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Equipment & Gear

Baker's Edge

by Michael Chu
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A couple months ago, Andrea from the University of Michigan wrote me an e-mail to let me know of a product that she likes to use when baking brownies and breads. This product, the Baker's Edge, is a pan with additional interior walls to ensure there are no center pieces to a baked good - every piece has at least two edges. After getting my own pan, I set out to see how it stacked up against a traditional pan while baking brownies.

When I received my Baker's Edge, I was surprised by its solid construction. The pan is cast aluminum (about 1/8-in. or 3 mm thick) and weighs 2-1/2 pounds (1.15 kg). The interior finish has a non-stick coating while the exterior is unpolished. The rough exterior makes the pan easy to grip even with oven mitts or pot holders. On top of that, the handle positioning is excellent - they two hand holds are placed about halfway down the side of the pan, so you can easily flip the pan over without rapping your knuckles. The interior walls are placed about 2-1/2 inches (6.3 cm) apart. Due to the slight cant of the side walls, this means the minimum width of the channels are about 2 inches wide. An inflexible red spatula (exactly the right size for the channels) was provided with the Baker's Edge.

When baking, the batter that touches the edges (and the bottom) of the pan cook faster. We often take advantage of this so we'll have browned edges on our baked goods (like on a pound cake). This is because a great deal more heat can enter the food through conduction (and metal conducts heat much better than air). The idea behind the Baker's Edge is to provide more metal surface area to conduct heat. (More everyday examples of this principle in action are the Bundt cake pan and the angel food cake pan. Both utilize a center "tower" of metal to help conduct heat into parts of the cake that normally would be cooked much slower than the exterior.) Does it work? I did a series of tests to find out.

I started with the Baker's Edge and a typical non-stick baking pan (9-in. x 13-in.) and made two batches of Dark Chocolate Brownies. One batch went into the Baker's Edge and the other into the 9x13.



After 35 minutes, the brownies in the 9x13 were done, but the Baker's Edge needed a few more minutes to reach the same doneness. 5 extra minutes was enough to finish those brownies.


The brownies from the 9x13 pan were thinner than the ones made in the Baker's Edge (because the pan has a slightly larger volume) and that may have contributed to its faster cooking time. In addition, the light aluminum sheet used on the 9x13 pan probably allowed it to heat up faster than the Baker's Edge. Both brownies did not pop out of the pans when inverted, so I had to go in with spatulas to dig them out. (Usually, I prepare brownies in a 9x13 by first lining it with a sheet of parchment paper, so I can easily lift them out without ruining the shiny crust that forms on the surface of the brownies and without having to dig out a piece from the pan first.) Once a piece had been removed from each pan, it was easy to cut square brownies and scoop them out. The non-stick coating on the Baker's Edge didn't release the soft brownies perfectly but did do a better job than the other non-stick pan. (Both washed out easily and cleanly with soapy water - which is a great reason for getting non-stick. The Baker's Secret shouldn't be run through the dishwasher, but clean up was so easy, it wasn't an issue.)

Each of the brownies from the Baker's Edge did indeed have chewy edges - two of them (and sometimes three) in fact. It was almost like every piece was a corner piece from the standard pan. Therein laid a problem I hadn't considered. I had tasters that liked brownies with edges and tasters that liked brownies that didn't have any chewy edges but were soft and moist throughout. With the regular pan, I had corner pieces, edge pieces, and center pieces (although there are always more than four people who want corner pieces and not enough edge pieces). For the edge lovers, the brownies from the Baker's Edge were perfect - chewy edges surrounding a moist chocolate brownie. For the center lovers, the brownies were good, but they much preferred the texture of the brownies from the 9x13 pan.

On one of the later batches, I baked the brownies with the Baker's Edge but took them out of the oven earlier. This resulted in a consistent texture throughout - the edges hadn't yet gotten chewy and the whole brownie was how the center lovers liked it. Unfortunately, I didn't really have any edge pieces.

The pan works extremely well if you like chewy edges to your brownies (and other baked goods). If you don't like chewy edges, a bit of recipe time adjustment results in even baking. The only real downside to this pan that I could see was getting that first piece out. Even after several trials, I just couldn't do it without completely destroying that first piece.

For this test, I didn't try them, but the Baker's Edge also recommends breads, rolls, potatoes, casseroles, and more. The instructions came with recipes for brownies, banana bread, lasagna, cookie bars, and a breakfast casserole to get you going.

The Baker's Edge is available through Amazon.com. You can find additional information about the Baker's Edge by visiting http://www.bakersedge.com/.


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Written by Michael Chu
Published on January 24, 2007 at 11:50 AM
19 comments on Baker's Edge:(Post a comment)

On January 26, 2007 at 05:23 AM, Eideteker (guest) said...
Subject: Just say no to edges
Ah, but I like center pieces. Edges are too burnt and crispy for my delicate palate.


On January 26, 2007 at 07:53 AM, apple (guest) said...
Subject: awesome!
thanks for this very helpful report! i love edge pieces :D


On January 26, 2007 at 09:07 AM, Peter (guest) said...
Subject: American cuisine highlight
Slightly undercooked brownies are one of the few highlights of american cuisine. Never spoil them using this "edges" device.
If you like "edges" just fill up two baking tins in stead of one with the same quantiity of dough.


On January 26, 2007 at 04:00 PM, sometimes y (guest) said...
Too bad a recipe scaled for a 9x13 pan doesn't halve into 8x8s. I have a very rich fudge brownie recipe for 8x8 that doesn't double into 9x13 well (too much mush in the middle and burnt on the edges). I just use two 8x8s. But this contraption might work well for doubling a heavy, sugar-rich recipe.


