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I swore I would never use or buy silicone bakeware.
Now I just swear at silicone bakeware.
Am I alone?
I gave in to those flexible silicone pans because of the promise of muffins and madelines and cakes that would never stick. No more hunks of cake left behind in a cake bottom.
Even so, the thought of putting a piece of flimsy plastic bakeware in a 350-degree oven made about as much sense as putting a piece of Tupperware under the broiler.
Nothing says lovin’ like plastic burning in the oven. How do you spell carcinogenic?
What ultimately swayed me was a pastry chef at the former the Oregon Street Tea Co., a young woman who said she loved, loved, loved her silicone baking pans.
Her testimonial inspired me to cave in and buy my first silicone cupcake pan. I’m so impressionable.
I started with a little red cupcake pan.
I used a tried-and-true cake batter and counted the minutes until they were done.
Out they came. The good news was they didn’t stick. The bad news was they were all off-centered. Every one.
I tried again, this time I enlisted the help of my special batter dispenser. I poised the dispenser’s opening directly over the cupcake well and allowed the batter to gently fill precisely in the middle. It didn’t matter. They ended up leaning to the left or the right, as if they were trying escape something scary as they baked.
I blamed that pan and bought a round silicone cake pan.
I tried my sister’s silicone loaf pan and ended up with a delicious marble cake that was highly peaked on one end and deeply sloped on the other.
Thank goodness for serrated knives.
As someone who baked her first cake at 7, I know a bit about baking cakes. But the silicone pans had me questioning and cursing my baking ability.
Everything I baked in silicone looked as it had been baked in the Titanic’s oven.
I went online and searched for answers, and found none. What really frustrated me were those sites where people raved about how great silicone pans were for their flawless results. Show offs.
Finally, I quit using the pans. I returned to my old metal and glass pans. I made peace with taking a few seconds to butter and flour the pans, so the cakes wouldn’t stick, which is why I turned to the stupid silicone pans in the first place.
Even so, I wondered if I were to blame. Maybe I’d lost my touch. Maybe my oven thermostat was out of whack. Maybe my batter was weird. Maybe I misread the recipe.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fault of the silicone pans. Maybe, if God had wanted us to bake in floppy rubbery material he wouldn’t have created Pyrex and Wilton and Calphalon and Bundt pans in the first place.
That’s what I was thinking, and I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Then son Joe emailed me about his plan to make chocolate ganache cupcakes for Valentine’s Day to serve to his Czech family and friends.
He said he’d bake them in his new silicone cupcake pan.
I tried to warn Joe. I told him how everything I’d made in silicone looked like a Gumby hairdo.
He said he’d never heard such a thing.
Kids. They do what they want. They live dangerously, even after we warn them.
Fine. Be that way.
He baked the cupcakes. And sent me a photo. (See above.)
His cupcakes had cookbook-perfect symmetrical rounded tops. No cupcake deformities. No need to perform cosmetic cupcake surgery or frosting sculpture to even things out.
Maybe it’s because Joe used paper liners.
Maybe it’s because the silicone pans sold in the Czech Republic aren’t defective.
Or maybe it’s because my son is a better baker (than his mother).
Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Northern California in the tiny town of Igo.