Posted on 19 Oct 2014 17:25
Have you heard of silicone baking mats? These are silicone impregnated fiberglass sheets that can be placed on a baking sheet to replace parchment paper or aluminum foil. But that is not all they replace. They are not new. Professional bakers have been using them for years. Today, they are becoming a common piece of cookware at home. Why are they better than regular baking sheets? Why should you use them? There are several advantages to using silicone baking sheets over regular metal baking sheets.
1. They Replace Parchment Paper or Aluminum Foil
Parchment paper is silicone impregnated paper. When you use it to line baking trays to bake cookies and other baked goods on, you don't need any grease and there is no sticking. Silicone baking mats replace rolls of parchment paper, and can be used over and over. Saving money and causing your kitchen to be a little bit greener. They will also stand in nicely at time when you would normally use aluminum foil liners. Not only do they seem to have almost magical non-sticking qualities, they can be used up to 2000 times. They are made to fit into rimmed baking sheets or to place on flat cookie sheets and they can withstand temperatures of up to 480°F but also be taken straight from the freezer to the oven.
Another advantage over silicone baking sheets over metal baking sheets is that they can be used in the microwave! Check to make sure your particular mat is safe for this use, though.
2. Easy to Clean
Since nothing sticks to silicone baking mats, they are very easy to clean. A quick soap and water clean up is all you need, there is no scrubbing, soaking, or other cleaning hassle. If you are baking something that is messy, with a lot of sugar or butter, for instance, you'll love them. They are perfect for turnovers or pocket pies. You do need to lay them flat, or hang them, to dry, though. They resist staining and odors.
3. You Need Less Cookie Sheets
Normally, if you wanted to make many batches of cookies, you'd be laying out your cookies on one baking tray while another one baked in the oven. You need at least two cookie sheets for that, and if you are baking a huge batch with two ovens, fore example, you'd need up to four. With silicone baking sheets, you only need one or two metal baking trays (depending on the number of ovens you have going). Several silicone mats can be used to line one or two cookie sheets. You just lay out your cookies on a mat while a batch is cooking on another mat, and when they are done, you slide off one mat as slide on the new one. Of course, they take up a lot less storage space, and they can even be rolled up for storage.
4. There Is Less Burning or Browning
Silicone baking mats have the same advantage that parchment paper can give you. There tends to be less browning on the bottom of baked goods, and less potential for burning. Silicone mats are especially good for baking fish on, as you won't have to worry about the fish sticking and tearing when you lift it off the mat. As well, if you are using any sort of sticky glaze, you'll appreciate the non-stick surface of the mat.
5. They Are Good Also Good For Kneading Dough On
A regular silicone baking mat can be used to knead dough on. It's great for kneading pizza, bread, or even pie dough. The dough doesn't stick to the mat and, although you still need to use flour to encorporate into the dough, you don't have t o worry as much about sticky dough clinging to the kneading surface. As well, silicone pastry mats are available with measurements, to use for rolling out pie and other pastry dough. Professional bakers use silicone mats for working with fondant, chocolate, sugars, and other sticky things.
Brands of Silicone Baking Mats
Silpat Silicone baking mats are the original brand, but today many alternatives exist. Another high quality brand, and my personal favorite, is the BakeitFun Silicone Baking Mat, which is BPA free and comes with a 100% money back guarantee.
The prices of silicone mats have dropped. Used to be, a silicone baking mat would cost you around $20, but now you can buy one for as little as $10 and up to $20. I would recommend against purchasing the cheapest one you can find!
Silicone baking mats are not the only game in town. You can get silicone baking cups for cupcakes as well as baking cups in other shapes; silicone muffin pans, and round silicone cake pan liners to fit 8 or 9 inch cake pans. It is even possible to do away with metal cake pans and use silicone cake pans. Keep in mind that, with the explosion of such products on the market, the quality may be uneven. Some of the materials, for example, may be too thin and flexible to use effectively for a large baking vessel. Another option, however, are steel-framed and silicone lined baking pans, which are available in cake pans and muffin pans. I do not know how well these perform, however.
Further Uses and Notes
Although, for the most part, you should never need to grease, oil, or flour a silicone baking mat, there are times when it is advisable to spray them with nonstick cooking spray, such as when you are making a very sticky candy. And example would be making homemade marshmallows.
Another use for silicone mats that not many will be aware of, is that you can use two of them to keep baked items flat, or to flatten something that you need to be flat. For example, when baking sheets of phyllo dough that you wish to keep flat, you can place one silicone mat on top to keep them from puffing up unevenly.
And, silicone baking mats are not just limited to baking. You can use them for warming up foods in the oven, and they can even work in a toaster oven.
Certain baked goods may not bake as crisp as you would like on a silicone matt, so keep this in mind when using.
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