Using a silicone baking mat for rolling out dough? (Silpat perhaps)
I’m a novice baker, but still enjoy making some English muffins now and then. I’m currently renting and the only bench space I have to work on is a really awful grout tiled counter and my wooden chopping board. I’m finding my chopping board just too small to really be able to knead dough (plus I seem to need a lot of extra flour) so I’m thinking about purchasing some sort of baking mat to place on the bench.
I’d like to use it to knead and roll out dough, pastry, tortillas, make spring rolls with rice paper, and of course make my dad’s dumplings. I’d like to be able to cut out shapes with a cookie cutter without damaging the mat for scones and English muffins. Are those circles that show how big a pie dish your dough will cover really necessary? Or is that something you just learn the feel of in time? I’ve also read a couple of reviews about some silicone pastry mats not laying flat and always having a permanent crease from being folded.
Finally even if I end up will a Silpat or something similar I’m not interested in using them in the oven instead of parchment paper.
Any thoughts on the baking’s mats below?
Silpat 18X26 (some reviews say the size is actually 16X24 though)
Mario Batali 16X24
Is this something where basic is best or is a more solid construction going to be easier to use?
Try a Tupperware rolling mat. It's basically just a plastic or vinyl sheet with markings on it, and it's tough enough to handle having a cookie-cutter used on it, unlike silicone mats which would be damaged. Look for one of the old-style ones with the red circles for cutting pie crust, they were the best (and I think largest, too).
Wood board is nice. I have not used a silicone baking mat for rolling dough, but I heard there are some problems with those. For very light kneading, they should be fine, but if you are kneading breads or buns, you can end up pushing it around. In addition, the mat can roll up with your dough.
Echoing bushwickgirl's suggestion about the heavy wooden board. Could you go to a Lowe's or Menard's or some other home improvement place to get a board? That's what I use (and I put some plastic protectors on the bottom, to protect the kitchen table (where I place the board when I'm using it).
Is it possible to get a larger heavy wooden cutting board for your bench space? I prefer wooden cutting boards for kneading, rolling out dough (although a Silpat is nice for that) and cutting on. You cannot cut on a silicon mat without cutting into it. You stabilize a cutting board by placing a damp towel under it. You can do the same with a Silpat, btw.
There are nice heavy-duty "green" bamboo boards available now, less than or about the same price and size as the larger Silpats. Certain brands can take a lot of knife abuse without showing and are pretty low maintainance. Silpats are great but not for cutting dough on, rather to bake on, and since you're not planning on using them in the oven, I think a cutting board might better suit your needs.
Yes, I've heard that it is important to perfom due diligence especially when buying bamboo, as with any wooden cutting board. CI had a review of bamboo boards recently and named a few winners from the Totally Bamboo line, available at amazon, and they also liked this maple cutting board combo, which I want:
Or go all out and get a John Boos, which, with proper care, you'll have for life.
I have a silicone mat that I got from King Arthur flour, and I love it. However, it is far too delicate to cut things out on, so I would never use it for that. I use it primarily for rolling out pie dough, though I am sure it would make an excellent surface on which to knead bread, though it possibly could slip around a bit depending on how aggressive you are with the kneading. I have silpats that fit my sheet pans, but I usually use a piece of parchment instead of them when baking. I can throw the parchment out making cleanup easier. You could also probably use parchment to cut things on. King Arthur flour (I'm really not shilling for them!) sells pre-cut sheets that perfectly fir a sheet pan or cookie sheet. BTW, the Mario Baltali one looks a lot like the KA one. I'm not sure the lines are necessary, but they don't get in the way and might occasionally be helpful.