Unitasker Wednesday: Bullseye baking

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Like many home cooks heading into the holiday baking season, I am a fan of using silicone coated baking mats. Instead of greasing cookie sheets or lining them with parchment paper, I use the silicone mat. It’s reusable and versatile. In addition to keeping cookies and pastries from sticking to a pan, it’s also perfect for making melted sugar and chocolate embellishments for desserts — they pop right off when they have cooled — and as a pan liner when baking fish. I predominantly use half cookie sheets when baking (they fit in my dishwasher since they’re only 18″ x 13″), and the half-sheet silicone mat works exactly as I need it to.

Reader Mary Ann appears to be on the same page as I am in regard to the versatility of standard silicone mats. As a result, when she came across this week’s highly specialized item, she said she just “HAD to share” it with us. It’s called the Baker’s 13 baking mat, but I’m going to call it a unitasker:

To be fair, nothing is stopping a person from using this mat for other baking purposes. The cookie police likely wouldn’t hunt you down if you tossed a salmon down on it. However, the designers certainly intended for it to be used for cookies.

And — here’s my biggest issue with it and what makes it a unitasker — it doesn’t actually ensure that you’ll have perfectly shaped cookies like the product is advertised to do. From the product description: “Baker’s 13 Ultimate Baking Mats turn out perfectly-shaped cookies every time” But, all it actually ensures is that you evenly space cookies out on a sheet so they probably won’t bump into each other.

To have a perfectly shaped cookie, you would need to use a cookie cutter or bake the cookies in forms. But, this sheet assumes you are using the blob, spooned-out-dough method, which doesn’t make perfectly shaped cookies. Just because there is a perfectly round bullseye on this mat doesn’t mean your blobs of dough will grow to that perfectly round shape as they bake. Also, the mat doesn’t account for the height of your blob of dough, which is a key factor in determining the final size of the baked cookie more so than its pre-baked width. It also doesn’t account for dough consistency, as some cookie doughs spread more than others when heated. (The higher the fat content in the dough, the more they usually spread when cooking.) So, even if you perfectly blobbed your dough onto the smaller target, your cookie still might grow to be larger than the larger target and end up touching a neighboring cookie.

As a silicone mat, I’m sure it’s lovely and the inventors of the mat look like awesome guys and if you have issues with figuring out how to space cookies on a cookie sheet so they don’t run into each other this mat most likely could help you (but so would a multitasking ruler and an understanding of the fat content in your dough). Unfortunately, if you’re looking to buy it to make perfectly shaped cookies as it is advertised, this mat isn’t going to help you achieve that goal.

13 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Bullseye baking”

  1. posted by Scooper on

    If you use the measured portion scoopers (look like different sizes of ice cream scoops) or are making thin batter cookies like tuiles, this is indeed useful for spacing and uniform cookies. Let’s not blame the sheet if the baker can’t portion accurately! I’m not affiliated with the company, I swear ;) but you do see things like this in pro kitchens.

  2. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Scooper — Oooh! We could do a whole other unitasker post on the unitaskerness of those dough scoops :)

  3. posted by jenny on

    I normally get a good laugh out of these unitasker posts. However this one leaves me frowning. I would like to get a silicone mat for baking as I don’t have one. Last week, I was looking at this one because I thought the circles made it more versatile (and less unitasker-y) than the non-decorated mats. Plus I think this is prettier than the plain mats.

  4. posted by Vanessa on

    I actually have a dough scoop and it’s pretty awesome – prevents those batches of cookies where some are overdone and some are underdone because they’re all different sizes. It would also make a good melon baller if you’re someone who likes melon.

  5. posted by Kate M. on

    Seems like it would be fantastic for piping perfectly round and uniform French macaron shells…which I suppose is a unitask…but drawing uniform circles on a rolling piece of parchment paper before piping is such a pain, I’d be willing to over look it.

  6. posted by Kel on

    WOW! This one is definitely not a unitasker to me. I regularly make cookies, and I use a scoop so that they bake evenly. This scoop also makes mini ice cream servings for my toddler, I use it as a melon baller, I use it to fill muffin tins, and I definitely don’t consider it a unitasker. Surely I could use two spoons, but it doesn’t come out as well and takes WAY longer. So, in addition to their cookie placement suggestions, you can use a silicone mat for:
    - rolling out pie dough so that it grips to the counter and is easy to transfer the dough
    - lining a baking pan under a pie to catch drips, easier to clean
    - baking all sorts of other things– anything with puff pastry, rustic tartes, anything with melting cheese to make cleanup easier
    And you store it inside a sheet pan. So it takes up far less space than a roll of parchment paper.

    I already have silicone mats, but if I ever need to replace one I will ABSOLUTELY replace it with this “unitasker,” which seems to me to be a big improvement!

  7. posted by Jeanne Thelwell on

    Why is this a unitasker? Can’t the mats be used like any other baking mat if you aren’t making cookies?

  8. posted by KL on

    I would totally buy this one. My cookies are usually pitiful and run into one another and make me hate baking.

  9. posted by Anna on

    Best of all: the letters contained in the bull’s-eye targets, which spell out “very tasty very lucky.” I can see this as the title song of a Broadway show, set to raucous and ecstatic music, complete with a chorus line, and a soloist doing a song-and-dance number with a silicone mat as partner, in a bad imitation of Fred Astaire.

  10. posted by Amanda on

    I would totally buy this one. My cookies are a disaster and I need that helper. Thank you!

  11. posted by JC on

    Although I don’t bake often, I do have a lot of cookie/baking related paraphernalia: baking sheets, rolling pin with wooden spools that ensure uniform dough thickness, cutters, silicone mats, scoops. The cutters are the only real unitaskers, though I’ve used them for more than cookies. Another good way to use the mat is for cutout cookies. Roll the dough directly onto the mat, cut the dough and remove the excess then transfer the whole mat to the baking sheet- no more bent or mangled cookies from trying to get the dough to the baking sheet.

  12. posted by Kat on

    I just ordered one! I did so because: a) I liked the design and b) my kids are learning how to bake and this will help them learn to measure cookies. I am viewing it as a “life hack” since I will use it for all sorts of cooking and baking.

  13. posted by Orlando M on

    This is the OPPOSITE of a unitasker!
    This takes a common cooking tool, and adds improvements without changing its basic functionality.

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