My Mom had at least 4 different sizes of heavy duty, wood boards made specifically for rolling out pastry, kneading bread, and making pasta. As you can imagine, storing them took up a lot of room. And they were very heavy. Boards of this quality would be difficult to find today. Most of them were made in the lumber mill in McCloud by an Italian relative or friend. Although they made a great work surface and were indestructible, I wanted to find something that worked in my kitchen. It is always easier and more fun to bake when you have good tools, which is why I highly recommend the Silpat Perfect Pastry Non-Stick Silicone Countertop Workstation Mat, 15-1/8” x 23”, available on Amazon.
Silicone pastry mats provide a convenient countertop workstation to work with sticky dough and flour while protecting your counter surfaces. This non slip, non-stick, easy to clean tool will have you rolling out pie crust and cookies and shaping breads and buns like a pro – no sticking, no tearing, and easy clean up. Pastry mats are available in larger sizes than baking mats. They often have printed measurements rings as well as inch measurement marks on the edges, which allows you to roll dough to a specific size without a ruler. Not all silicone pastry mats are heat resistant, so read the description carefully if you plan to bake on the mat. Silicone baking mats can also be used as pastry mats but are heat resistant and can turn any baking sheet or pan into a non-stick surface, no greasing necessary.
DO NOT cut with sharp instruments on your silicone mats. NEVER cut with a sharp knife such as your chef’s knife. You can use tools like crimped pastry cutters, bench cutters, cookie cutters – but press gently. Most silicone mats are made with silicone and fiberglass. If you cut into them, you can release toxic materials that are not food safe. Don’t let this scare you, however. I use pastry cutters, cookie cutters, etc. all the time without any problems.
Sprinkle with a little flour before rolling. When you are done, pick up the mat, shake the excess flour into the trash, and rinse with hot water – no messy counter to scrape and wipe down. They are lightweight, flexible and easy to store! Roll it up for compact storage.
I use my silicone mat primarily as a workstation on my countertop and not to line baking sheets to cook on. I still prefer parchment paper for lining baking sheets. However, I have a smaller mat that is great to use in the oven to catch juicy drips from an over-flowing pie. Clean up is a breeze, no scrubbing necessary! The small size is also excellent for placing under a cutting board to prevent sliding around. And it is the perfect place to store it.
There are many brands and sizes of silicone mats to choose from. I prefer Silpat brand because it is one of the thicker mats and will not slide around on the counter. They are very well made – I have had my original one for several years. Size is important – too small and there is not enough room to roll a piecrust. Too large and there isn’t any room on the countertop for anything else you might need for your project, like an electric mixer or food processor.