Silicone bakeware and cast iron pans have long been staple items in the assortments of most gourmet housewares retailers. Today, items in both product categories are seeing a resurgence as consumers are finding the flexibility offered by silicone and the durability cast iron provides as perfect solutions for their home baking needs.
“Silicone products represent form and function,” said Sara Miskovic, proprietor of The Pan Handle, located in Granbury, TX. “Moms really want to bake but moms don’t have any time. With silicone, they don’t have to spend a lot of time cleaning up and can go back to spending time with their families.”
Miskovic said that recently, the material has “exploded” in her store with people asking for more than just cupcake and muffin silicone pans.
“Silicone bakeware is getting bigger and bigger for me, personally. People are just using this material more and more because it’s easy to use. [Customers] are even coming in looking for loaf pans and other types of basic pans because the material really fills a need for my customers,” Miskovic said.
Mary Behrans, owner of Crystal Lake, IL-based Kitchen Outfitters, said she has also been seeing the silicone trend take off in her store.
“People really seem to want silicone and they want all of the staples — brownie pans, cupcake pans, even the free-standing silicone cupcake molds have been selling,” she said.
Marilyn Alea, owner of Kitchen Store and More at Oconee Interiors in Eatonton, GA, said her customers tend to prefer bakeware made from traditional materials, as her customer demographic skews older. However, new silicone-coated metal bakeware that recently hit the market has been a boon with buyers.
“People just love the ease of cleaning — we like maintenance-free here. And, you can get a real even cook or bake on them and the aluminum doesn’t touch the food. Our customers are really health-conscious, too,” she said.
While silicone bakeware is selling well for retailers, silicone accessories are also gaining traction. Retailers agreed that silicone baking mats have been money makers recently. This is because baking mats don’t just cater to home bakers — they are enjoying some sweet success as home chefs are using them for savory meals as well, retailers said.
“I roast vegetables on them all the time and I have shared that with my customers. They love them because they are so easy to clean. They just have to wipe it down and don’t end up with a mess,” said Miskovic.
Behrans explained that she also roasts vegetables on the mats on a regular basis and her customers have taken to that tactic as well.
“I really sell a lot of them to home cooks. People love them because they can be protecting their pans — and their investment — for longer-term use,” she said.
Behrans has also seen a continued demand for silicone molds in her store as well, however, some of her customers have gotten a bit more creative about these goods.
“We are actually seeing a lot of bakers that are coming in for our silicone ice molds,” she said. “They are using them to make chocolates or candy melts. They are the perfect size for these things and we have a lot of different shapes.”
Cast Iron Stays Hot
While silicone products have been making the jump from sweet to savory, retailers have seen what is normally reserved for cookware — cast iron — making waves in the bakeware market.
“I have actually had customers come in and specifically request cast iron for baking,” said Behrans. “I cannot keep my 10-inch skillet in stock and this is one of the reasons.”
She explained that baked goods like skillet brownies and cookies have become mainstream in recent years as gift sets featuring a small cast iron pan and treat mixes have made their way around during the holiday gift-giving season. Home bakers now want to re-create this on a larger scale as well as take their baking skills and presentation up a notch.
Miskovic, too, has seen cast iron boom for bakers in her area. She explained that while skillets are popular for bakers, she has been seeing an array of cast iron products going out the door for baking projects.
“My customers seem to be liking a cast iron loaf pan and they feel like it’s worth the investment because it can be used so many other ways. But, people are also buying Dutch ovens to make cobblers because cobblers done in a Dutch oven are amazing. But, people are also interested in skillets and single-serve pieces of cast iron to make skillet cookies and skillet brownies,” she said.