Making Your Own Silicone Molds
Posted 19 September 2003 - 07:51 PM
Thank you for your elegant response and practical analogy to the various issues regarding competitions. I just wanted to add that the history of pastry competition is very young.. I think the biggest event 10 years ago was the Pillsbury bakeoff. It has come along way….and will continue to move quickly. Drawing too strong of artistic conclusions from such a young event can be limiting. I know that things are being repeated in the events… but I assure you that is changing already.
Wendy’s comments make me realize how important it is that more people see what happens behind the scenes of a competition. The public gets to view the event on TV or at the most Live… but the inner workings… that is the real story. I think a great show could be made about the history of a team going to competition… a “Hoop Dreams” documentary that follows a team for over a year. Any TV people out there? ….Seriously.
I have worked with teams during their developmental time and see first hand the amount of thought, preparation and sacrifice that it takes to compete. Some chefs that I know refuse to compete anymore because they do not want to trade their marriage for the pursuit of an award.
I hope that Wendy is not serious when she asked if all S. Canonne did was fill the molds for his MOF semifinals.. It is unfortunate that a conclusion like that could even be assumed based on one small photo in a magazine. Canonne is a remarkable chef. He and all of the other semi finalists were required to present a complete buffet… his had over 100 elements in it.. The snake and the apple were just a pinch in the whole scheme. The making and use of those two molds is featured as separate chapters in my book (you will see it is not as easy as just filling the mold)…and my only frustration is that I had to go to print before I could include photos from his completed MOF display in France.
I remember meeting with Sebastien before the event where he was describing to me his creation.. He brought a 4” thick binder full of notes, designs, research/inspiration pictures… etc to my shop. The amount of preparation for that event was unbelievable… and that was just for the semifinals. I wish we could watch the MOF competitions like we can watch the others.
On another note… I am curious if anyone out there is pouring any silicone? Any good wipeouts to report! Ha.
Posted 19 September 2003 - 09:39 PM
I look to these national and international chef/competitors as the most elite heros of our profession. Perhaps I've gone over the edge of idolizing these competitions, because I never saw their work as something that could be compared to ice skating....and I find that comparision to be a let down.
"the history of pastry competition is very young" "It has come a long way ....and it will continue to move quickly"
That's part of what I've tried to say. Whats being done and written about in current pastry work is to me, mind blowing, very advanced thought provoking work. I was just trying to say (and I still think this) that the centerpieces aren't on that same level-yet. Perhaps that's because of the judging or the rules, but I know that people that can think so intelligently and creatively can indeed produce a visual product to match. I'd hate to see preconcieved thoughts of what showpieces should be, limit what they can be in such creative pastry chefs.
I believe in technical perfection being very important but if it out weighs artistry and creativity in Show Pieces I simply refuse to understand and go along with it. Especially now that mold making can be learned and practiced by everyone (I didn't say it was easy) and minds are open to stepping away from preconcieved notions of what dessert should be....I think the time is ripe for the artistry of show pieces to grow in importance.
Wow........I really do stand alone...............?
Posted 24 September 2003 - 08:36 PM
This online thing is great. ...Wendy, I hardly think you stand alone... I think that the people reading this string can appreciate your view.
I wish I had been able to respond sooner...didn't mean to create a dramatic pause...just knee deep in mold making at the shop. This is always a busy time...racing the weather at job sites.
Can I open a new topic????
Is there anyone out there using silicone molds to bake with... (Other than the flexipan things)?
The reason I ask is because I am interested to know what a baker would use a mold for... I see the chocolate and sugar all the time...but do not hear about the baking angle. I would like to add a few supplimental chapters to the book in the next printing and want to include bakery use of silicone molds... any ideas???
Posted 24 September 2003 - 10:19 PM
Wow I think the applications of making your own molds to bake in would be much farther spreading then molds made for sugar or chocolate work. Since there's more people baking then doing show pieces.
Typically silicone molds aren't great for baking because of how they don't transmit heat as well as metal. Is there anyway we can make silicone molds more baking freindly? With all your contacts into the culinary world you must have a few really skilled chefs out there experimenting with this, if so can you share any info. you've learned thru them?
As far as what we would use this for...I think the possiblities are endless. It would let us bake items that fit a theme, like individual sized turkey or bunny cakes or things like rollerskates or computors. If I wanted madeleines or rolls for a "shore dinner" I could shape them like lobsters or crabs. It could save us time especially when it comes to individually portioned desserts. Also I would like to make molds that fit the size I want and need instead of having to compromise with whats available.
