Tart pans vary, and the best pan for one individual will be different from the best tart pan for another. Choose a tart pan based on the size and shape needed, the material it is made from, and the cost of the pan. Some tart pans offer removable bases; this is a useful feature only if you plan on removing the entire tart from the pan before serving. If you intend to use the tart pan as a serving dish, then the removable bottom is not necessary.
There are several different sizes of tart pans to choose from. A full-size tart pan generally measures either 10 or 11 inches across, and is used to make quiches and tarts for a group of people. Small, 4-inch tart pans are also available in most cooking and baking supply stores. This size is used to create individual servings. Miniature tart pans are used to create appetizers and small, bite-sized tidbits; they generally measure about 2 inches across.
Glazed ceramic, metal, enamel, and silicon are some of the materials used to make tart pans. Silicon pans are flexible and may have built-in decorative elements; their flexible nature makes it easy to remove the finished tart. A ceramic or enameled tart dish will need to be sprayed with a non-stick coating before baking. Enamel and ceramic pans can feature any color or design and are pretty enough to use as serving pieces; they can go directly from the oven to the table. A metal tart pan promotes even baking and is most likely to have a lift-out, removable base for easy presentation and serving.
A tart pan with a removable base is best for recipes with a firm, solid crust. Once the tart is baked and cooled, the base can be lifted right out of the pan, leaving the sides behind. Ceramic, enamel, and silicon pans do not offer this feature. The base and rim should be stored together and placed flat on a shelf to avoid distorting the shape. Individual and bite-sized metal molds with removable bases are available in sets and can be stacked for storage.
No matter which tart pan you choose, follow the manufacturer's directions for baking and caring for your pan. Different materials require different care and storage procedures. A ceramic or metal tart pan can likely be machine washed; throwing a metal pan in the dishwasher may cause it to rust. Caring for tart pans properly ensures that you will get a lifetime of use from your purchase.