Sheet Pans for Baking

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Sheet Pans in bakingBefore I started baking professionally, I didn’t know what sheet pans were. I had cookie sheets which were flat with upturned ends on which I baked my cookies, breads, rolls, etc.

When I opened my bakery, the first thing I learned was that full sheet pans were what professionals used for several reasons.  A sheet pan has rolled edges all the way around making it about 3/4 inches deep. The most important reason for using sheet pans is when putting them in and out of the oven quickly, whatever is on the sheet pan won’t fall off.

It seems the consumer world has become aware of these and I can scarcely find a cookie sheet available anymore.

The gauge of the aluminum used is important.  The lower the number the heavier the aluminum.  So a number 12 is heavier than a number 18.  The lower gauge is also more expensive but it will last a lifetime. Lighter weight pans can warp and brown the bottom of products more quickly or before the item is fully baked. A gauge of 12 to 18 is good. However, I will say it is sometimes difficult to tell what gauge it is since they don’t put the number on the sheet pan.  If you order through the internet, it is often easier to tell what you are getting. When you search ask for heavy gauge or specify a number.

The sizes of sheet pans are as follows:
Full size (26″ x 18″),
Two-Thirds size (21″ x 15″),
Half size (18″ x 13″),
Quarter Size (13″ x 9″), and
Eighth size (9″ x 6.5″).
Jelly Roll pan (10” x 15 1/4”)

At the bakery and now at the restaurant, I use full sheet pans as well as half sheet pans. However, at home, my oven will not accommodate full sheet so I use half, quarter and an in between size referred to as a jelly roll pan.  The cookie book I am writing has several recipes requiring the jelly roll pan size.

The quarter sheet pan is the same as 9×13 inch pans which are often 2 inches deep.  I particularly like the quarter sheets for brownies, lemon bars and anything that doesn’t need the larger height.  I find they bake more evenly since the heat can go over the entire pan easier than having to dip into the 2 inch pan.

I also double pan some recipes heavy in brown sugar, molasses, honey, chocolate or cocoa so the bottoms don’t burn before the items are baked through.  I discovered that when I wrote my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”.  I was working on my new way of making croissants and found the butter heavy rolls were burning on the bottom very fast.  By doubling the pans, the heat was slowed down to the bottom of the croissants allowing them to bake through evenly.

Lining the sheet pans with parchment paper is routine for me and I highly recommend it.  Silicone mats are another alternative but I don’t like them for a very personal reason.  I am a clean freak.  Chefs who would visit the bakery were amazed at how clean it was.  I was once at a baking show when a product to take burned on gunk off sheet pans was demonstrated.  They wanted me to buy it and I said I didn’t need to I had Clarence. They asked what a Clarence was. It was all I could do to not fall down laughing.  Clarence, I told them, was my utility person who kept my sheet pans spotless.  They said they never heard of a bakery keeping them clean.  Hmmmmm.

Anyway, the silicone mats just don’t look clean to me after using for a while.  They may well be, but I prefer parchment paper that I use once and throw away.

Whatever you use, it helps with clean up.

I don’t know what I would do without my sheet pans.  I also don’t want to find out.Sheet Pans in Baking

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22 thoughts on “Sheet Pans for Baking

  1. Jennie Stites

    Hi, Great tutorial. I began using sheet pans many years ago and do not know how I lived without them.Thanks for the sharing such an informative article.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Jennie – I didn’t discover them until I opened my bakery and that is all that is used professionally. I agree – I couldn’t bake without mine.

  2. Br. Paul Richards

    I frequently bake bread on the bottom side of the sheet pan. I find it easier to slide the loaves off after baking ( we are talking of 40 plus loaves). Plus I like to spray the parchment with a bit of oil so when placing the loaves on the sheet, if I need to move it a bit it will release from the paper quite easily.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hello Brother Paul. That would make perfect sense for production. I use parchment on all of my pans – it makes clean up so much easier. I’ve always loved bread baking but never delved into it as much as I imagine you have.

  3. May

    A new cookbook, Helen? That is wonderful news! I love my 1/2 and 1/4 sheet pans, and good to know one can buy pre-cut parchment paper.

    For anyone searching, you can sometimes find good quality smaller sheet pans at TJ Max, etc, for a great price if you’re lucky.

    Looking forward to finding out what food processor you choose to replace your recently departed one! I have the big Breville, and it’s very powerful indeed. Love it.

  4. KariG

    Hi, Helen. Thank you for this post. T certainly reminded me that I need to get into the market for new ones. Drives me crazy to hear the snap of a warping pan!!!!

    Would a restaurant supply store be my best bet to get heavy gauge in multiple sizes?

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Either a restaurant supply store or the internet. The only place I found the jelly roll pans are online but the full, half and quarter sheets should be available at a restaurant supply store. I’ve never seen a 2/3.

  5. debbie

    I do use parchment regularly, but sometimes “stuff” gets underneath—just need to break out the old Brillo pad—was hoping for a shortcut!

  6. Eileen Murphy

    Thank you Helen, I began using sheet pans many years ago and do not know how I lived without them. Great to have the info about various sizes.

  7. Lynette Pruett

    Helen, I discovered half sheet pans 31 years ago when I made my first foray into a restaurant supply store. I had no professional baking experience, and was only baking at home for my family, but I was sure that these pans would make a world of difference. I snapped up four of them, very heavy gauge although I don’t know the number, and have used them at least once a day since! And always with parchment sheets, a trick I learned from reading the King Arthur Flour blog. Back in the dark ages I bought my parchment on rolls, in the baking section of craft stores, but since have only purchased half sheet pan sized sheets, at 13X18, and they are the absolute best. No cutting, no curling, and no running out of the roll with only a half pan worth of paper left! I think of all the things I’ve learned about baking, using half sheet pans and parchment have been the ones which have had the biggest effect on baking results. Hmmmm…oh, I need to add my kitchen scale to that list! It’s so much fun to bake at home using products which make it efficient and the results incredible!
    Thank you for bringing to mind so many ideas which make our baking more fun.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Every word you wrote is true. A few pieces of good equipment will make baking so much easier and enjoyable. I just broke down and got a new processor. My old one was, let’s say, past ready to retire. It is a joy to use and I can’t believe the improvements to the machine. Thanks for sharing your baking experience.

  8. debbie

    Guest post from Clarence?? I need his secrets to getting those pans clean—mine tend to accumulate spots over the years, even though I don’t use products such as PAM.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Debbie – Unfortunately Clarence is no longer with us. What Clarence, my husband and I did was make sure each time the pans were used to make sure everything, including the corners, were scrubbed clean. Mike is also especially good at it. Not me so much which is why I am so happy to have had Clarence and still have Mike in my life. I agree that Pam is a problem as are most sprays. We used something called Vegeline. It is the same as Pam and will gunk up the trays if not gotten off each time. I wish I could be more help but, honestly, this is all we did.

    2. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Debbie – again. I just thought the primary reason our clean up wasn’t too difficult. Clarence had over 200 sheet pans and everything else he had to do in a day. We used parchment paper every time we used a sheet pan. That kept most of it clean. I still do. Parchment, or in some cases, foil goes on every pan I put into the oven. That takes care of most of the cleanup. We also didn’t have to prepare the pan in any way. Just plunk down the parchment and we were good to go. Hope this helps.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Sally – I sure will. It will not be until next year but it will include both American and European cookies. It’s a ton of work but I,m very excited about it.

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