Please tell us more?
Posted 26 September 2003 - 05:30 PM
I called a chef today…he was not certain what would happen when we bake IN a mold. I suggested preheating the mold until it is near the temperature needed for baking and then plunk the dough in and see what happens. Very scientific. Can you tell I bake every day???? NOT!
What would you recommend?
(Regarding what type of silicone to use for baking… It needs to be a platinum cured silicone. The platinum’s have a high service temperature. Depending on the silicone… 300-500F. It will take some testing to see which one behaves the best.)
Posted 26 September 2003 - 07:30 PM
Hopefully the link I've posted below will work. Can you explain how what your talking about would be similar or different then what's shown at this web site?
For instance, could you design the silicone so it's thinner, which I think would cut down the way silicone shields the heat. If the mold was very thin could it be pressed or inserted into something else that helped conduct the heat more intensely near the silicone(with out harming it)?....So your heat temp. would balance out on the whole surface of the baked good. Instead of the way if works now, the silicone blocks the heat.
Pressed or inserted into a sheet pan full of something like: small ceramic beads or metal shavings (or course they'd have to be safe etc...).
What baked goods would we reccomend for plunking into a hot mold? Popovers are "plunked" into a preheated mold. Perhaps items that bake quickly or are thin like cookies or madelienes. Typical items I'm familar with using in silicone molds are items that I need to shield from heat like baked custards and cheesecakes.
Have you contacted someone like Rose Levy B.who's very into the science of baking to see if she has an interest in developing recipes suitable for silicone?
Posted 27 September 2003 - 08:39 AM
Michael--I think your best approach is that this would offer the ultimate in customization to a baker or pastry chef. Say you were a pastry chef at a Disneyworld Resort and were known for your little round tea cakes. Using this skill--assuming you could bring production and materials in cost-effectively--would allow that pastry chef to create his own teacake mold with the logo of his resort set into the shape--so when he turned out the cake it had the logo "embossed." Kind of cool, don't you think? And no more difficult to make than a simple chocolate-silicone mold say of a one-sided medal or coin. The challenge technically would be to produce a half sheet mold or a full sheet mold of them.
You offer them infinite unique shapes versus the limited sizes and shapes produced by Demarle, Gastroflex, whatever.
How about we create and market a "flexipan" of the alphabet and numbers 1 through 9? That way in the same mold you could mold off tempered chocolate letters, poured sugar letters, even bake letters off of some type of cake or tuile batter.
Thanks by the way for joining in here--you're helping make this a more special place.
Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant
Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo
Posted 28 September 2003 - 07:38 PM
Thanks for the local support. I am curious.. Who are the locals that would help?
I looked at the website… Those molds are made from a different process. The silicones that I am talking about are RTV. Room Temperature Vulcanization… simply put.. A liquid base and catalyst that when mixed together vulcanizes into a rubber at room temperature. The flexi pans involve heat and equipment that is not readily available to the chef.
However, working with RTV silicones is within reach. I have not considered setting a mold into some other material for heat transfer.. It is important to note that when silicone is thin, it does not hold its shape…stabilizing it with anything other than a specially made mother mold would cause the mold (liner) to distort.
The silicone does not block the heat…it holds the heat. If you heat up the mold…it will hold the temperature. Some silicones are even conductive.
“Have you contacted someone like Rose Levy B.who's very into the science of baking to see if she has an interest in developing recipes suitable for silicone?”
No I have not.
You are right on the money with the custom embossing. I am working on products for that very thing at the moment. The catch is that the cost is high. Many people do not realize the up front cost a company like DeMarle absorbs in order to mass produce their flexi pans at a reasonable cost.
“The challenge technically would be to produce a half sheet mold or a full sheet mold of them.”
Not really a challenge. It takes a little more time but what you are describing is a gang mold. It is made by starting with one model that you sculpt/machine etc… then you make a silicone mold of it… and then cast dozens of resin copies… Layout the resin copies on a board…and pour silicone over them…viola… you have a gang mold.
Earlier this year, a chef asked me to consider making the numbers and the alphabet…but I thought there were just too many sizes and styles to select from…and would end up spending a lot of time on tooling that did not sell. Am I missing the mark?
