Have you ever wondered why cooling racks are used when baking goods? What is a cooling rack, though? Is it optional bakeware, or is it something that every baker should have? Luckily for you, we will solve the mystery of cooling racks in this article. Every baker knows the essence of a cooling rack in baking goodies. If not for cooling racks, you probably will not experience your pies and pastries as crumbly as we prefer to be. Read on to know more.
Why Do You Need a Cooling Rack?
The answer to this is straightforward. It is to keep your baked goods from overcooking and sagging. The openings between the racks allow the air to pass through and circulate while you wait for the goodies to cool down. With air freely passing through, it cools faster and will soon be ready for consumption or storage.
Now, what if you just let the baked goods sit on the countertop or any flat solid surface? Allowing the hot pan to rest on a closed surface will prevent air from reaching the pan and will cause moisture to build up, which can ruin the quality of your baked cookies and will begin to sag at the bottom.
Further, after taking out a hot pan from your oven, the remaining heat from the pan will continue to cook the goods, which can lead to over-baking. Putting the hot pan on a cooling rack, where air circulates freely, cools down the pan faster and prevents continued baking. After placing the hot pan on the cooling racks, the process is finished with the goodies placed directly over the cooling racks to facilitate the final cooling phase.
Hence, the use of the cooling rack is of paramount importance in creating quality pastries. So, what is a cooling rack? It is an indispensable baking tool with a crucial role in the cooling process post-baking.
Transferring Baked Goods to a Cooling Rack
How you transfer baked products into the cooling rack depends on what you are baking.
A small spatula will come in handy to transfer cookies onto a wire rack. Its flat surface will slide directly under the goods, keeping them intact. Use it to transfer the pastries from the pan directly onto the wire rack.
Overturn a cooling rack over the cake pan. Quickly turn over the rack and pan altogether to release the cake from the pan onto the wire rack. Doing this trick requires getting used to, especially dealing with hot pans and quick movements. Make sure to use oven mitts o keep you safe.
Muffin and Cupcakes
To transfer muffins from the pan onto the rack, you will have to use a knife to release them from their molds.
Other Baked Goodies
If direct transfer from the pan to the rack is not possible, such as pies and brownies, then place the hot pan over the rack until it cools completely.
Kinds of Cooling Racks
Besides knowing what a cooling rack is, one should also familiarize the types of racks as each type is used for specific baking purposes.
Flat Cooling Racks
This type comes in various shapes and sizes, with square, rectangular, and circular versions being the most popular. It comes with a stand on its edges to elevate the rack from the surface and allow air to move freely from the bottom up. In this type of rack, the wires are made from thick, sturdy wires to handle the weight of the baked goodies. The grids are also weaved close to each other to prevent smaller pastries from slipping through the wires.
Tiered racks are what you need if you are baking in volumes. It comes with two or more racks stacked on top of each other with at least 4 inches of space between the racks. It is also the rack of choice for limited-spaced kitchens since you do not have to spread each rack over the countertop. Some tiered racks are sold separately, and you can buy one or more layers at a time.
This type is odd-looking because it does not have the usual grids present in other types of racks. Instead, it is designed as a sidebar with shelf-like partitions on the side that holds the entire baking pan filled with baked goodies. With this type of rack, there will be no need to transfer the items as cooling takes place on the pan. Baker’s racks are usually made from a durable stainless steel material to ensure its ability to hold all the sheet pans’ combined weight and the baked items. Moreover, it comes with wheels for ease of moving.
Bread Cooling Rack
A bread cooling rack is often made from wood materials joined to form what seems to be like wooden boxes. These racks are used to cool and display the bread and are not intended for smaller pastries due to the large partitions between adjoined wood.
To sum it up, what is a cooling rack for? It is for cooling purposes, which is an essential part of the baking process.
How Many Cooling Racks Do You Need?
The number of racks you will need depends on the volume of baked goods you produce. If you are using cooling racks for commercial-scale baking, then you will certainly need more. But, for home baking purposes, two racks will serve you well. Cookies can be placed near each other in a cooling rack so you will have plenty of space for fill-in.
If you are baking pastries in large numbers to be stored but do not want to add more racks in your kitchen, you can cool your baked goods in batches. This way, you can bake more goodies even as you only have two available racks in your pantry.
Knowing what a cooling rack is is the first step to using it right. Now that we have come to know its uses and benefits, we can better decide whether we need one in our kitchen. If you’re into baking, you should probably get at least two. Know more about cooling racks.