So you've seen these rubbery baking trays in the shop, and have finally convinced yourself that of course they're not going to melt all over your oven the first time you use them. Maybe a friend recommended them. Or maybe you just saw them on Masterchef and want to give them a try. However they got your attention, it's true that a wibbly-wobbly cake tin is great for the novelty value, but will it perform just as well as your old metal bakeware?
The pros and cons of silicone
Our tests of the main silicone bakeware brands showed that there's little or no difference between silicone and metal cooking performance. So, why switch to silicone? Here are the pros and cons:
The big advantage of silicone bakeware is its ease of use:
- It's flexible.
- It can be rolled up, folded or stacked.
- It can be put in the dishwasher without rusting.
- It's very light.
- It won't corrode, scratch, dent or peel.
But there are also downsides:
- Transferring the bakeware to the oven when it's filled with heavy raw ingredients can be difficult because some types of silicone are very floppy.
- It can be expensive. A typical muffin pan costs from $15 to $50 – much more than standard metal, or even non-stick bakeware.
- While silicone is 'non-stick', most brands still need to be greased with every use to ensure the baked items come out easily.
How floppy is too floppy?
It's not hard to imagine what could go wrong with a tray full of hot food that sags and wobbles when you lift it. A little bit of bendiness helps with turning out cakes and muffins, but anything too soft could spell spilled food and burnt fingers. We've found that flexibility can vary with different brands of silicone bakeware, and some even come with stainless steel elements to counteract the floppiness.
Tip: It's a good idea to use a metal baking sheet underneath all silicone bakeware to keep things stable.
What else to look for
Although they're non-stick, most trays will need greasing every time. Some will only need greasing before first use (unless they're washed in the dishwasher). Check the manufacturer's instructions.
Check the firmness of the silicone. Will the tray sag too much when filled with raw ingredients?
Some cake pans have a removable reinforcing ring to help with support.
Look for firm handles for easier lifting.
- Is it dishwasher-safe? Will it fit?
- Check for ridges and indents where food could become stuck.
Prices range from $10 to $50.