While many home chefs have embraced this newest line of bakeware products, some of us have been slightly reluctant to depart from our traditional metal or glass baking pans. That's because these old standards have stood the test of time, whereas a silicone pan does have a slight learning curve. And you should know up front that silicone bakeware, in general, is getting mixed reviews. It works for some and not for others.
I've experienced it too, so you're not alone.
The cheerfully bright colors of silicone bakeware do attract our attention, but it's their general flimsiness that raises a few skeptic baker's eyebrows. However, manufacturers have been very quick to allay our visions of these soft pans folding in on themselves or having to clean up batter messes, by designing optional or companion racks or 'sleds' that provide the much-needed stability especially, for the larger pans. Here's a few things to consider when shopping for silicone bakeware.
On the positive side
If you haven't yet ventured out to try one of these, you may be pleasantly surprised, I certainly was. I started out slowly at first, with spatulas which were very economical - no big risk there, and these quickly captured this baker's heart. They were rewarded with a spot in the handy main tool holder. Goodbye, rubber. Hello, silicone spatulas!
Silicone utensils really are that good. No melting and no more scissor-trimming to remove worn edges. They can take the heat (within their temperature rating) and you can even use them in a hot skillet to scramble your eggs. After a year and considerable mileage, they still look like new. No turning back on these silicone spatulas and utensils.
I love them.
Since the spatulas made the grade, it was on to bigger silicone baking tools such as a general purpose loaf pan. To grease or not to grease the bakeware is the question and I opted for 'not' trusting the silicone would work its releasing magic.
Results were terrific - quick even baking and cooling. But what was most impressive was the easy loaf removal. A slight twist, or should I say movement, of the pan and sides just pulled away, revealing an evenly baked delicious banana loaf that gently rolled out onto the cutting board.
The only drawback was the size of this particular silicone pan. Being slightly smaller than a regular bread pan, it meant adjusting the batter level and baking the excess in a single-serve pan. No problem, neighbors were happy to share in the baking results. You should not assume a particular pan will fit your cake mix; read the size details.
Muffin cups can also vary in size too, but these have turned out great every time I baked them in silicone (muffin) cups. No greasing, no fuss and so much better than using paper liners which may or may not easily remove at serving time. I'm looking at expanding my silicone cups to a full dozen.
Silicone bakeware purchased from well-known kitchenware brands is usually made of FDA-approved food grade silicone and this should be clear on the packaging description.
Each piece of silicone has its own limitation as to manufacturer recommended maximum oven temperature, which is usually stamped right on the product. Heed those heat limits and you'll enjoy using these for years.
Benefits of silicone bakeware
- No greasing or oiling of pans should be required
- Pans heat quickly and bake evenly with no burnt or dark edges or bottom.
- Removal from pans is super easy - a slight twist or gently pulling on the sides and roll out your baking.
- They're freezer, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and oven safe.
- Bake, store, freeze and reheat right in the pans.
- No rusting or staining.
- No need to alter your batter or temperature - bake as usual.
- Cleanup is a breeze.
- Lightweight and perfect for a camper or RV.
- Storing is easy - although they do not easily nest, no special attention is required and they retain their shape.
Notable tips for successful baking
- Follow manufacturer's maximum heat ratings.
- Pans are hot to touch while in the oven but cool down quickly; use hot pads to remove them.
- Using a cookie sheet underneath will provide stability even for smaller pans.
- Always use a metal baker's sheet or specially designed sled or rack underneath wider or larger silicone pans.
- Place filled silicone cups either on a metal muffin tin or baking sheet for stability during baking.
- Wash pans thoroughly before first use. Warm soap and water clean-up is easy.
- Warranties tend to vary with bakeware brands.
- Do not use knives or sharp objects - they could damage your pans.
- Never use on an open flame or on stovetop burners.
There's a multitude of uses for silicone bakeware from specialty cakes to everyday breads and muffins. You can freeze conversation-inspiring shaped ice cubes for the punch bowl or use the pans for your favorite gelled salads or desserts.
Now, on the downside of silicone bakeware
Know that not all silicone bakeware performs exactly the same. Some bakers have greased or not greased and still did not have good results. Others found that baking times needed to be adjusted or results were not fully cooked in the middle.
Because silicone bakeware has earned a sketchy reputation and basically a love it or hate it relationship, don't be surprised if you have to try more than one baking pan or brand before you enjoy this bakeware. As for utensils, you will not likely ever go back to plastic or rubber, silicone is that good where heat is present and it's also kind to nonstick, so ideal tools for this easy to clean cooking surface. And I'm definitely sticking with silicone muffin cups.
Read More About Kitchenware:
- 6 Specialty baking pans worthy of trying out
- Essential cooking utensils
- Top Lasagna Pans
- Buffet Serveware