Move over metal and get out of the way glass – a new type of bakeware has taken over. You may have noticed that most muffin pans, Bundt pans, spatulas and cupcake liners are now made with a brightly-colored and rubbery-textured material known as silicone. Although the term silicone may make you think of plastic surgery, silicone bakeware is actually safe to use and has a lot of advantages over its metal and glass counterparts. If you’ve been thinking of trying out some silicone products on your baking, read through this guide to find out how to use it and how it can improve the quality of your baked goods.
So, is it Safe?
From what you’ve probably heard, silicone bakeware may sound just too good to be true. There has to be a catch amidst all the praise it has received, right? The answer is yes and no. Silicone bakeware is made from bonded silicon and oxygen and it was deemed safe by the FDA in 1979. The silicone used in bakeware is inert, so it’s non-toxic and won’t harm the food in any way. Although some people have posted reports of dyes and oils leaching into food, no official reports or safety concerns have been issued about silicone bakeware.
However, some experts and silicone bakeware reviewers have warned against silicone that contains fillers, which can cause sticking and bad odors to leak into the food. The best way to test your silicone bakeware for fillers is by twisting it or pinching it. If some white shows through the silicone, then it contains fillers. Discontinue use of this product and instead look for higher-grade silicone bakeware. And if you have a chemical sensitivity, you may want to avoid silicone bakeware completely since not a lot of research has been done on it.
The Advantages of Silicone
The popularity of silicone has been on the rise, mostly because of the advantages that it offers for both baking and cooking. For one thing, the soft, flexible material is lightweight and easy to handle, and it can fold down for compact storage. And because the material isn’t metal, you won’t have to worry about it rusting. Here are some of its other advantages:
- Silicone is naturally nonstick – This means that you won’t have to wrestle your cakes or muffins out of the pan and cleanup will be a breeze. However, some people have reported that some types of silicone bakeware can cause sticking, so you may want to grease your baking dishes with some nonstick spray just to be safe.
- It can be heated or frozen – Silicone is freezer safe, oven safe, microwave safe and even dishwasher safe. So you can bake, serve and store food all in the same dish.
- Foods bake evenly – You’ll no longer have to worry about the bottoms of your cupcakes being burnt while the middles are still runny. With silicone, foods bake evenly and because silicone doesn’t transfer heat like metal or glass, foods stop cooking as soon as they’re removed from the oven.
- It can be used anywhere – Because silicone is so lightweight and easy to store, it can be taken on camping or RV trips or even to your parents’ house for dinner.
How to Use Silicone Bakeware
Although silicone bakeware has many advantages, its quality and lifetime must be maintained, just like any other type of bakeware. Otherwise, you’ll end up shelling out more money for replacement pans and utensils. Here are some tips to properly use and maintain silicone bakeware:
- Don’t cut in it – If you’re baking brownies in a glass baking pan, you can cut the squares individually while still in the dish. But don’t try this with silicone – you may accidentally cut or pierce the pan.
- Wash it gently – If you normally wash your dishes with a scouring pad or other abrasive tool, you won’t be able to use it with your silicone dishes because those pads could damage the surface of the soft silicone. But since silicone is nonstick, you shouldn’t have to use a harsh tool to remove food particles anyway.
- Don’t leave it on direct heat – Although you can put silicone baking dishes directly onto the oven rack, you shouldn’t leave them on top of the burners or on direct heat as this can damage the silicone.
- Place a baking sheet under big dishes – Smaller silicone baking dishes can usually stand on their own, but bigger dishes will need the support of a baking sheet to keep their stability.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s directions – On the bottom of the pan or on the label the manufacturer should state the highest recommended temperature for its bakeware. Each manufacturer and each pan or utensil may have a different required temperature, so don’t deviate from that.
Overall, silicone bakeware can be a positive addition to your baking arsenal, particularly if you are an avid baker. It can improve the quality of your baked goods and enhance your baking experience.