Back a few month ago, I stopped at one of those closeout stores, and to my surprise found a huge display of Paula Deen bakeware. Seeing that some of my sheetpans have seen better days, I picked up 4 of the large ones at $9.95 each. And what a huge difference these pans make. They are made of Aluminized Steel (in a beautiful color called Champagne) and have a great thickness and weight. They are fairly rapid heat conductors and possess excellent heat retention capabilities.
When I made my first freeform bread loaf on one of these pans, I really should have watched it more closely, because the crust browning was much faster than on my old pans. In my opinion, these pans, when used at higher temperatures like 425 F and 45o F, will be about the closest you’ll come in a consumer grade pan to a baking stone. Not the same as a stone, granted, but there are enough good similarities in the pan’s performance.
We tried a pizza on the Paula Deen pan with very good results. I preheated the pan in the oven, and when it was good and hot, slid the pizza on parchment onto it. The results were not as good as a stone, but quite satisfactory. We got good bubbling of the toppings in a fairly short amount of time.
Here’s my old circa 1950s Ovenex pan. I love this old thing. In a baking comparison, using the same dough for a large batch of sandwich rolls, the Paula Dean pans browned my bottom crusts up to 3 minutes faster. Speed is not a factor that is critical to me. It’s just noted here to show the difference in the pans.
After oven removal, the Paula Deen pan held substantial heat much, much longer than the old Ovenex. The old sheet metal on the Ovenex pan cools very quickly after removing from the oven.
Ordinarily, I’m not a huge Paula Deen fan, but if she really did have input on the manufacture of these pans, I thank her. I’m not easily swayed by cooking items just because they have a celebrity name on them, but I’m really glad I picked these up.
Years ago I really would have never noticed the subtle difference here, but as my baking frequency has increased, my observation skills have improved as well
So a couple of tips here…
When baking items in one session using multiple pans, use a like kind. The characteristics of two different pans can be like night and day and your baking times may vary.
Check your discount closeout stores for baking needs. You’ll sometimes be surprised at what can be found in some of them.
And just a note: These pans sold out quickly at the discount store here, and we were not able to find this particular pan on Amazon, although some others from the Paula Deen Champagne series are still available there as of today.