A pie plate or pie dish is a round baking dish with slightly slanted sides, used for a variety of basic baking needs. They are usually made out of ceramic, metal, or glass and can come in a variety of colors. A pie plate is an extremely useful tool for any baker, as it can be used for many other recipes besides pie.
Because of the outward sloping sides, a pie plate is somewhat wider at the top than at the base. They are typically measured by the inside diameter of the top rim. Glass and ceramic versions often include a wide lip, helpful in forming fluted crusts or joining double-crust pies. Most pie dishes have an 8-10 in (20-25 cm) diameter, and are between 1-2.5 in (2.5-6.3 cm) deep.
Metal pie plates are usually the least expensive, and may be found in grocery stores or kitchen supply stores. They are typically made of tin or aluminum, although extremely cheap, disposable versions are usually made from stiff aluminum foil. A disposable pie plate is great for toasting nuts and other baking projects that may burn or accidentally stain nicer bakeware. Aluminum foil plates are typically under $3 US Dollars (USD.) Nicer metal versions will cost between $5-$15 USD, and may have perforations on the bottom to ensure an evenly-baked crust.
Glass pie dishes seem to be the most popular with consumers, as they have the added benefit of being able to visually check the bottom crust for readiness. Tempered glass is used in these dishes, which allows them to be exposed to high heat without danger of shattering or chipping. A glass pie plate is somewhat more expensive than a metal version; most are priced between $10-$40 USD.
For a traditional look, a pretty colored or patterned ceramic dish may be your favorite choice. Made out of heavy pottery, these are available in a rainbow of colors. Some may come with decorative lids, to cover the pie and retain warmth after cooking. While they lack the useful visibility of glass pie dishes, ceramic plates can make a charming serving dish and are a wonderful heirloom gift. Although it varies by the manufacturing company, ceramic pie plates are usually the most expensive of the three varieties, ranging from $20-$60 USD.
A pie plate can be extremely useful for many baking projects other than just pie. They are handy for oven-baked cobbler, crisps or coffee cake. In a pinch, they can be used to roast vegetables in the oven, or to make a round loaf of un-yeasted bread such as cornbread or banana bread. Most cooking experts consider a pie plate to be an essential baking tool.