Cheesecake pans come in many sizes and shapes. They are made of anodized aluminum, stainless steel or silicone. Round pans range from three to 12 inches in diameter. There are square and rectangular pans and there are even heart-shaped ones. Whatever the shape, size or material, a cheesecake pan has one essential feature — it has a removable bottom. A cheesecake cannot be inverted to remove it from the pan. The removable bottom makes it possible to separate the cake from the pan without damaging its top, sides and bottom.
The pan that most cheesecake bakers prefer is the springform pan which consists of two parts — the collar with a latch and the bottom. The collar has a groove near the base to which the bottom part of the pan is aligned then locked into place by securing the latch.
I have an eight-inch springform pan and a six-inch springform pan very much like the one in the photo (yep, same brand too). I no longer use them. The bubble-like surface of the bottom of the pan makes it a pain to separate the crust from the metal after the cheesecake has cooled and chilled. That used to be a non-issue as I would simply serve the cheesecake still attached to the bottom of the pan. But when I started selling cheesecakes, well… I could hardly deliver the cakes while still attached to the pan’s bottom. If I did, that would mean endlessly buying springform pans and that translates to loss rather than profit.
One technique I tried was to line the bottom with greaseproof paper but while it made separating the crust from the metal easier, it was also difficult to peel off the paper from the crust once the cheesecake has been completely released from the pan. So, I gave up on my springform pans with the bubble-like bottoms.
Another thing about springform pans is that, depending on the quality, improper washing AND DRYING can make the movable parts of the latch rusty.
Still, for those who like springform pans, I recommend the kind with a smooth bottom. I have two of those and I don’t have problems separating the chilled cakes from the bottom part of the pan.
Removable bottom pan
The pan with removable bottom is my favorite kind of cheesecake pan. There are no latches that can turn rusty, there is no groove running around the collar (grooves in any cooking pan make it harder to wash) and there is no struggling to make sure that the bottom and the collar are perfectly aligned. Just drop the bottom part into the collar and the pan is ready. When the baked cheesecake has chilled and and crust is firm, I simply insert a large spatula where the crust ends and the metal begins.
Apart from the absence of a latch, another difference of the removable bottom pan from its springform cousin is the sides of some (not all) removable bottom pans are flared with the diameter of the top slightly larger than the bottom diameter. A cake baked in an eight-inch springform pan will come out a bit taller than one baked in a removable bottom pan with flared sides. The latter will also have a larger top surface area. For people who decorate the top of their cheesecakes, that can be either an advantage or a disadvantage. A larger surface area means a larger area to decorate which can translate to additional amount of ingredients. On the flipside, it is easier to decorate a large surface area than a small one.
Cheesecake pans with silicone seal
Cheesecakes are baked in a water bath. The cake pan is lowered into a larger container, hot water is poured in to reach to about half the height of the pan and everything goes into the oven. The way that the cheesecake pan is constructed, it is more than possible that water will seep through the crack between the bottom part and the collar. Bakers prevent this from happening by wrapping the bottom and sides of the pan with two layers of aluminum foil. It’s a pain, no doubt, that any cheesecake baker will want to skip.
Lately, I’ve been seeing cheesecake pans with a silicone ring on the underside of the removable bottom. I’ve never used one but, having used silicone baking pans in the past, I am positive that that pliable silicone will lock the bottom and collars together and prevent water from seeping in. Goodbye, aluminum foil.
Non-stick cheesecake pans
Non-stick baking pans are more expensive than regular pans. Is the non-stick feature really essential for cheesecake pans? Okay, I have baked using non-stick springform pans with smooth bottoms and, I must admit, separating the crust from the bottom has never been so easy. Does that mean that I heartily recommend non-stick cheesecake pans? Not exactly.
Non-stick cookware and bakeware come in different price ranges. Cheap bakeware warp and the coating of cheap non-stick baking pans chip and peel after a few uses.
What kind of cheesecake pan should a baker choose?
If you’re a baking newbie, it makes sense not to splurge on pricey bakeware while still learning the basics. Many go for cheaper bakeware. From experience, that is a huge mistake. The quality of the baking pans, the thickness of the metal, the sturdiness… all these affect the baked product. You may not notice it right away, you may even think that you’re just bad at baking but, sometimes, it’s all about using the right bakeware. My suggestion is to buy only a few pieces in the beginning but get the best quality pans that you are not too comfortable spending on.