The Lowdown on Silicone Bake Ware

You’ve all seen the infomercials, the chef raves about his new red or blue or whatever bright color bake ware that is so non stick and easy to use. But just how good is the stuff and how much is pure hype. I bought a set of the stuff and we’ll see.

I found a set of the bake ware at a local Walmart for sale, I wanted to see just how good the silicone bake ware is and if the things they say about it are true. I have found that most of what they say is true to some extent but not the way they make it sound.

Like all new kitchen gadgets and devices they have come up with in the past twenty years I have been skeptical of this. I am not sure if I want to put a full cake mix into a rubber mold and toss it in at 350 degrees, only to watch it spill all over my landlords new oven. But I gave it a try.

I bought the set that includes the bundt pan, the muffin pan, the two oven mats and the two utensils from Walmart. The utensils and the mats I could take or leave but I do like the two pans, or whatever it is we now have to call them.

That is one thing that I have found out over the past couple of years, with the increase in technology we have a whole new vocabulary to learn. The silicone rubber is neat, it is flexible and does not get too hot. I was interested in how they make the stuff and have done some research.

Dow Corning and a few other companies have some information about this process and the different uses of silicone rubber. Basically silicone rubber is a rubber that does not use an organic such as the one from the rubber tree but uses silica or a type of sand to produce the rubber in a chemical process.

The most common use I could find of silicone rubber before the use of cooking utensils and bake ware is the use of rubber boots on your spark plugs. They need to be non-conductive, resistant to oil and heat and flexible. This was a good use for the newly created silicone rubber years ago when it first came out.

Only in the past few years has anyone thought of using it for the food industry as they are now. The rubber is heat and cold resistant, which is great for foods that can go from the extreme of oven to freezer or vice versa. The flexibility is also a great use in baking when you are trying to get something like muffins out of the pan and using the knife around the base trick to get it out because you forgot the spray.

I did not have to use a knife or spray. I wanted to see just how non stick it was and it did pretty good. I did a small package of apple cinnamon muffins and purposely did not use a spray to see what it would do. The muffins browned like normal and I took them out when they looked done. The pan or bake ware cooled quickly. I could touch it in less than five minutes without burning myself.

I turned the five muffins over in the bake ware and they all fell out. I did not have to push them out and only some very small pieces stuck to the red rubber. I noticed one thing about the muffins. The top and the sides were a uniform color brown and the bottoms were a bit darker. I had baked them on a cookie sheet to get them in and out of the oven.

They were evenly cooked throughout and tasted pretty good. I especially like the fact that you can touch the bake ware very soon after pulling it from the oven and you can flex the stuff to get whatever you are cooking out. I then tried a bundt cake, the better test. I wanted to see one thing that had been bugging me about cooking larger stuff in the bake ware.

Does the bake ware drip or sag so the food comes out. The bundt pan cooked the cake evenly and did a good job of keeping the cake in the pan or bake ware. It did not get misshapen or lopsided. When I took it out it was even and round. It cooked very evenly with out burning and the top and the bottom cooked the same. That is something I like about the bake ware. The bottom is cooking the same as the top.

Because you do not have a metal or glass pan you are cooking at a more even temperature with the silicone bake ware. That makes for an even browning on all sides of whatever you are baking, whether it’s touching the silicone rubber or not. Basically the silicone rubber acts as a container for the food but does not in itself cook the food whatsoever. Oh, I’m sure at some level and a few degrees it does cook a little bit but when you cook something, it will cook evenly from the heat of the oven and not the bake ware.

All the bake ware cleans up easily by hand. I use the older dishwasher machine, me, to clean up with and it cleaned up easily without scrubbing. I purposely spilled some of the batter on the edges and in some of the empty cups of the muffin pan to see how easy it would be to clean up and it went pretty quickly. The stuff cleaned out easier than if I had baked the cupcakes in a metal or glass pan without spray.

The bake ware is easy to clean as you can pull it inside out and use your fingers to get at the corners and such so it does make it easier in that respect to clean.

As far as some of the other pitches that the famous chef tells you about, something’s just happen and there is nothing you can do about it. For instance, if you cook a piece of chicken, steak and fish on the same surface and the juices mingle and flow together, the juices are going to be in the other foods. Regardless of what you are cooking on, the fish will taste some of chicken and steak and all the other combinations if the juices are going to the other foods.

I really can’t see stuffing the whole twenty piece set of bake ware into the same drawer, how would you get the one you want out. And the deal with less fat and oil is kind of up to you anyhow. If you want to use it you can, if you don’t that’s up to you. It is mostly dependent on the recipe you use. Yes, you can bake chicken or whatever in the bake ware without added oil or grease but I do that with a glass pan all the time now.

The cooking with better results every time is also up to you, you have to be a decent cook to get decent results. A no stick pan or bake ware will only mean that the burned mess comes out of the pan if you don’t figure that sound is the smoke detector.

The whole thing with the infomercial or the sales pitch is not as big a deal as they make it sound. Yes the bake ware is good and it cooks better than metal and glass pans. The larger pieces of bake ware that can fit a whole chicken and other things in you would have to have on a rack or trivet as they call it or it would be a little difficult getting in and out of the oven.

But some of the things in the commercial are just hype. And a fancy new kind of bake ware will not make you the best chef in the world if you’re not already one. It will cook your food better though.

The pads or mats are nice. I have several hot pads for setting pans and such on and I kind of like the fact that these will take a lot longer to wear out. The cloth or fabric ones get food on them and you have to wash them and they tend to fade and such over time.

They are handy and very non slippery for grabbing the cookie sheets and other pans in the oven. They have bumps a little smaller than a dime all over them and the surface is not as slick as the cooking surfaces of the bake ware. They do not get hot very much and some of the cloth ones I have are not nearly as good.

The two utensils are a spatula of which I have a few that are the same or even better and a wire whisk & tongs thingy with the silicone coating the wire. There is a little button to open the whisk into the tongs for cooking. I used the whisk to beat the cake mix and it works, what can I say about a wire whisk with silicone coating. It won’t rust until I end up scraping the rubber off the wires. We’ll see how long that takes.

The bake ware is good, it does hold it’s shape after cooking and I would bet after some time stuck in a drawer. But you won’t see me cooking my steak right next to a chunk of fish. You will see me buying a flat piece of silicone bake ware to cook that steak on, or maybe just some cookies. That is the next thing I want to get, the flat sheet that fits on the cookie sheet to bake cookies. Hey kids, my birthday is coming up.

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