Pros: Easy storage, functional for some uses
Cons: Expensive, retains odors, still needs coating
I either need a prescription for some sleeping pills or cancel my credit cards, because insomnia and credit do not mix.
During one my numerous trips out of town, I had a wicked case of insomnia and couldnt find anything on TV but infomercials. I saw this one for Smartware Bakeware, and it truly intrigued me. Chef Tony is a little manic, but the performance of the bakeware was seemingly useful to me. Honest I did not immediately pick up the phone and order compulsively. I wrote down the URL of the website and checked it out further after I got home. I even discussed it with the hubby. He knows absolutely nothing about bakeware, but he was game to let me spend the money to try it. Then I bought it.
What is Smartware?
Smartware is bakeware made from a flexible, silicone-based material called Temperflex, which allows you to take foods from oven to freezer in the same container. The claim to fame for this bakeware is that heat transfers through this material more evenly and efficiently than ordinary glass or metal bakeware supposedly eliminating hot/cold spots, and baking more evenly. This product also boasts a high-gloss, non-stick finish, which is supposed to allow you to use less fat and oil. The company also claims this material wont hold stains or odors.
The Smartware basic set comes with the following pieces:
15 X 9 Cookie Sheet
9 Bundt Pan (2? depth, fluted)
9 X 11 Oblong Baking Pan
9 X 11 Plastic Lid
Standard Size Loaf Pan
Plastic Loaf Pan Lid
8 Plastic Decorating Stencils (4 round, 4 square)
An extended set is also available containing
Two 8 Round Pans
6-cup Muffin Pan
Smartware comes in your choice of three colors, as well: blue, red, or gray.
Directions for Using Smartware
An instruction/recipe booklet comes with each Smartware set, which contains adequate instructions for use. The company warns that Smartware should not be used in oven temperatures exceeding 500? F. Due to the extremely flexible nature of this product, you should always place the bakeware on baking trays (such as metal cookie sheets) for easy placement and removal from the oven. These pieces get extremely hot during the baking process, and you need to allow at least 10 minutes to cool before attempting to touch them or remove food.
Removing food and baked goods is supposed to be easy, but it can be a little tricky. To remove cake, muffins, etc., turn the piece over and apply gentle pressure to the bottom while carefully peeling back or twisting the bakeware. Just those instructions alone look like a recipe for disaster, and it can be. Ive found the trick is to coat the bakeware with floured baking spray and let it completely cool before even attempting to turn out.
Of course, sharp metal utensils should never be used to remove or cut food inside the bakeware. It will slice and rip. Smartware should also never be place on direct heat, like grills, stovetops, or hot plates.
Smartware is completely microwave safe, too. The same rules apply with the microwave as with the oven, especially allowing the proper cooling time. This silicone-based material heats up quickly and holds it longer than metal.
This product is really spiffy in the fact it can go from one extreme temperature to another, such as from the freezer to the oven, and vice versa. Even frozen batter can go straight from freezer to oven/microwave. When freezing things in Smartware, adequately cover the piece with foil or plastic wrap, and make sure it is sitting on a level surface.
Caring for your Smartware
Smartware is completely dishwasher safe, in either the top or bottom rack. If you prefer to not use the dishwasher, soak the pieces in warm soapy water and wipe clean. The company recommends that abrasive soaps or scouring pads not be used, as it can damage the glossy finish and decrease the effectiveness of the product.
If you put Smartware in the dishwasher, I highly recommend using Cascade Plastic Booster with it.
Guarantees & Warranty
Smartware has a lifetime warranty for defects in workmanship only, and only for the original purchaser. There is also a 30-day money back guarantee best put to words by quoting the companys text:
If you discover a defect covered by this warranty, Smartware will either replace or repair the product at its sole discretion. Smartwares liability is limited solely to the repair or replacement of the product (a shipping and processing charge may apply). To obtain service under the specified guidelines, simply contact Customer Service. This guarantee is good for thirty days after you receive your product from Smartware LLC. It guarantees full refund of your purchase price less S&P
Is that a double-edged sword or what? You basically cant get your money back unless the product is defective. You buy it, get used to it, in other words.
Can you see the word sucker tattooed on my forehead?
Ill be fair, there are a few things I like about Smartware. I like the fact it is so easy to store. You can literally wad this stuff up and cram it in a small cabinet or drawer, and it springs back into shape the second you remove it. In this squatty-butt apartment with no room, I pretty much have to do that with it, too. As for cooking with this stuff, its a love-hate relationship.
