Using Parchment Baking Paper in the Kitchen
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
My mother wants you to know that parchment baking paper is an amazing kitchen tool. She discovered it later in life and feels everyone should know about it, so in case you don’t, I’m gonna fill you in, my friends! (Hi, Mom!)
About Parchment Paper
It seems a little counterintuitive to put paper in your oven; however, parchment baking paper is made specifically for oven use. It prevents food from sticking to the surface of your pans and makes cleanup a breeze. This is the one I use; I choose it for several reasons: 1) because it’s unbleached, making it chlorine-free; 2) because it’s compostable in my home compost bin; 3) because I believe the company tries to be ecologically responsible, and 4) it fits my sheet pans so nicely!
Why use parchment paper? Imagine you are roasting diced potatoes on a sheet pan. They stick to the pan, which wastes the yummy crispy part of the roasted potato and makes cleaning up the pan a nightmare. With parchment paper, the taters don’t stick; they slide right off the pan into your serving dish or onto the plate. Or imagine you are baking some fudgy paleo brownies--notorious for sticking, but with parchment, you can actually just lift the whole thing out of the pan before you cut it; then the paper comes right off! Parchment also protects your food from coming into contact with questionable pans, such as aluminum or coated pans.
To use parchment on a sheet pan, simply unroll the parchment an inch or two longer than your pan, tear or cut, and press it down along the edges and corners to fit. I like to run my fingernail along the edge to crease it into the sides of the pan.
Rectangular or Square Baking Pans
The sides are higher on a baking pan. You can use the parchment one of two ways. The first way is to do the same thing you do with a sheet pan; you will have to fold the corners flat along one edge (similar to wrapping a present, but in reverse).
The second way is to use two criss-crossing pieces of parchment. First cut a sheet of parchment the length of your pan, making sure a half inch or inch of parchment will stick up out of the pan on each end. Then trim to fit exactly inside the bottom of the pan. The next step is to fit a piece of parchment in the other direction as well. With square pans, if the food is all in one piece (such as a cake or brownies), you can grab the parchment “handles” to lift the food out of the pan.
Use two strips of parchment to line the pan as described above. After the loaf has cooled, simply use the parchment strips to lift it out of the pan, then remove the parchment.
Round Baking Pans
Trace your pan on a piece of parchment and cut out the circle just inside your traced line, then place in the bottom of the pan. Grease the sides of the pan as you normally would. (I suppose you could cut a strip of parchment the length of the circle’s circumference and stand it up along the sides of the pan if you were cooking something particularly sticky, but I’ve never found that necessary!)
Cut a five-inch square of parchment for a regular-sized muffin or a six-inch square for a jumbo muffin. (Experiment with one before you cut all twelve!) Wrap the square around the bottom of a small glass or jar that will fit inside the muffin tin to shape it, then place inside the muffin tin and fill as usual with the muffin batter. Your muffins will look like they came from a fancy bakery! Or, you can buy pre-made muffin tin liners made of parchment if you prefer.
Notes on Parchment
DO NOT put parchment under the broiler. If it gets too close to the broiler it can catch fire. (Don’t ask me how I know this. There certainly never was a flaming meatballs incident at my house. Ahem.)
Parchment is safe up until about 430 degrees. Check your parchment package to be sure.
With baked goods, let them cool before removing the item from the pan. The exception is that if it’s anything super sticky, it will likely get stickier as it cools so that should come off the parchment sooner rather than later.
If you’re making batches of something, such as cookies, you can reuse the parchment; no need to pull a new sheet for each batch.
When you are lining a pan with parchment, if the paper keeps sliding around the pan and it’s bugging you, just use a little bit of your fat of choice (coconut oil, butter, ghee, bacon fat, etc) to stick it down.
Parchment paper also comes in individual sheets rather than rolls. This can be great if it fits your sheet pans—no measuring necessary!
Did you know that you can even purchase parchment roasting bags instead of plastic ones?
Parchment snack and sandwich bags are available to use rather than plastic zipper bags; since they’re compostable, you can feel better knowing you aren’t adding to our world’s plastic waste.
Now that you’re an expert on using parchment paper for cooking and baking, here are some recipes to try!
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