Things get a little hazy right around now. Any list of essential oven ware is going to need some customizing. Because some cooks hardly do any baking, and others are in business primarily for the sweets. While the second group is going to have to get dinner on the table as well as filling the cookie jar, it is possible to be an excellent, engaged cook, and almost never bake. So here's where we're going. First, a list of real basics, then a list of basics for sometime bakers, and finally a few specialty items for those who are engaged in producing dessert on a regular basis. I have more special baking equipment than is consonant with my actual level of activity in this area. I just have a weakness for the stuff.
roasting pan with rack
8"X8" square pan steel or ceramic (I use an Emile Henry one, which is nice for small dishes of baked pasta, as well as brownies, and comes to the table looking pretty.)
Three 8" round metal cake pans- you want a bright surface, the dark ones cook too fast. Nonstick is nice.
lasagna pan 8 1/2"X11", (or larger, if you have a big family) pyrex is nice, and some come with snap on lids for carrying your bring-alongs
2 loaf pans (most pan bread recipes make 2 loaves), also good for meat loaf
a pyrex pie pan
a covered oval-shaped or round casserole for pot roasts and oven-roasted chicken, etc. - ceramic , metal or enameled cast iron
2 jelly roll or "sheet" pans, which serve as cookie sheets, and drip-catchers- again, go with a bright metal surface to prevent overcooking, otherwise known as "burning"
6-8 little 4, 6, or 8 oz. custard/timbale cups, pyrex are great, and cheap, too- ceramic ones are often very pretty. (Thanks to Lynn D., who reminded me of these.)
one or two shallow gratin type dishes- porcelain, pottery, or enameled cast iron are dandy. Mine are pottery Frankoma ones, which go with my green everyday dishes. Like the dishes, I got them for a song on ebay.
Sometime Bakers also need:
tart pan or pans with removable bottom
springform cake pan
tube and/or bundt pan
baking tiles or baking stone for making crusty breads and pizzas
porcelain oven-proof quiche pans, large and small
silicon nonstick mats and/or parchment paper
Serious bakers, or crazy people like yours truly, who are maybe less than serious, but love this stuff may want:
mini bundt pans, mini tart pans, mini loaf pans and /or mini-spring-form pans for making baby-cakes
mini muffin tins
various bundt and kugelhopf pans with different designs
silicon financier pans (bigger silicon pans don't work for me- even as small as muffin size- I crack stuff- but for these little pastries, I love 'em)
a shortbread pan (square) with designs that emboss their cute selves onto the cookies
a linen-lined banneton for rising round breads, and a floury linen for bread making
a marble rectangle for rolling pastry
a biscuit cutter or 2, and (blush)
a pate terrine...it's true. Also, I must admit to a box full of tiny walnut shaped molds, for making walnut cookies. I love them; they ain't going anywhere.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go sort this stuff out. Next up: Pantry needs. This project is actually helping me organize my kitchen. Much dubious stuff has been moved to the basement lockup, given away, listed on ebay, or, in some cases tossed. My back hurts, but in a good way. I think. As always, I welcome your suggestions for important items I have overlooked.And I do realize the photo is more suited to the top-of-the-stove section, but I haven't done any decent ones of cake pans. Maybe soon.