Sunday, April 27, 2008

Say No to Silicone!

My new in-laws gave me a mountain of red silicone bakeware for my birthday last year, plus one beautiful red plastic mixing bowl with a spout and rubberized base. The mixing bowl I use almost daily and adore, but the red silicone...well, not so much. See, I have my own tried-and-true aluminum pans in all shapes and sizes. Some came from the supermarket, some from TJ Maxx, and some (like my specialty-sized wedding cake pans) came from the fabulous specialty store here in Old Town. Not only that, but I had an inherent mistrust of many of the new silicone cookware that seem to have exploded on the market in recent years. After all, why should I bake in plastic when I've never had problems removing cakes and breads using old-fashioned methods? The best way to remove a cake from a pan is to grease and flour thoroughly; then when the cake has cooled a bit, to tap its edges on the counter so that the bottom of your item is evenly unstuck. Besides, with all the scares about plastic hormones leeching into our bloodstream, why add another plastic to our lives?

Today, the dreary, suddenly cold weather and the fact that I had just purchased a 1/4 lb of blue poppyseeds from Penzy's, added up to the irresistable urge to make a lemon poppyseed cake. The only problem was that the recipe I had specified enough for a 9" cake, and the only 9" cake pan I own came as part of my gift set. I didn't feel like filling muffin cups or coming out with a loaf and a half, so I decided to try the silicone pan out. Here is the cake when it came out of the oven:
And here it is once I tried to unmold it. Obviously, tapping was not an option here, so I ran a knife around the edges and tried everything else...bouncing, peeling, twisting, all to no avail.

The stupid mold just held onto the cake like one of those plastic shower suckers that hold up your soap rack, literally ripping the bottom of the cake off.

Sigh...I won't throw the pan away. It might be good for moulding mousses or jellies, after all, but DO NOT buy this pan if you are looking to bake a cake. My neighbor's mom apparently also experienced the same problems unmoulding her cakes from a silicone pan. As for other silicone products, silicone brushes are also a waste of time. They just don't pick up enough. Silicone spatulas though, are indispensable, especially those that withstand temperatures up to 500F.

The cake itself is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and it's a beautiful sight to behold. My DH commented unflatteringly that the densely studded cake looked rather like it'd been taken over by mold, but I thought that it was a plus. Unfortunately, the cake was light on flavor, even after my addition of lemon oil. Just one stick of butter and one cup of sugar made for one very lean cake. I also made Madison's focaccia. That had only 2 tbsp of olive oil (that's a crazy amount for an olive oil bread!!) for three cups of flour, and the bread came out so lean, it was more like a thick pizza base than focaccia. Not that it didn't taste good, but it wasn't as advertised. Many people rave about her recipes on Amazon though, so maybe I have to try a couple more.