As the popularity of home baking continues to rise, so has the use of silicone bakeware - cooking aides that are heatproof, flexible and anti-stick.
European Plastics News staff
Posted 25 July 2011
The inventor who first decided to use silicone in baking products was Guy Demarle, a chemical engineer at Rh™ne Poulenc in France. At the end of the 1960s, Demarle decided to apply his knowledge of anti-stick coatings to the moulds used to bake baguettes, at first concentrating on metal mesh materials.
However, Demarle soon found that glass fibre and silicone is the ideal non-stick combination and the Silpat baking tray was born. Demarle set up his own company and began marketing the Silpat at French cake makers (p‰tissiers) as silicone is ideal for gooey or sticky materials and never needs greasing before use. Silpats fit into most sheet pans, and can range in size from as small as a microwave to as large as a commercial restaurant oven.
Silicone - a polymer made up of silicon and oxygen atoms - can withstand temperature of between -40¡C and 280¡C and is a poor conductor of heat. The combination of flexibility and light weight also makes silicone products easy to store.
The success of the Silpat was so great that the Demarle company began working on other moulds, including Flexipan, and now makes 85% of its turnover in exports. The company created a subsidiary in the US in 1993 and a second in Germany in 1996.