I’ve been using a Silpat, the original silicone baking mat, for over 25 years in one form or another, ever since I got a pair of them as a gift for my birthday.
Back then they were considered a specialty item, one that only professional bakers use, the kind of gift you get for your “foodie” friend who has “everything” in the kitchen. But subsequently, they’ve become a rather common kitchen tool for folks who love to bake.
What is a Silpat?
Silpat is the maker (and name) of the original silicone baking mat. It’s made with woven fiberglass, which helps strengthen it and conduct heat evenly throughout the mat, and food-grade silicone, which makes it nonstick and gives it a high heat resistance of 480°F.
While there are many other silicone baking mats on the market now, I’ve always used Silpat specifically because I know they’re super durable and worth the investment. I’ve had some of my Silpats for 15 years, and they’re still going strong!
What Makes Silpat So Great
A Silpat cuts down on one-time consumables like parchment paper which eventually get thrown away after using. Because it’s thicker than paper, it also insulates dough slightly as it bakes, so baked goods are less likely to overly brown or burn.
Silpats are also ideal for making candy. The thick, nonstick surface provides a solid, sturdy base when you’re attempting to peel off sticky, hard candy like English toffee, caramel, or other confections like lollipops. Less-durable parchment paper would just rip or stick to the candy.
Likewise, dough that’s boiled ahead of baking (like bagels or soft pretzels) will stick to parchment paper as that paper soaks up all the liquid. But on the Silpat, bagels and soft pretzels just peel right off.
I’ve even used a Silpat as a surface to roll out dough before baking. It grips the countertop but also provides a nonstick surface for the dough to roll out. And cleanup is easy, since you can just wash the mat in the sink.
Silpat vs Parchment Paper
Some bakers actually prefer baking on parchment sheets because it leads to a crispier cookie. In fact, if you are baking a crispy-style cookie, parchment is the better way to go. The parchment paper itself soaks up some of the fat and helps the cookie dry out a bit more.
But for most chewy, chunky, soft cookies (or other baked goods like scones or rolls), I reach for my Silpat. The fact that I am not going through tons of parchment paper makes me feel less wasteful. And the baked result is often better than what I would get if I had opted for parchment paper.