Posted 28 September 2003 - 07:52 PM
Posted 28 September 2003 - 07:52 PM
I thought I would start posting emails that I recieve from people looking for information. I figure there are many more people reading than posting ... so this might be helpful to a few. (Pardon my typos in advance... I am doing this on the fly.)
I'm working on a chocolate project where I'd need to make custom molds. I
wasn't able to find Notter's product online. Might you be able to provide a
URL or contact?
***** Ewald Notter's products and silicones are sold through Albert Uster Imports. AUISwiss.com . You will find the goods there.
Given your experience, for small to medium size, front only (not a true
360-degree piece) chocolate "reliefs" what would be the best and most cost
effective product for mass production?
**** Three answers... The most cost effective depends on your definition of mass production. If your shape is simple.. you should look into having someone make plastic vacuum form molds for you... They are less expensive than silicone.
If you are looking for material less expensive than Uster's... have a look at Chefrubber.com. They have many things for the mold making chef.
If you are fixed on silicone... and want the least expensive way to go... Purchasing one of Dow Cornings "Silistic" silicones will be your best bet. But be warned... you should be experienced with silicone before tackling Dows silicones.. They are platinum cured and can be touchy to work with... ie. might not cure against all surfaces. Buying from Dow will reduce you silicone costs from $40 lb down to 10-20 per pound depending on the quantity you buy.
Also, what material would you suggest to use for the creation of the
**** Sculpt your original in whatever medium you are most comfortable with. Then make a silicone mold of the sculpture... and cast resin duplicates with Smooth Cast 300 (from Smooth-on.com) . The methods for working with the resin are shown in my book. If you do not want to use resin, plaster will work well... but it will not capture fine detail as good as the resin...
**** Happy molding!
Posted 28 September 2003 - 07:59 PM
Posted 29 September 2003 - 09:37 AM
We need to start by saying that in no way are we pastry chefs, however we feel like we can add to this topic because we have been making molds for many years. We are cake decorators who were frustrated by the high cost of silicone molds so we decided to challenge ourselves by making our own over three years ago. Here are a number of things we have learned that may help.
1. If you are going to use the molds for any type of food contact the silicone must be platinum cured. Platinum is a precious metal which creates a very pure, clean, odorless, food safe silicone.
2. Liquid platinum cured RTV (room temperature vulcanizing or silicone that can cure at room tempurature) is a wonderful product but here are a few drawbacks for a pastry chef working in a kitchen. This product usually needs to be degassed before pouring. When you mix the silicone with the catalyst (usually 10/1 ratio) air pockets form so when you pour two things can happen, you will see bubbles throughout your mold, when the bubbles start to break during curing, your mold can become distorted, rendering it useless or the bubbles remain without bursting still rendering it useless. You need a vacuum chamber to pour the silicone in and degass it then pour the mold. There are a few tricks that may help so you can avoid degassing. One is to mix the silicone then use a channel ( a paper towel holder, cut in half and wrapped in plastic wrap works ) to pour the silicone down in a long thin stream to avoid bubbles. The second is to mix the silicone then place it in the freezer for a while until it degasses naturally, then pour the mold. The freezer method doesn't work with all silicones though. Platinum silicones are addition cured which means that the more heat the faster the cure so by putting it into the freezer your slowing the cure time. I would suggest trying this with a small amount of silicone first.
3. Never use a master made from clay unless it is kleen klay specifically made for the molding process. Most clay's will interfere with platinum silicones ability to cure. Plaster, permastone or resin work very well as masters. If you are designing your own piece make it from clay then you can make a temporary mold by using insta mold and make a master by pouring plaster into the temporary mold.
4. Platinum silicone putty that you mix by hand works very well for small flat molds, we have over 500 on our website right now. You can bake in them , no problem! We have made mini cakes in them, they work wonderfully. The only thing you need to remember is to lower the oven temperature by five or ten degrees because silicone holds the heat so well, and watch them closely because cooking time is usually much faster.
We are in the process of making larger molds right now as well as 3D molds that you can pour into for baking or molding chocolate pieces etc...
We placed keys into the molds so you can fit them together perfectly and stand them up with a metal band (or rubber band if you aren't baking in them)to hold them together. We plan on trying one out in the next week or so. We will let you know how well it works.
Sorry this ended up so long but we wanted to try and help as much as possible. Please feel free to mail us if you have any questions, or post them and we will help if we can. Thanks and good luck!
