I swear that Teflon has made me stupid. For years, no decades, I’ve used Teflon-coated loaf pans for meatloaf, pâtés, gelatine-based wobbly creations in bright fruit flavours and colours, and more recently, bread. Anything that I cooked or prepared in those pans slid right out without a whimper. Nothing stuck. Baking was a laugh. Then I one afternoon while browsing in my favourite cookery shop in Horsham, my eye was held by a bright, shiny Silverwood loaf pan. I cautiously touched this object that possessed no chemical-quick-release coating whatsoever. Just pure, unadulterated shimmering silver aluminium. Light-weight. Feather-weight. Really. The base corners were gently curved rather than the four ‘folded’ squared-off corners of my Teflon pans. I pondered whether meatloaf or bread would stick fast as if I’d greased the surface with super-glue, and as I stared into the pan’s silvery glow, the shop assistant appeared at my side.
“That pan will out live you,” he said. Pillock, I though, assuming it a comment about my age rather than the durability of the pan. “My mother,” he continued, “gave me her old Silverwood pans when we moved her into a supervised care home.” I was liking this guy less and less. “Just remember never to grease aluminium with olive oil because everything will stick to it from then on,” he said with a degree of convincing authority. He was actually quoting the instructions right off the pan’s label, so I warmed slightly to this guy, knowing he could read. “I’ll take it,” I said, and that was the end of my conversation with him. I took my new treasure home with high hopes.
And sure enough, everything that I put into it stuck fast like chewing gum in a toddler’s hair. I finally tried peanut oil (imagine buying special oil just for greasing a pan!), which the nice lady at Silverwood suggested, and that didn’t help either. Meatloaf had to be chiselled out of the pan with a flexible palette knife and a fish turner. It did come out — in chunks, in crumbled bits, and me in tears. I kept asking myself what women did with these flipping pans before Teflon.
So I asked one of my friends on Twitter, a fellow baker, and he suggested that I use a coating of cheap margarine and then give it a dusting of flour.
After decades of using Teflon, I’d forgotten the basics: fat then flour, rotate the flour around the pan, and then dump out the excess. And just like that, my next loaf of bread baked perfectly and slid right into my hand when I tipped the loaf out of the pan. No chiselling required. No tears.
Not sure what I’ll do about meatloaf though. Teflon, maybe …