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


Different 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 Retention

Glass 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 Pan

While 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
Glass pans do not heat up in the same manner as any other material. Metal pans tend to heat up quickly and take longer for the item you are making to bake. In contrast, glass heats up slowly but typically retains any heat longer, which is why it typically takes less time to bake bread as mentioned above. Because glass heats up quicker than metal, placing a cold glass dish into a preheated oven may cause it to crack from the temperature. Extreme temperature changes can even cause glass to shatter. Make sure that the glass pan is at room temperature before placing it into a preheated oven.

Baking and Shaping Bread with Other Dishes

There 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:

Using a Skillet to Bake and Shape Bread

While 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 Bread

Another 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 Bread

If 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)
  • Baguettes
  • Rolls

Using a Cake Pan to Bake and Shape Bread

Cake 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 Pan

Now 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 Wash

Egg 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
Egg washes can come in handy when you want bread to retain the shape you have given it, but you are not using a loaf pan. To make an egg wash, you can beat eggs alone into a mixture, or you can beat eggs in with another type of liquid, like milk. You will then brush the mixture over the bread or baked goods.


If 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.


Egg 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.


Some 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 Pan

As 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)
  • Braids
  • Baguettes


Making 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.


Another 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.


Braided 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 Designs

Ever 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
  • Symbols
  • Objects
Shaping the bread into different patterns is a fun way to bake bread, provided you do not get too complicated.

Person or Animal

If you want to be creative and you are seeking something to stand out, design your bread as a person or an animal. While you may be thinking that is difficult or impossible to do, if you break it down, it is not difficult. Say you decide you are going to mold a person out of your bread dough. Once it has risen, divide it into six different parts. Once it is divided, mold each piece into the shape that is needed to make a person, the legs, arms, chest, and head.  Attach each piece to the center of the dough (chest) to create your person. Once the person has been molded, place it in the oven and bake it at the time and temperature directed by the recipe.  The same process can be used for any person or animal in which you want to mold your dough. Make sure that whatever you want to mold your dough into is not too complex and complicated.


Create the symbol in the same manner that you would do with any other freehand design. Take the dough that has risen and place it on parchment paper. If you are going to use a number, like, one, mold the bread into the shape and design of the number. Once the number has been formed, place it in the oven and bake it at the time and temperature noted by the recipe. Creating simple designs like this can make your bread stand out and can all be done without a loaf pan.


Additionally, you can also shape your bread dough into different objects the same as you can for anything else. Pick an object that is not too complex and easy to place together by hand, like a tree or a fougasse. A fougasse design is a type of flatbread that is cut and shaped in a manner to make it appear as if it were a tree with limbs. While this sounds complicated, it is straightforward and simple. Take the dough which has already risen and flatten it out using your hands. Once it has been flattened out, cut the dough to an inch thick and place it on a greased baking sheet.  Mold the dough to the shape of a Christmas tree or triangle and then cut diagonal slits in the dough, roughly two inches from each other. Use your fingers to make the cuts in the dough wider and longer until you have the appearance of a leaf or tree limb. Bake the dough as directed, and the bread will give the appearance of a leaf. See an example below.