Choosing the right springform pan is all about what you bake and how you plan to bake it. In this article, we’ll outline out the advantages and disadvantages of different types and explain how what you bake affects the right choice for you.
About the Springform Pan
The advantage of springform pans is the removable ring. Instead of digging a slice of dessert from a pan, marring the pan, and crumbling the cake; you simply pop the ring off. You can then cut and serve your dessert right from the base. This is especially significant with cheesecakes and other fragile desserts or cakes that stick to the pan.
In our kitchen, we use both metal and silicone springform pans. We want the freedom to bake something else while there’s still a dessert on the base of the first pan. We’ll reach for the silicone pan when we are going to bake a coffeecake or cornbread. We’ll consider the metal pan for cheesecakes, especially those that have nuts or cookies in the crust and may not be as firm as a graham cracker crust.
Types of Springform Pans
Dark Pans vs. Light Pans
Dark springform pans absorb heat while light pans reflect heat and take longer to bake. Since cheesecakes are slow bakers, adding another five minutes for a light, silvery pan might not make a difference. The two different pans will require different baking times.
We recommend nonstick springform pans. Cheesecakes are fragile. You want to remove the outer ring with as little fuss as possible. That is especially important in those cases when the filling, which tends to cling to surfaces, reaches the ring. Either a coated nonstick surface or silicone will do.
Metal vs. Glass-Based Pans
We recommend glass-based spirngform pans. Metal pans can tarnish and they can impart a metallic taste to a cheesecake stored on the base. When you slice your cheesecake on a metal base, you will mar it. You can purchase both metal and silicone pans with glass bases.
Silicone expands the possibilities of springform pans. The base to sidewall seams are much tighter than anything we’ve seen with metal pans. They are nearly leak proof. If you are only going to bake cheesecakes, it may not matter. But silicone gives you the opportunity to bake runny batters, like cakes and puddings, in a springform pan. For us, this expands the use of a springform pan substantially and is an important consideration. We bake much more than cheesecakes in springform pans and often reach for a springform pan when the recipe calls for another pan.
The silicone ring removes easily. Silicone releases cleanly and you peel the ring from the cake just like peeling a candy wrapper. The ring collapses for easy, compact storage.
Is there a downside to silicone springform pans? To make a proper crumb crust, you need to compress the crumb and butter combination to get it to hold together. It is easier to compress the crumbs against a metal sidewall than a flexible one. My daughter Debbie considers that a significant disadvantage; I don’t.
Springform pans now come in square, rectangular, and heart shapes. It’s fun and impressive to make desserts in these shaped pans. The ones that we have seen are rigid and of high quality. We’ve not found them with glass bases and you won’t find them in silicone. Still, it’s nice to have one of these in your kitchen.
Typically, you’ll choose between a nine and ten-inch pan. It really doesn’t matter much. We’ve yet to find a ten-inch dessert that we couldn’t bake in a nine-inch springform pan. We like the deeper dessert and so choose the nine-inch pan most of the time. A nine-inch pan takes longer to bake than does a ten-inch pan.
There are also six and seven-inch pans available. The advantage of these is that you can split your recipe between two pans and make two desserts. Eat one now and save one or give it away. If you do the math, a six-inch pan has nearly half the area of a nine-inch pan and a seven-inch pan has almost exactly half the area of a ten-inch pan.
(Updated from May 12, 2014)