Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Does size really matter? (pansizes dear readers, pansizes!)

Question: Is there a way to figure out how much (bread) dough you need to fill a loaf pan?

Although the gadget situation has improved a lot lately, it is still quite difficult to get specific ingredients and bakeware here. Even more so when you step up the ladder and broaden your baking horizon and buy books in English. So we European bakers often need to calculate, and/or get creative, do the trial and error thing (that's me), get some tasty but sometimes misshapen loaves, because the regular 9x5" loaf pans are not the standard size we can buy here. A couple of years ago I bought one (why? why only one?) 9x5" loaf pan in London and ever since I regret that I didn't buy two. Because that's the yield most bread recipes state.
"Makes 2 9x5" loaves" sound familiar?

Let me show you the different sized pans I own. The ones missing in the picture are my first loaf pans, heavy black tinned steel, relatively narrow and long. They were tossed recently. I fought with them for too long. They need to be seasoned and have a tendency to rust when used with wetter doughs or retarding in the fridge. (Forget about acidic sour doughs too) It is possible to get them back in shape but it is such a chore. Mind you it can be done but I finally decided that it was just too much of a hassle. Scoring, re-seasoning, using an inlay of baking parchment, all possible but I've given up. These are the pans I regularly use nowadays;
On the left the London one: a 9x5", middle is a Chicago metallic 10x5", and to the right and on top two loaf pans that expand from 27x15x9 cm (11x6x4.5") to a whopping 40 cm (15") and everything inbetween. Right is the smallest size, the one on top is pushed out to the max.
All pans are ever so lightly brushed with oil every now and then and loaves slide out easily. I wipe them clean, only wash them in hot water (no soap) when needed. The Chicago metallic is one I bought very recently together with a jelly roll pan (yay! Finally!). The shop promised me they were getting more sizes so I have my eye on another 9x5...
Not shown in the pic are the 8-mini-loaf pans, one silicon and one dark steel.

Then you fill the loaf pan. How? Generally I gouge it to be filled halfway or less: 1/3, depending on the dough. If you fill a loaf pan like you would fill for instance a cake pan (up to 2/3) your message of "I'm risen enough" gets to you too soon resulting in baking a bread that has not fullfilled the proofing potential and, thus, lacking in flavour that it gets from full rise. Then again, a wetter dough will not dome above the loaf pan but will rather go up and sideways. (Think of the low pants that were in vogue for a while and how they made some of us look around the belt area... ahum *cough*).

That makes us come full circle; how much dough in a pan and how do we calculate?


Pan size


Pan size Metric cm

Dough weight

Flour volume

Pan Volume


10 x 4.5”

25 x 11

2 lb

4 - 5 cups


9 x 5”

23 x 13

2 lb

3 - 4 cups

1.9 ltr / 8 cups


8.5 x 4.5”

21 x 11

1.1/2 lb

3 cups

1.4 ltr / 6 cups


7.5 x 3.5”

19 x 9

1 lb

2.1/2 cups


5.75 x 3.75


8 oz

1.1/2 cups


4.5 x 2.5”


6 oz

¾ cups




1/2 - 1 lb

1 - 2 cups




1 – 2 lb

2 – 3 cups




2 – 3 lb

4 – 5 cups

1 lb = 1 pound = 454 grams!
(Info compiled from various sources a.o. "Bread made easy" by Beth Hensperger, and The Fresh Loaf)

Jumbo also makes:
- two loaves 8.5x4.5
- two 8" rounds
- three 7.5x3.5"loaves
- eight 4.5x2.5 mini loaves
- twelve 2.5" muffin cups

Standard also makes:
Two 9” rounds
Two 9” fluted/tube
Four 7.5x3.5”
Six to seven 5.5x3”
12 to 14 mini loaves 4.5-2.5”

You're missing the Pullman loaf pan? (Pain de mie). I found the following in Raymond Calvel's Le Gout du Pain:
"For medium density breads:
260 grams (9.173 oz) per liter of pan volume for open pans.
245 grams (8.64 oz) per liter of pan volume for lidded/Pullman pans.
For higher density breads, generally baked in lidded molds or forms:
approx. 275 gr (9.7 oz) dough per liter of pan volume."

Or you can calculate. Ahum. Yes. Math. Let's try.
Calculating volume: length x width x height = volume
This way you can see which substitute you can use. Same volume, same amount of dough will fit. Here's how they do it over at Baking 911 (scroll down to find the chart and the mathematical calculation on the bottom of the page).

Edit: thanks to Elizabeth, here's another handy dandy pan size chart that lists in square inches!

Pooh... Was this helpful? Am I making sense here? Let me know!


  1. Dough weight !!!! Love it.

    So let me get this straight: you've just gotten rid of the pan that I bought when I was there ... the one that when I went looking for it, is no where to be found, probably someplace very wet where it's now a pile of rust ...

