It seems that there are many more options for shaped bakeware when you look at all the silicone pans that are available. Silicone definitely has its advantages, and the same thing can be said about metal pans, so when you have the choice between a shaped silicone pan and a shaped metal pan – such as this Chicago Metallic gingerbread pan or this silicone gingerbread pan – which should you choose?
The silicone pan is nonstick and it is easy to pop out a finished cake because the pan can actually be pulled away from the sides of the cake itself to loosen it. This is great for small cakes, but larger cakes can sometimes crack because the pan doesn’t offer their weight enough support when you go to take the cake out of the pan. The sides and top of the cake will not get as dark as they can with a metal pan, and while this can help to keep the cake nice and soft, it can also lead to a loss of detail after baking.
Metal pans need to be greased and usually floured, especially when dealing with shaped bakeware that has lots of little nooks and crannies. The cake can still stick to the inside of the pan and require you to use a knife or something to loosen it enough to pop out. Greasing and flouring can add a smooth, slightly dark “crust” (albeit a soft crust) to the outside of the cake, which is a great surface for catching all the little details of a shaped pan, like the eyes and mouth of a gingerbread person.
Both types of pans will work out, and both have advantages. Shaped silicone offers you an easy way to get your cake out completely intact and without much hassle. Metal pans, so long as your cake doesn’t stick, tend to be better about capturing detail. For me, metal pans last longer and those are what I prefer, but you’re generally going to get a good result with either and I’d keep an eye out for sales and just choose the better deal, if you don’t have your own preference.