No one has every baking dish size and shape ever known to mankind just lying about on display in the kitchen. Just stock some standard shapes and sizes, and if a recipe writer calls for something really obscure or that you don’t have, then you can swap using these guidelines.
Metric baking dishes are thought of in terms of how much volume they hold. This actually has one advantage over our way of measuring baking dishes in dimensions, which is that it makes substituting baking pans far easier. Only a few brain cells have to kick into gear to figure out that would fit into a 2 litre round pan would also fit into a 2 litre square pan. A great deal more brain cells may need to rouse themselves to realize that a 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) round cake pan holds the same amount of batter as a 8 x 8 x 2 inch (20 x 20 x 5 cm) square one.
It’s odd that all baking pans today still don’t have their capacity and sizes imprinted right on them; you’re reduced to hauling out measuring tapes and pouring water about like you’re in a kid’s water play centre.
To know how much volume your baking pans hold, use a measuring cup and pour water in (keeping track as you go, of course, and not letting your mind wander.) Or if you’re lucky, it’ll be one of the ones listed in the table we provide. You won’t have to do this for casserole dishes — we already think of these as being in volume by quarts.
When calculating a baking pan to use, bear in mind that recipe writers envision the recipe’s batter filling the pan up only halfway, to allow cakes room in the pan to rise. So if you have 4 cups of batter, don’t put it into a 4 cup baking pan. Once the cake started rising in the oven, you’d end up with 2 cups of batter cooked in the pan, and 2 cups cooked on the bottom of your oven. For 4 cups of batter, you want about an 7 or 8 cup pan to allow room for expansion.
Once you’ve identified a baking pan in your kitchen that will do the trick as far as volume is concerned, the final thing to take into account is whether you are using a baking pan shallower or deeper than what the recipe called for. If shallower, you will probably have to lessen the cooking time and raise the temperature just a smidge (as you don’t want evaporation to dry the batter out); if deeper, more cooking time will probably be required and the temperature lowered just a smidge, so that it doesn’t burn on top while the inside is still raw.) Ideally, you’ll find a pan that’s within 1/2 an inch (1 cm) of the depth the recipe called for, and then no major adjustment in cooking time should be required at all.
With a chart such as the ones provided showing how much volume standard baking pans hold, then substituting becomes — well, a piece of cake. The critical table for baking pan substitutions is the one called “Baking pans by volume.” The measurements of a baking pan are determined by measuring inside the pan, from edge to edge. Depth is measured inside as well.