Timbale pans can be large (such as that used to bake a panettone), or they can be small enough to be single-portion (like a tartlet pan). Timbales typically narrow toward the bottom. Bundt pans, angelfood cake pans, and springform pans can be substituted for purpose-made timbale bakeware.
As a dish, a timbale is a "deep dish" filling completely enclosed in a crust. The crust can be sheet pastry, slices of bread, rice, even slices of vegetable. Sartu di Riso is a rice crust timbale. Timballo di Melanzana uses overlapping strips of eggplant. The filling can be a wide range of pre-cooked meats, sausages, cheeses, vegetables, and shaped pastas combined with herbs and spices and red or white "gravy", thickened with breadcrumbs if necessary. The assembled dish is then baked to brown the crust and heat the filling to serving temperature.