The favorite item in my mom's kitchen was always the cookie sheets. Battered and well-seasoned by years of heavy use, her baking sheets were thin and warped on the edges with a worn, mottled patina, thanks to the hundreds of batches of cookies she'd baked on them.
I love those sheet pans because their presence signaled warm cookies ahead. As an adult, I love my sheet pans for so much more. Restaurant chefs and bakers have long appreciated the versatility of sheet pans, but only lately has this bit of kitchen knowledge become mainstream. These days, you can't open the food section of a newspaper (or browse cookbooks in a bookshop or read food blogs) without stumbling upon a recipe for sheet pan cooking. Everyone, suddenly, is discovering how clever it is to cook dinner on a sheet pan.
It's a new way to think about one-pot cooking! The large surface area makes it perfect for roasting vegetables; lining your pan with parchment makes it virtually mess-free to clean up. If you throw all the ingredients for a recipe onto the pan (protein + starch + sauce), everything melds together beautifully as it cooks. Bonus points for getting a crunchy texture and crisp edges on things like chicken skin and meatballs and rice.
I'm glad we're all embracing the sheet pan cooking concept, but what about baking? We're overlooking the most useful and smart way to utilize a sheet pan.
Take any basic batter, from brownie batter to cake batter to muffin batter, and spread it onto a parchment-lined (or well-greased) sheet pan with high edges. Bake until just set and golden on the edges, then remove from the oven and let it cool. It's quick and easy with no need for portioning batter into pans or muffin tins. You can try this technique with popover batter or even pancake batter!
I particularly love baking muffin batter on a sheet pan. You get to skip the whole paper liner step, and the result is akin to a giant muffin top (which is the best part of a muffin, duh). Your muffins stay wonderfully moist and soft but you get lots of golden, crisp edges. Try it with any one of your favorite muffin recipes; I've included my best basic blueberry recipe here. I like to sprinkle lots of turbinado sugar over the top before baking, but that's optional. And by optional, I mean delicious, please do it.
- 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (8 ounces) milk (2% or whole or buttermilk)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
What muffin recipe are you going to put in a sheet pan? Let us know in the comments!