Everything You Should be Baking with a Silicone Baking Mat
Durable, reusable, and easy to clean– these are just a few of the reasons I love silicone baking mats. But if you find yourself with a brand new one or are simply seeking baking inspiration, here are some of my very favorite things to bake with baking mats, plus the recipes I would never make without one.
Pies, Tarts, & Galettes
Have you ever been baking a pie and smelt something burning, only to realize that all the gorgeous, in-season fruit you used has leaked juices all over your oven? Spare yourself the time and hassle of cleaning sticky fruit juice (or cheese, for that matter) by placing a baking mat under any Galettes, or on a sheet tray on the rack under your fruit Pies or Cheesy Tarts. There are few things I love more in life than going to my local farmer’s market, pairing the best seasonal produce with my favorite Buttery Pie Crust (or some store-bought crust), and baking up a storm. Using a silicone baking mat ensures that that ritual goes off without a hitch.
Oh, and hot tip– rolling pie dough between two baking mats is by far easier and more efficient than rolling onto your kitchen counter, then trying to transfer it. Simply place your block of dough in the center of a baking mat, cover with another mat, then roll it out to your desired thickness. Then all you have to do is peel off the top mat, transfer it over to your pie or tart dish, and invert the crust into the dish. Or better yet, make a galette and you can just leave the crust right on the bottom mat because you’re already ready to fill and bake.
Macarons & Meringues
Perhaps the two bakes that are most synonymous with silicone baking mats. Egg white-based desserts like meringues, pavlovas, and macarons are amazing in that they are flourless, therefore gluten-free, yet rise and crunchy just as other desserts would. They’re also notoriously finicky and sticky. Using a baking mat ensures they don’t stick, and I particularly love the GIR Baking Mat because, unlike many other ‘woven’ silicone baking mats, they’re not textured, meaning my meringue-based desserts turn out with perfectly flat bottoms.
If you’ve never made macarons before, here’s a great Beginner’s Macarons recipe. Personally, I like to fill my macarons with ganache rather than buttercream, but fill with whatever you like and get creative! I also love to make a big Pavlova in the summertime; it makes for a show-stopping centerpiece dessert and can highlight whatever fruit is in season!
Candies, Caramels, & Other Confections
Candy making isn’t just for the pros and Willy Wonka! From caramels to brittles, honeycomb to hard candies, homemade confections are a fun way to get creative and challenge yourself in the kitchen. Some essential tools you’ll want to have on hand when working with hot sugar: a candy thermometer, a durable spatula like The Ultimate Spatula, a good oven mitt (or better yet, The Flex Mat), and a baking mat.
One of my favorite homemade confections to make from scratch is honeycomb, also known as cinder toffee. It’s super simple yet plays off of a pretty magical reaction with some baking soda that makes it super light and crunchy. This Honeycomb Toffee is a great introductory recipe, although I personally like to dip mine in some dark chocolate and sprinkle with flaky salt after it sets. It’s great for gifting, or crushed and used in place of sprinkles on ice cream, or the shards make for the most gorgeous, striking cake decorations.
Oh, and if you’re ever working with marshmallows, homemade or not, you’re going to want to break out your baking mat. Since the pandemic, I’ve participated in a few fundraising bake sales, and without a doubt these Brown Butter Rice Krispies treats always sell out first. They’re shamefully simple to make and using a baking mat to press them into my pan (plus The Spoonula to usher them into said pan), makes a notoriously sticky and annoying process endlessly easier.
Cookies & Cakes
Of course you can use your baking mat anywhere you’d typically reach for parchment or aluminum foil, but keep in mind that silicone mats are slightly thicker than those, meaning you may not get as crispy as if you baked them straight on the pan. That’s why I prefer to use my baking mat for thick and chewy cookies vs. thin and crispy. These Brown Butter and Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies are some of my favorites, and baking them on a baking mat ensures that even if any toffee bits leak out during baking, I can still peel them off with ease afterwards.
When it comes to sheet cakes, I love that the GIR baking mats are specifically designed to fit half-sheet and quarter-sheet pans perfectly. Baking sheet cakes on a baking mat gives me an extra level of security that they’ll release from my baking pan without leaving even a crumb behind. I recently made this Texas Sheet Cake for my partner’s birthday, and not only did the cake release easily, but having the baking mat under actually made it easier for me to transfer the whole cake to a serving plate without breaking. And it’s worth mentioning that you can also cut the mats down to any size and shape you want! Since they’re so thin, you can easily cut and customize your baking mats to any cake pans you have.
Breads, Focaccia, & Every Dough in Between
I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on yeasted dough and bread. Whether you started baking bread during the pandemic, make focaccia every week, or are still chalking up the courage to make that first loaf, homemade bread can be a Herculean task. Does a baking mat come in handy for bread-baking? Yes, but not in the ways you would think.
While GIR’s baking mat is safe for bread baking up to 550°F, putting a barrier, especially one thicker than parchment paper, will interfere with the heat conduction of the cooking vessel and the surface of your bread. Therefore, for crusty loaves like Jim Lahey’s infamous No-Knead Bread and my favorite Focaccia you probably want to bake them directly onto the surface of your Dutch oven or sheet pan. However, if you’ve ever worked with yeasted doughs, you know what a messy process that can be. I love to use a baking mat as my ‘clean surface’ for kneading, shaping, and rolling out doughs, especially when finding a ‘clean surface’ to work on in my tiny NYC kitchen proves to be the most difficult part of the recipe. I especially love using it to roll and shape my favorite gooey, pillow-soft Cinnamon Buns, using the flexible silicone to start rolling the dough into a spiral once I have it flattened out. From there, transferring rolls and loaves is as easy as picking up the whole mat and plopping it right onto your prepared cooking vessel!
A silicone baking mat is a must-have tool for bakers from novice to professional, and I hope this has inspired you to break yours out and get cooking.