For my two young daughters, the color’s the thing, and how “feely,” or tactile, it is. For grown-ups, its inherent nonstick qualities combined with its flexibility are the key. The promise of being able to peel out a cake, or have your muffins slip out without being coaxed by a knife, is appealing to say the least. Theoretically, you can do away with greasing and flouring (although some makers of the bakeware suggest you still do so if the recipe requires it), making it an ideal tool for low fat baking.
The pans are undoubtedly versatile. They can be rolled up for storage, and twisted and misshapen any number of ways (though why you would want to beats me!). The pans can be used in the freezer, the microwave or the oven, and are generally dishwasher-safe. Silicone bakeware is non-porous so it doesn’t retain odors or flavors. It takes only a minute or two to cool down after use, and because of its nonstick qualities, clean-up is a breeze.
Silicone seems to distribute heat evenly, but as with dark metal pans or regular nonstick tins, cakes baked in silicone pans may require less time in the oven. And despite withstanding a wide range of temperatures, not all pans can withstand the highest heats. Some claim to work up to 500 degrees, others set an upper limit of 428 degrees, which could rule out some of your favorite muffin recipes.
Finally, because the pans are flexible they should be handled with care. It is best to place them on a tray or cookie sheet before filling them and taking them to the oven or freezer. Taking a filled muffin pan to the oven without doing so would be challenging to say the least.
So whether silicone bakeware is ideal for all our baking needs remains to be seen, but there seem to be enough good reasons to add a splash of color to our kitchens and be rid of those rusty old cake tins.