Don’t break the mould

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD -

Sil­i­cone bake­ware – brightly coloured, sup­ple kitchen­ware – has be­come very pop­u­lar. It is pos­si­ble to buy a full set of cake pans, muf­fin pans, bundt tins and ev­ery style of dec­o­ra­tive mould imag­in­able. I avoided sil­i­cone for a time af­ter a few harem scarem ex­pe­ri­ences trans­port­ing heavy bat­ters from a work sur­face to the oven. Of course, once you get used to the re­quire­ment for a bak­ing sheet un­derneath to avoid spillages, it be­comes child’s play.

Many chefs I know use sil­i­cone daily in patis­series, bak­eries and other pro­fes­sional kitchens. I de­cided to give them an­other go.

They are light­weight, flex­i­ble and in­ex­pen­sive, and their main ap­peal for me is that bakes sim­ply pop out nat­u­rally. How­ever, most bak­ers agree that sil­i­cone is not great for large bakes, as the lack of rigid­ity can bend large cakes and cause them to crack. For cook­ies with a crisp bot­tom, I still prefer to use stan­dard metal bak­ing sheets. It is per­fectly pos­si­ble to grease, flour and pa­per line most bakes to avoid stick­ing.

For me sil­i­cone moulds work best for small del­i­ca­cies such as these 3cm x 8cm mini cake/ loaf moulds ( they come in a tray of nine moulds). One tray is suf­fi­cient, as the cake bat­ter will sit once made, so you can re­fill the mould with left­over bat­ter. I love the way the bat­ter rises into uni­form bars that don’t stick to the sides. The rec­tan­gu­lar shape means the mould is also us­able for chilled savoury and other sweets.

If you prefer to stick to your stan­dard bake­ware, this cho­co­late cake recipe can be baked in a square cake tin ( it will need to be baked for 40 min­utes). Then smaller bars can be cut us­ing a ser­rated knife to give a sim­i­lar ef­fect.

At this time of year I al­ways en­joy putting that lit­tle bit of ex­tra time into jazz­ing up my bakes. Sug­ared rose petals are not for ev­ery­one, but I couldn’t re­sist buy­ing a small bag of fra­grant pink petals at a food mar­ket. In this recipe I used a mix­ture of chopped rose petals, nuts and a lit­tle Crunchie bar dust to give a fes­tive feel, but a sin­gle sprin­kling of any of them would suf­fice.

These pretty cho­co­late cake bars are per­fect for pass­ing around at teatime or can be served as a dessert with some ice cream or cream. You can fill the bars with any jam or curd of your choice, but apri­cot jam is re­ally de­li­cious. Nuts Rose petals Crunchie Mint leaves

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