The cookie sheet is a little small for my taste, but thats just a personal quirk. This piece is very unique in the fact it has a ruler on two sides, for perfect placement. The weird thing about this sheet is the cooking surface is totally opposite of the remainder of the bakeware. In the other pieces, foodstuffs go into the shiny part of the bakeware. This is not so for the cookie sheet, and youd never know it unless those rulers were there. The instruction book certainly doesnt tell you this. From my personal experience, it doesnt matter which side you use, because both of them suck eggs. You are supposedly able to go coating-free when making cookies. Go ahead and try it if you want them to stick. I have never, ever had a chocolate chip cookie stick to a metal pan, either greased or ungreased. I dont normally grease a pan with these cookies because they have enough butter in them to prevent it. But by golly, they stuck like Chuck to this silicone nightmare. I even washed the sheet, then flipped it over to use the shiny side, just in case I was doing it wrong. They stuck there, too. After washing the sheet again, I sprayed it with a little cooking spray. That third batch came out OK, but I was darn angry by that time. I will say this sheet is great for rope breads that dont require a loaf pan.
The oblong pan is OK in a pinch. I have found you must put this pan into the trivet before filling it or putting it in the oven. This stuff is so flexible, it can bend out of shape easily, and leave big bubbly extrusions from a cake. Of course, you should use floured baking spray before baking a cake, too, because it will stick. Everything sticks. I even cooked a pork roast in this pan and it stuck a little.
The loaf pan has the same problem as the oblong pan it can warp and bulge, depending on what you put in it. You really have to make sure batter and dough are evenly spread into these pans, especially this loaf pan. To say something in favor of this loaf pan, it does produce a really nice loaf of bread evenly baked and lightly browned. Breads are also very easy to remove. Softer breads like banana bread are a little more delicate, but when the bakeware is sprayed, they come out very easily. I have to say for any bread, I prefer this piece to glass and metal, which tend to cause over-browning (especially glass).
The muffin pans only have 6 cups, and those cups are small-medium sized. The same story goes for this piece as well Be careful how you fill the cups, and flour-spray them first. My only real gripe is there is one pan, 6 cups, and the cups are too small. Another personal quirk, I guess. I like larger muffins.
Then we get to the round pans. Same story here Flour-spray, even filling. You really have to make sure cake batter is evenly poured into these pans. They hold their shape somewhat better on the sides than the other pans, but any little bit of uneven batter will cause the top of the cake to be mishaped. These round pans do produce a nice cake. Removing delicate cakes can be tricky, and as I said before, let it cool completely (I usually wait an hour) before even attempting to remove.
The bundt pan is just about useless. It isnt deep enough to make a decent cake with. The behavior of the piece with baked good is the same as the rest of the pieces. I think this piece would probably best served as a Jello mold. I havent tried that, though. I normally dont have an occasion to make one.
I dont normally use stencils for decoration, but for the sake of this review, I tried a couple of them out. The verdict on these is that they are totally worthless. You cant use them on top of a frosted cake, for obvious reasons. They are hard plastic, and youll screw up your frosting. These stencils are made for bare cakes, to be used for powdered sugar, cocoa, etc. If youre into that type of decorating, the stencil designs include thin lines, swirls, hearts, stars, dots, Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, and the American flag.
The lids are a nice addition. They are easy to apply, but the problem with them is they dont snap tightly to the bakeware. They just kind of sit there, so theres not much of an airtight seal, and the lids will come off during transport.
The REAL Aggravation
Cleaning this stuff is not as easy as it sounds. When they say soak in warm soapy water, do it. You really have to scrub this stuff repeatedly to get off any food particles that happen to be stuck to it. After that first round of cookies on the cookie sheet, there are still cloudy little circles all over the sheet that just wont come off. Ive pretty much written that sheet off for cookies. Ill still use it for rope breads.
In my honest opinion, this bakeware is best cleaned by hand. The dishwasher does an OK job as long as you use the Plastic Booster product, but you still need to soak it and wipe it down before putting it in there.
Now lets get to what aggravates me most The company claims this stuff does not hold odors. That is so NOT TRUE. I highly recommend that if you are sidled with this bakeware, that you never use barbecue sauce in it. I dont care how much soaking, scrubbing, or dishwasher washing you do, the smell does NOT come out. Not even with the Plastic Booster. My oblong pan is now rendered useless for cakes. Im so afraid my nice chocolate cake will have the whang of barbecue.
Where to Buy (If you feel you must)
You can probably see the infomercials at any given time in the middle of the night, but you may also buy online at www.buysmartware.com.
P.O. Box 3475
Hollywood, CA 90078
You can get a decent deal on the basic set for $39.99, but the expanded set will cost you a good $98 (including S&H). There are also other things they try to rope you into, so be careful when shopping online.
Shortly after buying this stuff, I saw a display for a few of these pieces at Wal Mart. The price was only slightly better, and you can buy only a piece at a time, if desired. At least theres no S&H at Wal Mart.
Save your money. Ill keep using mine as much as I can because I spent all that money on the stuff, but by golly, I dont have to like it.
? 2005 Donna L. Standridge