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Bakeware Basics

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2009

For the best cakes, pies and muffins, our eight top picks offer quality and durability at an affordable price.

1. Pyrex Bakeware 13-by 9-Inch Baking Pan

Price: $8.99 A multitasker for cakes, lasagna, and casseroles. Ovensafe glass browns nicely and is compatible with metal cutting utensils.

2. Chicago Metallic Professional Nonstick 9-Inch Round Cake Pan

Price: $16.49 High, straight sides and a dark nonstick finish deliver better browning; you'll need two for most recipes. Best Buy Alternative: Baker's Secret Basics Nonstick 9-Inch Round Cake Pan ($4.99)

3. Pyrex 9-Inch Pie Plate

Price: $3.99 Tempered glass, rather than metal, makes it easier to track browning results; plus, glass won't react with acidic fruit to give fillings a tinny flavor.

4. Wilton Avanti Everglide Metal-Safe Non-Stick 12 Cup Muffin Pan

Price: $13.99 Muffins baked in this tin could be removed with ease and were uniformly browned throughout.

5. Frieling Handle-It 9-Inch Glass Bottom Springform

Price: $33.49 The removable sides make a springform essential for cakes (like cheesecake and ice cream cake) that would be impossible to unmold from a standard cake pan.

6. Lincoln Foodservice 13-Gauge Half-Size Heavy Duty Sheet Pan

Price: $15.99 A multitasking pan with duties beyond baking—keep two on hand. Our rimmed baking sheet is on call for cookies, but we also use it for oven fries and veggies.

7. CIA Bakeware 17- by 12-Inch Cooling Rack

Price: $15.95 We recommend keeping two on hand. We use it for cooling baked goods, and it also makes a perfect meat-roasting rack when placed inside a sheet pan. Best Buy Alternative: Libertyware Cross Wire Cooling Rack Half Sheet Pan Size ($5.25)

8. Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-Inch Loaf Pan

Price: $21

The gold-colored nonstick coating on our favorite loaf pan yields baked goods with an even, lightly browned crust.

Best Buy Alternative: Pyrex 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-Inch Glass Loaf Pan ($6.95)