Adrienne & Teri
First Impressions Molds
Posted 14 October 2003 - 05:37 PM
I am assuming everyone out there has been as busy as I have recently.. I was surprised to see the postings dry up.... (Busy or not I keep an eye on the site.)
Has anyone out there worked with the First Impression molds? Can anyone add to the list of other companies that are selling ready to use silicone molds? I am curious to know what else is out there.
Posted 05 November 2003 - 12:53 AM
Posted 06 November 2003 - 09:20 PM
First off, I do not recommend using any silastic products for this project. The Silastic silicone will be far to stiff to cast a delicate chocolate piece. I recommend contacting Chefrubber.com. They have a variety of silicones that are fda approved and are very soft.
Also, I do not think that the plastic molds will give you a very believable look. If you are going to look into buying a mold of a flower… look into silicone molds for casting soap or candles… the (flower) models have been designed with thicker pedals which will cast nicely in chocolate, However, the molds will NOT be food grade. You will have to copy the mold by making a plaster casting from the soap mold and then pour food grade silicone over the plaster flower.
I should bring up a mold making principle…and that is.. Anything is moldable but that doesn’t mean that it is castable. For example, if I make a mold of a real flower. The pedals are paper thin. I cannot expect chocolate to flow into such a narrow space in the mold… and if it does flow in, I cannot expect the paper thin chocolate to stay in one piece while I bend and flex the mold off of the chocolate casting.
A few tricks for molding flowers…
1. Dip them a few times in melted paraffin wax to thicken and stiffen the flower. Some flowers will dip well and others will shrivel up.
2. If that does not work, try dipping a “silk” flower into the wax. Silk plants work well for mold making… although you must be sure that they are completely sealed. Silicone will soak into the small weave of silk and bond to it.
3. Make sure to dip the flower enough time to create a thickness that looks like it will be strong enough to be cast in chocolate.
4. Use a sulfur free oil clay to fill in the deepest cavities in the wax covered flower. This should be done with care. Blend the clay into the flower cleanly. If your work is sloppy here, the mold will duplicate it and make for a sloppy casting.
How to mold it: (A crash test approach.)
1. Hot glue the flower…stem side down (remove the stem) onto a laminated work board. The flower must be secure or it will float up when you pour silicone over it.
2. Construct a small retaining wall (mold box) around the flower. Use a non porous material such as a plastic container to make the mold box. Do not make the mold box too big, it should only be ¼ inch wider (on all sides) than the outermost edges of the flower. (some people use legos to make a mold box)
3. Mix up and pour your silicone (in a very thin stream) over the rose. If you pour too quickly or in a thick (pencil like thickness) stream, the silicone mold will have a lot of air bubbles in it. POUR SLOWLY.
4. Allow the silicone to cure for 24 hours and then post cure it… (instructions will be on the container)
5. Remove the flower from the work board and use a pair of manicure scissors to cut a clean circular opening on the bottom of the flower. (The opening should be made large enough so that chocolate can be easily poured into the mold.)
6. It will be likely that the flower will not be able to be pulled out the small opening at the stem. You will need to use a razor knife and cut 2 or 3 slices on the outside of your mold… do not cut the mold in half…just cut the outer most layer (like scoring an orange so that you can peel it) so that the mold can be flexed open wide enough to remove the flower.
Regarding this project as a job.
Monique, Do not accept this job if you have never made a mold before. You will loose you’re A$$ on the deal. Try the process first on your own time without the pressure of a client… it can end up costing you a lot if you promise chocolate roses for somebody’s special occasion and then cannot deliver. DO NOT TAKE THIS AS A JOB… DO NOT… DO NOT….
Practice first and write down how much you spend on materials, how long it took to make the mold and how long it takes to cast a perfect flower. (It may be that you only get one good casting out of 10.)
Let us know of your outcome,
Posted 07 November 2003 - 12:37 AM
Posted 07 November 2003 - 06:39 PM
To make a mold of the releif logo should be relatively easy.. my only concern would be the thin petals... as I mentioned above in the previous response. (Your chef is right.. silicone will capture the detail nicely.)
As far as the custom mold makers request to carve it into a bar of soap... I haven't heard that one before.
Posted 12 November 2003 - 02:55 PM
(This is my Brand New site so some things my still be missing pictures and info)
I hope that Chef Rubber makes it possible for all you Artisan Chefs to start making your own molds.