  2. Thanks for this! I am terrible at calculating..

  3. I think for us (europeans) it can be difficult to find the right size pan when you bake from american bakingbooks. So there's math involved everytime!
    You once told about a link about pansizes, I use that in times of total mathematic confusion (which is a lot :-)
    And remember... always buy things in pairs!

  4. @Tanna: oy...yes! I thought about you when I wrote this, feeling guilty!

    @Natashya: so am I, that's trial and error for me usually. And not writing anything down =;0

    @Lien: you really do the math? Wow! I know about the pair-buying, is that a Dutch thing? When Sue returned from her morning walk around our town she asked why everyone had pairs of everything in the window; pottery, vases, plants, candles....

  5. Oh gee whiz! This is info I have been looking for since I started baking in France (with my American cookbooks). But boy is that a lot to swallow! But so brilliant and I will definitely copy it down. I too have a multitude of baking and loaf pan sizes and get awfully confused. I usually just pray. Thanks again for thinking this through for me!

  6. This will be so helpfull. So many times I've tossed the dough from pan tot pan just to look for the perfect match.
    Funny, I've bought the same size pan in London and also still regret buying just one.

  7. Thank you for this most excellent post!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. It's not just Europeans using US recipes - it works both ways! I have some European cookbooks with sizes in cm. My measuring cups do both ml and cups (and I think my spoons do both ml and tsp), but my baking pans are all measured in inches, so the chart is *wonderful*!! It is also extremely helpful for when you double a recipe, or only make half, and don't know how large a pan to use. Thanks!

  10. Hallo Karen,

    evem een waarschuwing via deze weg want op een andere manier kan ik je nu niet bereiken. als ik je weblog open verschijnt er in het bovenste deel een aantal waarschuwingen die het zicht op je mooie lay-out beperken. Het zijn waarschuwingen "bandwith exceeded"van photobucket. Ik weet niet waar het probleem ligt. Als je dit bericht hebt gelezen, kun je het wat mij betreft verwijderen ik wil je alleen even informeren.

  11. o ja dat zie ik nu ook, dat was vanmiddag nog niet. Waarschijnlijk heeft de maker van de foto een tijdelijk account en tonen ze nu de foto niet meer? Dat zou ook sneu zijn!

  12. Bij "Lena" zelf ziet het er ook zo uit, dat wordt dus toch maar zelf iets op de foto zetten vrees ik. Tenzij ze een pro account neemt.

  13. Hahaha daar ben ik weer (3x is scheepsrecht zullen we maar zeggen).
    Na wat doorklikken vond ik bij haar dit bericht:

    Photobucket Issues
    Sorry about the issues with photobucket- this is a problem that will be fixed in the next day or two so please be patient. I just had forgot to change the credit card information on my paypal account because my credit card had expired and I forgot to put in the information for the new card.

    I have contacted photobucket and hopefully they will get to fixing this problem today.

    thank you for your patience and understanding.

    Dus alles sal reg kom!

  14. Bedankt voor het melden Marjoke en Lien! (en Mam!) Ik zag het vanmorgen maar had geen tijd om er iets aan te doen. Ik vermoedde al zoiets dergelijks. (Was alleen nog niet zo snugger om op Lena's site te kijken... Héél clever Lien!

    Oef.... ik ben al een flink poosje aan het knoeien om mijn eigen foto erin te zetten.... dat wilde ik toch al en nu was opeens de noodzaak daar, maar helaas niet de kunde merk ik. Is nog niet zo makkelijk.
    In ieder geval heel erg bedankt voor het waarschuwen -en het uitzoeken- hartstikke lief!

  15. Wow! Thank you for this post. One thing I was always wondering is how the heck I should figure out how much dough to put into my pans. Since I do not own the required ones and I simply have no idea where to get them since Austrian kitchenware manufacturers are not very cooperative with this needs.

  16. Thanks all of you for the encouraging comments! I really appreciate it.

  17. Many thanks for this outline. I've bookmarked it for return visits.

    I'm a big fan of the baking pan size chart in Joy of Cooking. It lists the volume in square inches of all the various standard sized pans (well, standard sized in North America, anyway). I use it all the time to figure out which round cake tin I should use for a half recipe. Following the chart, there is this very handy hint - also in the cakes section of the book (which could also be applied to bread):

    To determine how much batter to mix for oddly shaped pans or mold, first measure their contents with water. Then make up two-thirds as much dough as the amount of water measured. -Irma Rombauer, "The Joy of Cooking"


    This website lists the square inches for various pans:

    Ooooh, I WANT those expandable bread tins! Those look fabulous.

  18. Thanks Elizabeth, that's a nice addition! I'll add it to the post!

  19. This is great! All the needed pan size/volume/dough weight info all in one place! Thanks!!


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