The types of cookie sheets Grandma used were lightweight tin sheets that were often homemade, but some could also be purchased at the local mercantile or blacksmith shop. However, times have changed.
Today's heavyweight metal baking sheets can offer better heat conductivity and are more suitable for use in our modern ovens. Some even feature space-age nonstick coatings for easy cleaning. Don't your homemade cookies deserve the best?
The main thing you want to avoid are flimsy, cheap products that warp in the oven at high temperatures and are prone to burn on cooking stains. Lightweight metal sheets conduct heat unevenly, and the results will often frustrate the most patient baker.
Often seen displayed in discount stores and supermarkets, this low-cost variety is never economical in the long run. They're simply waste of your hard-earned money.
Here are several things you need to consider when you consider the different types of cookie sheets:
Size matters, so before choosing a baking sheet, so you really need to measure your oven. Professional cooks claim you need at least two inches of space on either side of your sheet to allow enough hot air to circulate for proper baking.
For example, our new 30-inch built-in oven has racks that are 14 by 24 inches wide. Thus, a 14x20 sheet is the largest size that would work, though a 14x17 sheet would likely be a better choice by offering greater air flow.
Don't rush and buy a something that's too big for your oven. Often, the best cookie sheets come in a set that can provide you with several handy sizes at an affordable price.
Some bakers don't recommend buying a stainless steel baking sheet since stainless steel is a relatively poor conductor of heat. Carbon steel sheets are much better at conducting an even heat, but for fast, more even baking you simply cannot beat aluminum, as it also resists rust and can be placed in a freezer to freeze things.
Bottom line: Aluminized steel sheets can offer both the weight of carbon steel plus the superior heat conductivity of aluminum while preventing rust and warping.
A good nonstick baking surface not only lets the cookies release easily, but it allows easy clean up. Some chefs say light-colored nonstick coatings are the best as darker coatings tend to bake cookies darker on the bottom before the top is done. However, other chefs claim nonstick coatings present health issues.
But, there is a good, safe alternative...
The importance of nonstick coatings has now decreased somewhat due to the increased use of parchment paper liners. Parchment can also prevent cookies from sticking, and it gives a more even result by helping to prevent burning. It also makes it easy to slide an entire batch of cookies off a baking sheet onto another surface.
While a reusable silicone insert will also work well, its added thickness can sometimes inhibit browning. Try parchment and you'll become a convert.
Those who love insulated baking sheets insist they give better results with fewer burnt cookies; however, baking times can sometimes take a wee bit longer so you have to monitor for doneness. But, my wife really likes them.
Some professional chefs often rest one ordinary sheet inside another to get a similar result without the added expense. A thin pocket of air is created between the two sheets which slows the heat when baking delicate cookies.
Then, when a crisper cookie is desired, a single non-insulated sheet is used. This versatility offers a good reason to invest in a pair.
You'll find a good selection of cookie sheets at your neighborhood store or online, often at very reasonable prices. When shopping online, always take time to read the customer comments and benefit from the buying experience of others. Get a set that will give you years of good use and make your baking life easier.