If you are a novice baker or you want to break into the bread-making world, you might think that a bread loaf pan is an absolute necessity. Making the perfect loaf of bread could be considered an art form. So, do you actually need a specific bread loaf pan to shape your bread successfully? Regardless of the kind of bread you want to bake, and what shapes you hope to make, you are not required to use a specific bread loaf pan. You can make delicious bread and shape it how you like, even in to creative shapes, without using a bread loaf pan. Read on to learn all about how to shape bread without a loaf pan and what other dishes you can use.
Can I Bake Bread with a Glass Pan?A glass pan can be used to bake and shape bread just as easily as a loaf pan, and in some cases, a glass pan may work even better for your needs. There are even glass bread pans. However, there are certain things that you must be aware of before using a glass pan for baking anything, especially your bread. Glass pans:
- Are nonreactive
- Retain heat more than regular pans
- Are sensitive to temperature changes
NonreactiveDifferent types of pans, like metal, aluminum, and other materials of the bread pan, may tend to retain certain flavors that have been baked into the pan before if they are not thoroughly washed and sanitized before their next use. This means that anything that you bake in a typical pan may leave unwanted flavors for whatever you bake next. However, glass pans do not work this way. Glass pans and dishes are nonreactive, meaning that they do not typically retain any flavoring from their last use. This makes glass pans great for baking bread. Glass pans will leave the bread tasting like bread and not something that you baked last week.
Heat RetentionGlass pans tend to retain heat more efficiently than their counterparts. This means that you may have to adjust your cooking temperature and cooking times for your standard recipe to make sure that the bread does not get overcooked. Most recipes will call for an adjustment of 25 degrees in cooking temperature while using a glass pan. Check with your recipe and determine any adjustments that might be needed while baking your bread in a glass pan. Additionally, using a glass pan for baking your bread may lessen the amount of baking time needed. While individual oven baking times may vary, bread baked in a glass pan may be done before the time listed on your recipe. Make sure that you begin checking your bread at least 10 minutes before the time listed for baking on your recipe. If it is not finished at that time, give it another five minutes before checking again. Remember, the baking time may be less with a glass pan. You should keep an eye on your bread and check it often to ensure it does not overheat.
Temperature of Glass PanWhile a glass pan is perfectly fine to bake bread in, you must do so properly to avoid injury or other issues in the baking process. Make sure:
- The glass pan is room temperature
- Cooking times are adjusted
Baking and Shaping Bread with Other DishesThere are other ways to bake bread other than using a loaf pan or glass pan. Items that you can likely already find in your kitchen will all work just as well. These items include:
- A Skillet
- A baking sheet (or one of our Top Notch Kitchenware – Modular Baking Steel Pizza Stones)
- A casserole dish
- A cake pan
Using a Skillet to Bake and Shape BreadWhile it may seem odd to think that you can bake bread using a skillet, it is something you can use in place of a loaf pan. If you have a spare cast iron skillet lying around, feel free to use it in the baking process. If you are going to use a skillet for baking bread, you must make sure that the bread design is one that will easily fit in the skillet while it is baking. Using a cast-iron skillet for baking would be suitable for rolls or other smaller bread objects, provided the skillet is greased well.
Using a Baking Sheet (or Baking Steel Pizza Stones) to Bake and Shape BreadAnother common item that can be used instead of a loaf pan to bake bread would be a baking sheet. You can utilize parchment paper or make sure that the baking sheet is greased before placing any dough on it. This will prevent the dough from sticking. Take the design of the dough that you have chosen and place it on the greased baking sheet. Bake the bread as directed in the recipe. Baking sheets can be made to bake almost any type of bread that you desire. I frequently use a baking sheet to make crescent rolls for Sunday dinners such as the image above using our very own crescent roll recipe.
Using a Casserole Dish to Bake and Shape BreadIf you do not want to use a skillet, baking sheet, or loaf pan, you can always turn to the trusty casserole dish that you have lying in your kitchen somewhere. Simply grease the bottom and sides of the dish and then place the dough inside. Casserole dishes are like the other methods listed above because you can use them for baking almost any design you desire. The size of the dish allows for:
- Braided bread (see my husband’s favorite Taco Bread Braid recipe)
Using a Cake Pan to Bake and Shape BreadCake pans can also be used to bake your bread, but it does not leave a lot of space to be creative. Therefore, your options are limited as to the type of bread you can bake and the shapes you can make. A cake pan would be good if you are making bread in the shape of a cake, rolls, or something else small that has the room it needs to bake. Make sure that the cake pan is properly greased down before placing any dough inside so that it does not stick to the pan when the baking is done. You can also bake a killer monkey bread using our Fast Easy Monkey Bread Recipe in a bundt cake pan.