On January 26, 2007 at 11:10 PM, KenManiac said...
Subject: edge vs center
I too prefer the center pieces.

For those who prefer eating on the edge, another option to this admittedly nice pan is to use a cupcake pan. Each piece will be largely edges. Cooking time may have to be adjusted, however.

Anyone feel like trying this method?


On January 28, 2007 at 02:08 AM, Jeff (guest) said...
Subject: Dreams Dashed
Michael, you've inadvertently crushed my dreams of getting rich off of bakeware. I have been sitting on this exact idea for probably 5 years, being one who loves the corners. The guy who brought these to market probably has thought about it for that long too, but I'm both excited to give the pan a try and saddened by the fact that I'll have to finish my ME degree and not be a millionaire college drop out. Oh well, I guess I'll have to keep thinking.


On February 06, 2007 at 03:18 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Please let me know when there is a pan available that let's me cook brownies without any edges. I always go for the center pieces without the edges myself.


On February 06, 2007 at 05:20 AM, GaryProtein said...
Anonymous wrote:
Please let me know when there is a pan available that let's me cook brownies without any edges. I always go for the center pieces without the edges myself.


I've never used them for brownies, but I would try a silicone bake pan. Cakes and breads won't crust and brown in them, so I believe this would be the closest thing to an "edgeless" pan for brownies. Just make sure to bring it into and out of the oven using a pizza paddle because those pans have a tendency to flex and either crack or spill what's in them.


On May 17, 2007 at 05:08 AM, jrodehickey (guest) said...
Subject: All crust brownies & first piece suggestion
I weep with anticipation at the thought of brownie crust in every serving. It also means I get most of them since I live with center people.

Use parchment paper to easily get out the first piece. Cut a piece about 4 x 8 and tuck it into the pan with the ends sticking up. Add batter & bake. Then make sure your first piece is the lined section, and lift out the chocolately goodness intact.


On June 06, 2007 at 03:16 AM, an anonymous reader said...
For edgeless brownies every time, use a cookie pan.


On October 20, 2007 at 04:14 AM, wisemommaerts (guest) said...
Subject: edge or center brownies
As long as someone else is baking the brownies, I'll eat from the center or the edge. I'm an equal opportunity eater when someone else is doing the cooking. ;)


On April 20, 2009 at 03:26 PM, an anonymous reader said...
If you want edges on every piece, try a mini muffin pan, or a bouchon pan. No cutting required :P

Note - use nonstick everything (or a silicon one), or you'll be digging them out with toothpicks. We stick a toothpick in at an edge, and the turn the brownie around in the well before taking them out so we don't end up with half a brownie stuck in there (we don't use nonstick pans, though we probably should).


On December 05, 2009 at 07:57 PM, vintner (guest) said...
Subject: edgeless brownie pan
Spray with cooking oil or wipe down lightly with oil and the brownies fall out when you flip the pan. I absolutely love this pan. I first started using to make my GF (gluten-free) brownie mixes. This is one of the few "gadgets" that does what it says well.

And no I don't work for the company. I just think you didn't master this awesome device. Works perfectly for me.



Cheers!

Lover of the Edges (mix of chewy, more carmalized, browned and complex deliciousness)


On April 15, 2011 at 01:45 AM, Peter (guest) said...
Subject: Baking Pan - Universal Flaw?
About baking pans in general, I notice that all metal ones have folded seams at the corners. This makes that very hard to clean, and I thinks it's a bit unsanitary. No amount of soaking can fix this problem. Can someone help? Also, the pyrex 13 x 9 is slightly larger, and with the rounded corners, I just cant accept it as a substitute for certain things, like brownies or cheesecake bars. Please help, because this seems to be the cause of rusting in those pans.


On April 28, 2011 at 10:38 PM, Wrench (guest) said...
Subject: Love this pan
I got a Baker's Edge pan for Christmas, and have used it a dozen times since then. I simply love it. I love corner pieces and, while it does take a couple of batches to ensure you're getting just the right level of doneness, it's well worth the time. Chewey corners, crunchy top, gooey centers? It's almost like a two-layer brownie.


On September 03, 2011 at 08:59 PM, Rebecca (guest) said...
Subject: I love this pan
The biggest thing I love about this pan is that you can easily cut uniform pieces. When cutting a large pan, I am really bad about uneven cutting. This pan makes it easy.
My aunt bought this for pan for me for Christmas and I now use it any time I make brownies. I find it easier to have an even cooking through out the whole pan then when using a normal 9x13 pan.
But whether brownies are baked with a normal pan or a special pan like this, I love brownies no matter what :D


On October 27, 2011 at 09:50 PM, ruthie (guest) said...
Subject: I never got it
See, this is why I never got, as in grocked, these pans -- I like the soft, chewy brownie with NO EDGES. ;) In fact, when I make them, or a sheet cake, even, I slice off all the edges and put them in my freezer to use for things like crumb toppings, crumb crusts or even rum/bourbon balls.

I've never known anyone who liked the edges, but, clearly, there are lots of crunchy edge lovers around.

However, I have thought about using this for mac and cheese, or polenta casseroles, things of that type, where even I like the crunchy edges. How do you think that would work? Is it deep enough for that to be feasible? Or are the dividing walls too low?


On October 27, 2011 at 09:52 PM, Dilbert said...
I like crunchy edges.

I do brownies in a long rectangle . . . more edges....


On January 08, 2014 at 06:05 PM, ArbitraryUsername (guest) said...
Subject: Brownies
Perhaps someone could develop a pan based on a Klein bottle that would allow the baking of brownies that are all entirely edge-free, which is certainly how I prefer them.

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