I'm a confident, cheerful, endlessly optimistic cook. Need a juicy roast chicken? No problem. A pan of addictively crispy Brussels sprouts? I'm your man. While I've definitely made plenty of mistakes in my time as an avid home cook, I've been at it long enough to adapt and improvise when I'm making a meal.
When it comes to baking, on the other hand, my confidence vanishes. I've been known to leave peach cobbler in the oven until it turned the same color as a rubber tire, and I can't tell you how many loaves of bread have mysteriously refused to rise under my careful, anxious watch. So making cake has been out of the question since the beginning. The risk factor was just too high. Cakes crumble, they fall apart when I try to take them out of the pan, they burn on the bottom and under-bake on the top (how is this even possible?), the list goes on. So when Stella Parks—our resident baking genius—recommended a particular aluminum sheet pan that she swears by for all sorts of savory and sweet baking projects, I was intrigued.
With a name like Fat Daddio's, I was in love with this pan from the get-go. But incredible branding aside, it really is head and shoulders above the pans I'd been relying on for all my home baking needs. This one has a removable bottom, making it extremely easy to transfer delicate cakes once they've cooled. And since the bottom pops out of the pan in one piece, it won't snap or buckle like a springform pan with a latch might do.
The pan's lightweight aluminum conducts heat quickly and evenly, so cakes and bars don't end up spotty and inconsistently cooked. Plus, it's made of reflective material, which reduces browning along the bottom, keeping cinnamon rolls, glossy fudge brownies, and coffee cakes light and delicate. Finally, since it's made of non-reactive anodized aluminum, the Fat Daddio's pan is ideal for making high-acidity dishes like lemon bars and lasagna without worrying about the flavor of metal leeching into your food. All of these attributes make it so much more than just a cake pan; it's as suitable for dinner rolls, hot cross buns, and spanakopita for a crowd as it is for cake.
I don't ever intend to become a master baker, but recently this pan gave me the confidence boost I needed to try my hand at something as bold (and previously inconceivable) as this gingerbread sheet cake with cream cheese frosting. It was fluffy, balanced, just as delicious as Stella's recipe promised, and, to my astonishment, not even a little bit burnt.