How to Shape Bread without a Loaf PanNow that we have explored different methods for baking bread without a loaf pan, we can look at creative ways in which to create bread by hand without a loaf pan. Most of these call for the use of an egg wash.
Egg WashEgg wash is used in the baking process for various items, including bread. For those that do not know exactly what an egg wash is or what it is used for, read below. Egg wash can simply be the entire contents of an egg beaten into a well-mixed liquid. It can also be the contents of the egg combined with some liquid, i.e., milk, which adds to the baking process. Egg wash is used for many reasons during the baking process. Some of them are:
- To enhance the appearance of bread and baked goods
- To act as a seal for bread and baked goods
- To act as a glue for bread and baked goods
AppearanceIf you want the bread you are baking to come out looking shiny and golden brown, then using an egg wash that consists solely of the contents of the egg is the route to go. Simply mix up the yolk and the rest of the egg together to make a completely mixed liquid. Spread the liquid on top of the dough using either a brush or spoon to make sure that it is spread out evenly. When the bread is finished baking, it will come out of the oven looking shiny and golden brown.
GlueEgg wash could also be used to keep portions of the bread together while it is baked. For instance, if you add some seeds to the top of the bread, it will not stay on as you want during the baking process. However, if you add egg wash onto the bread before placing the seeds on top, the egg wash acts as a glue keeping the seeds where you want them as it is baked. The same holds true for anything else that you want to add for appearance or taste to the bread while it is baking.
SealSome bread, when baked, begins to flake and fall apart. To prevent this from occurring, use an egg wash to help seal and glue everything together. Additionally, if you are placing any filling into the bread, e.g., fruit, then you will want to put an egg wash on the top of the dough while it is baking. The egg wash acts as a seal which helps to keep whatever contents are inside of the bread there instead of spilling out during the baking process.
Bread Designs You Can Make Without a Loaf PanAs stated above, there are many different ways in which you can mold your bread while expressing your uniqueness, all while forgoing a loaf pan. Some examples of this are:
- Boules (a round loaf of bread)
BoulesMaking bread in what we have all come to expect from the grocery could be boring. Why not mix up your design a bit and shape it in the shape of a boule. The boule shape is round and is easy to make, dividing the dough into smaller pieces. Roll the divided pieces of dough into the shape that you desire and place them on parchment paper and cover them lightly with plastic wrap while they rise. After they have risen, remove the plastic and brush an egg wash over the top of them. Once you have put the egg wash on the boule bread, slice the tops of the dough in any shape you desire to allow for the steam to be released from the bread while it is baking. Bake the bread in high heat in the oven as directed by your recipe.
BaguettesAnother design you can use to make your bread without a loaf pan is baguettes. Baguettes are formed to make long skinny bread and are rolled by hand. To make baguettes, ensure that the dough has already risen and put it on a flat surface that has been covered in flour. Form a roll with the dough and begin to spread it out as if you were using a rolling pin to flatten it down and spread it out. Once the bread design has been formed, place it on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cut the top of the bread with a knife down the center to allow for the steam to rise out of the bread while it bakes. If you want the top of the baguettes to look shiny and golden brown, make sure that you spread an egg wash on top before baking.
BraidsBraided bread is much like the name suggests, molded bread to look like the braids formed in hair or yarn. The simple design is one that can be done by hand and is another that does not require a loaf pan. To make a braid design, follow any of our braid recipes or watch my Taco Braid Video to see a demo of how to make it very easy. If you just want a plain bread braid without a filing then you can also do that. Simply take the three pieces of dough and roll them into long logs that will roughly be the same length and width. Once this has been completed, braid each piece of dough by crossing one over and under the other until there is no dough left. Once you have the three pieces braided, pinch the ends of the dough together. Egg wash the top of the bread to assist in the browning process while it is baking. Follow the remainder of the instructions in your recipe for baking temperature and times.
Decorative Bread DesignsEver hear of the term, ‘think outside of the box?’ Well, in this case, think outside of the loaf pan and let your creativeness free as you decide how you want to design your bread without the loaf pan, such as:
- Person or Animal