Silicone molds are my favorite way to bake mini cakes, and I often get questions whenever I use them. It's understandable since it's a relatively new baking material - so here's a post detailing all my tips on baking with silicone.
Silicone is rubber-like manufactured material containing no plastic. It's widely used in the medical device, baby product, and food manufacturing industries. For baking, use food-grade silicone, typically indicated on the manufacturer's labeling. These silicones are heat-safe up to 400°F/205°C.
Silicone is flexible, which is pretty different than other metal-based baking pans you may be used to. Generally, these types of molds are not only oven-safe but also microwave-safe and freezer-safe.
Silicone baking mats have been around for years - I use mine as a reusable eco-friendly alternative to disposable baking sheet liners such as foil. (They're pretty great for macarons.) Using them as a pan to bake liquidy stuff like cake and muffin batters has a few differences from working with metal, so let's get into it.
The mold I use to make my mini cakes creates perfectly flat 4-inch (in diameter) layers that are a little less than an inch tall. There are 6 holes (or "cavities" as the mold industry refers to them), and each holds about 2 cupcakes worth of batter.
I use these layers to make lunchbox cakes, which are cute mini cakes that fit in takeout containers.
This post goes over how I specifically use this mold, but you can use these tips for baking in all kinds of silicone molds.
Each hole in the mold can be filled with about 2 cupcakes worth of batter. That means that each of these molds holds about the same quantity of batter you'd use for 12 cupcakes.
Typical cupcake recipes or one box of cake mix (such as those from Pillsbury, Duncan Hine's, and Betty Crocker) create enough batter for 24 cupcakes. In that case, you'd need two molds.
Silicone is naturally a bit nonstick on its own. Usually, my cakes have enough fat and sugar and will not stick to the surface without any extra greasing.
That being said, just grease the pan anyways. It's a bit of insurance to get that cake out later and doesn't really have any adverse effect on the final cake. A gentle light spray of cooking oil is all you need.
You will just use the temperature indicated in the cake recipe. For my Cakeculator, all of my cakes bake at 350°F/176°C.
One thing to note. Although the mold will get hot and thoroughly cook your cake, it does not conduct heat as efficiently as metal pans.
This just means there won't be as much browning on the cake surfaces in contact with the mold. I don't mind this because it gives the finished cake a consistent look and color, even on the bottoms and sides.
These silicone molds for my mini cakes have a very short yet wide interior baking cavity, so it's a relatively small cake if you're used to baking 6 or 8-inch rounds.
I find that it bakes at almost the same time as a cupcake tray. All of my cupcakes bake from 18-22 minutes, and these cakes usually finish baking around the 21-22 minute mark.
If you're using a cupcake recipe other than mine, use the recipe's timing as a guideline. Start checking for doneness at the shortest time given in the recipe.
If you're using a different type of mold than what I'm showing here, you'll have to experiment a bit to get the timing right.
To remove cakes from this mold, allow the cake to cool slightly.
At this point, I also like to trim the tops off of the cakes. This is helpful while they're still in the mold because the mold serves as a guide, and you'll get perfect even layers of cake.
Then gently pull the sides away from each cake. You can flip the mold over very quickly onto a flat surface to remove all the cakes, and they should fall out.
If you're unsure or baking a new recipe, try removing just one cake by inverting the mold to gently push out the cake. One of the advantages of using silicone is that it's flexible, so bend the mold as much as you need to so you don't break the cake.
Step 1. Prepare the mold.
Spray the molds with some cooking oil. Place your molds on a baking sheet BEFORE filling. (Moving an unsupported silicone mold filled batter is a recipe for disaster.) The metal tray also helps transfer heat to the bottom of the mold while in the oven.
Step 2. Scoop the prepared cake batter into the mold.
I'm using a scoop to portion out my batter, and I put two scoops into each hole, which comes out to about 2/3 cup of batter. For most cake recipes, you'll want the batter to reach about 75% high inside the hole. That way, it will rise above and allow you to trim it down, so it's a perfectly flat cake cylinder.
Step 3. Gently tap to remove any large air bubbles.
It will depend on the recipe, but all of my recipes need 2-3 firm taps on the counter to remove any big air pockets. It's such a shallow mold that an air pocket can make a significant dent on the bottom of your cake, so settling the batter before baking is essential.
Step 4. Bake.
Use the cake recipe's temperature. (Mine are all baked at 350°F/176°C.) These cakes take around 18-22 minutes to bake.
Step 5. Allow cakes to cool slightly before trimming.
Remove the mold from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Once I can touch the cakes without it being painful (they are still quite warm though), it's time to trim off the tops. Using a long serrated knife and the mold as a guide, gently slice off the cake tops so that your mini cake layers are all even.
Step 6. Quality Control
Those cake tops are strictly for quality control measures. Take a taste while they're still slightly warm and ensure your cake is delicious, which I know it is. Moving on.
Step 7. Remove mini cakes.
Gently pull the sides to ensure there's no cake sticking. If cakes look like they have shrunken away from the sides, it's probably easier to flip the entire silicone mold onto a flat surface all at once. They should all fall out. (See the rainbow mini cakes I made earlier in this post.)
If you have any doubts, try to remove one cake by inverting the mold. Remember, the mold is flexible, so bend it if necessary.
Step 8. Use immediately or store for later.
If you're using the mini cakes soon, you can let them sit on the rack. If it's more than a half-hour, I always wrap my cakes so they don't dry out.
For these, I put little squares of parchment in between each cake layer and stack them 5 or 6 layers tall. Then I wrap them in plastic wrap. You can keep them like this for a couple days on the counter or double wrap them and put them in freezer bags for a couple weeks.
Would you like to try one of my recipes with this mold? I have lots of flavors listed in my Cakeculator - just select the cake flavor and for the Pan Size select "4 inch Mini Cakes, Round."
I also have quite a few videos with tips on using this mold as well as assembling mini cakes or lunchbox cakes.