For a novice baker like me entering the bakery world was a multilayered discovery. And I’m not talking about the satisfaction from the first golden pie or the aromatic homemade bread, or the terrible doubts around the type of yeast to be used. I mean the discovery of the whole new world of essential tools and strange looking gadgets.
After finding some more basic tools such as roller pins, cutters, baking sheets, measuring spoons, etc., I found and felt in love with the silicon mats. They were something I had barely had heard of, but also something, I soon found out, of which there is a confusing abundance of choice.
They range from very flexible to firm types, large and small ones, the ones you can put in the dishwasher and others you cannot, they can be used thousands of times as baking mats, freezing mats, or non-stick surfaces to work bread and pastry dough.
The one I use the most is actually a non-stick baking mat, which main purpose is substituting the parchment paper. But there are a good number of other advantages and possible uses: you can roll up your pastry over it with ease, and because it’s non-sticking, you save on flour and on cleaning up the mess afterwards; you can cut scones, cookies or everything you need to cut without worrying about the surface; it will make your chips a bit healthier, as you don’t have to oil the surface when baking on it; it can be very helpful if you’d like to keep your old baking pan around for a little while, as it practically replaces the cooking surface and extend its life.
All reusable silicone baking sheets can be used multiple times over, year after year with proper care. Talking about care, I must say that although generally speaking silicon mats are relatively easy to wash and clean up, they can stain badly – my favorite mat is now stained after baking mushrooms, and it’s absolutely impossible to clean these marks. So, here is a small tip from me: don’t use your silicon baking mat for mushrooms or anything that can leave nasty spots.
Here are few more tips for using silicone baking mats:
- Save yourself some oven cleaning –just line a silicone mat on the bottom of the oven, especially when grilling something and it will protect the bottom of the oven from all greasy drops;
- After washing silicone baking mats, roll them and stand on end to dry. I’ve tried many other ways of letting the mats air-dry but none work as well as standing on end;
- Sprinkle flour on top of the mat if baking a chocolate batter;
- You can cut up silicone mats to fit your baking dish because if your mat is bigger and does not fit well to the bottom, it will make pockets and everything on this part of the mat will not bake properly.