There are many different types of bakeware, all designed for a specific end result when cooking or baking. The differences are not just limited to the design, but also include the material from which the bakeware is constructed and the surface it is given. There are several different designs that may be specific to a recipe, but most pieces can be used for multiple purposes.
Bakeware consists of all pans and dishes that can be used in an oven. There are square and rectangular dishes of different sizes, flat pans, fluted pans, cupcake pans, loaf pans, and many other various sizes and shapes of bakeware. Some recipes call for specific pans or dishes to produce the desired result, while others can be made using your personal preference. Size and shape can affect baking times, so it is important to have a recipe that outlines the required baking time for the selected pieces. Cake recipes are a good example of when varying baking times to a certain pan size or shape is necessary.
Bakeware is made from various materials including glass, silicone, stone, cast iron, aluminum, and steel, and each type cooks differently. A piece constructed of ovenproof glass for instance, heats up faster and holds heat longer than metal bakeware, so it often requires a slight reduction in baking time. Similarly, silicone pieces may require adjustments to baking time as it does not absorb the heat, but rather transfers heat evenly through the food. Silicone also stops cooking the minute it is removed from the heat source, eliminating further browning after being removed from the oven. Sometimes, experimenting with the various materials and types, their performance in your oven, and the end result they produce is the only way to find your personal preference.
The different materials used to manufacture bakeware also affect the care required for maintaining them. For instance, stone and cast iron pieces have a porous surface that requires curing before use. Cast iron should be dried quickly after washing in a warm oven or over low heat to avoid rusting. Stone pieces should not be washed with soap unless its surface has been sealed. You should also avoid using metal utensils such as knives or spatulas on non-stick pieces to avoid scratching the coated surface. Follow all manufacturers' cleaning instructions, which will be specific to the product itself, to extend the life of your bakeware.