together and snap them shut. Typically the pan is round, as this shape lends itself well to an assortment of baking projects. The bottom fits inside the sides once they have been snapped together, typically resting on a small ridge of material. In some cases, the bottom must be fitted into the pan before it is snapped together, creating a tight seal which allows bakers to use the springform pan in a water bath.
Many springform pans come with a bottom which has an indented base which looks like a waffle. This type is ideal for crumb crusts, such as those used to make cheesecakes. It is also possible to find springform pans with smooth bottoms, reversible bottoms, or sets of bottoms which can be swapped out, depending on what sort of baking you are doing. If you can, purchase a springform pan with both waffle and flat bottomed options.
To use a springform pan, bakers simply snap it together and pour batter in, or press a crust into the pan and pour in the filling. The food is baked as directed in the recipe and allowed to cool before the pan is gently unclasped, allowing the sides to open up so that they can be pulled away. Depending on the food which has been made, some people leave the bottom of the pan on, providing a sturdy base, while others gently pull it away.
Many of these pans are made from nonstick materials, although untreated pans are available as well, and in some cases lining the pan with parchment before baking is recommended, whether or not the pan is nonstick. When purchasing a springform pan, look for one which can be cleaned easily, as the hinge and clasp can tend to accumulate gunk, and be aware that pans of different weight can have an impact on cooking times; heavier darker metals will take longer, while lightweight pans will require less time in the oven. The pan and baking time can also have an impact on the texture of finished baked goods, to be prepared to experiment a bit with a springform pan before you find its niche.