Whether you are a seasoned baker or just beginning to dabble in the dark arts of confection making, parchment paper is about to be your secret weapon in efficient, mess-free kitchen adventures.
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Parchment Paper: An Overview
Parchment paper is a non-stick, disposable, and most importantly, ovenproof paper, sold at most grocery stores and specialty baking stores. It is usually sold on a roll, like silver foil, but sometimes can be found in pre-cut squares or circles.
Parchment paper is commonly used for baking due to its versatile characteristics and importantly, the ability to put it in the oven. It can be used to line cake pans, cookie sheets, and containers. It can be used when storing cookies, cake, or sweets, placed between layers, to keep them from sticking together.
Parchment paper is also great for wrapping dough before placing it in the fridge or freezer. For something that seems so simple and mundane, it packs quite the punch!
If you are new to this parchment paper a question might come to your head. Can Parchment paper go in the oven? Of course, it can go in oven it’s primarily made for baking. As stated above, it is important to note that parchment paper is ovenproof and perfectly safe to cook or bake with. This is not the same thing as wax paper which is also sometimes found in the kitchen but is not meant to be placed in the oven. Its coating is not heatproof and will melt.
Before we delve into the exciting ways to use parchment paper, I must warn you that once you learn these secrets, your experience in the kitchen will be changed forever for the better. You will be baking more efficiently and spending a lot less time cleaning baking trays, counters, and food containers. Read on for these life-changing tricks and tips.
My Top Uses for Parchment Paper
When baking in my own kitchen I always use parchment paper for the following things, and it makes my life so much easier! Let me tell you, how I use parchment paper for baking, cooking and other things.
- Baking chocolate chip cookies (or any cookies for that matter): Whenever I bake cookies, I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper before baking. The paper is non-stick so I don’t need to use baking spray or butter. When the cookies come out of the oven, I place the paper with the cookies still on it, on a cooling rack for a few minutes, and then slide them right off! There is never an issue with my cookies sticking to the tray or breaking after they cool.
Another great benefit of using parchment paper when baking cookies is that it allows me to work on the next tray of cookies while the first is still baking! I just cut another sheet of parchment paper, place it flat on the counter, and prepare the cookies to go on the tray as soon as the first tray comes out.
When the first parchment paper of cookies goes on the cooling rack, the new sheet from the counter goes on the tray and straight in the oven. This is especially helpful when preparing for a crowd- birthday parties, bridal showers, my fiance, etc. Efficiency for the win!
- Baking layer cakes and brownies: When baking a cake, most often a layer cake, brownies, or a loaf cake, one of my biggest struggles is getting the thing out of the pan in one piece! After some experimenting, I learned the correct temperature the cakes need to cool to in order to get a clean transfer.
However, another amazing tool is… you guessed it! Parchment paper! In order to get a clean transfer every time, line the bottom of your cake pan with parchment paper. To do this, trace the pan you are using on the parchment paper with a pen and cut the paper to the correct size and shape to cover only the bottom of the pan.
Spray the pan and place the parchment paper flat over the sprayed bottom. Pour the cake batter over the paper and place the cake in the oven. Once baked, allow the cake to cool on a rack for 15 minutes, take a thin knife or flat metal spatula and trace the edges of the cake, and then gently flip the cake out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, peel the parchment paper off and decorate your cake as you wish!
- Refrigerating cookie dough: Very often, cookie dough needs to be chilled before it can be formed into cookies and baked. This is a critical step and allows the dough to set so that it is easier to work with. Parchment paper is non-stick which makes it perfect to wrap your cookie dough in before placing it in the fridge or freezer. When you are ready to work with your dough, you don’t need to worry about peeling it out of plastic. The paper will come right off. You can even reuse it in rolling out your cookie dough- see below.
- Roll out cookie dough: I have this amazing sugar cookie recipe. It’s my great-grandmother’s recipe and since she passed away, it is the only sugar cookie recipe I will use. Unfortunately, rolling out cookie dough is not one of my strong suits. I roll it too thick. I roll it too thin. I get those little bubbles and the dough wears out in places. The absolute worst, however, is when the dough sticks to my counter and my rolling pin. In walks parchment paper. I cut two pieces and place the dough in between and roll. Viola, no sticking, an even roll, and I am ready to cut out my cookies!
- Make muffin tin liners: We all know that feeling. It’s a lazy Saturday morning and I have all of the ingredients for my favorite muffin recipe. I get to work making the batter. I add milk, eggs, butter, flour, sugar. I mix it. I take out my muffin tins, ready to fill them when my heart sinks. I just realized I am out of an essential muffin accessory- muffin tin liners! I think hard and look around the kitchen when it hits me! Once again, it’s parchment paper to the rescue! I take out the roll and cut 24 squares, each approximately 5 inches. I place each square in a muffin tin and push the bottom in with my fist, allowing the paper to fold on the sides to fit. Once lined, I fill my muffin liners with batter and place them in the oven. Now all I have to do is wait. A delicious, no-mess treat will be ready in 20 minutes.
- Cake/cupcake/cookie decorating: Due to its non-stick nature, parchment paper is perfect for making edible, sugar decorations. Lay a sheet of parchment paper flat on the counter or on a flat baking sheet. Then pipe your design onto the paper and let it harden. Once hard, carefully peel off the paper and you have a hard sugar decoration that can be used to decorate any baked goods- cakes, cupcakes, or cookies!
Since this sounds hard to visualize, I will give you an example. It’s Valentine’s Day and I am scrambling trying to think of the perfect dessert for the dinner I cooked my fiance. I want to make something romantic. It comes to me! I will make chocolate cupcakes with a red velvet heart center, covered in white icing and pink and red sugar hearts. I got started right away and very shortly, the cupcakes were in the oven.
While they were baking, I made some royal icing in white, red, and pink. I filled piping bags with the red and the pink icing. I cut a piece of parchment paper and placed it flat on the counter. Then, I began to pipe small hearts on the paper with the icing. I left those aside to harden while I placed the cupcakes on cooling racks.
Once the cupcakes were cool enough to decorate, I covered each with white icing. I gently removed the hearts I made earlier from the parchment paper. They were hardened by now. I placed one pink and one red heart on the center of each cupcake. Perfect!
- Storing your baked goods: Once all the work of baking is done, you want to be sure you store your sweets properly. I hate waste and I love fresh cookies so proper storage is important to me! Living in the city, with storage tight overall, not all of my containers are the perfect shape and size. I often have to make things work which means I find myself layering cakes and cookies in rows in some of my deeper containers. I use parchment paper in between the layers to prevent breakage and to keep the layers clean and separate. Parchment paper is thin and bends easily around cakes and cookies so that they don’t lose their shape. Once in containers, your baked goods can be frozen with the parchment paper between the layers.
- Cooking: Psych! The last thing on this list is not even baking. Because parchment paper is so incredible, its uses are not limited to baking! Read on for more tips on using this miracle paper in ways other than baking.
As you can see, parchment paper can be used throughout all steps of the baking process: refrigerating dough before you roll it out, rolling out the dough, the baking process for both cakes and cookies, and even storage once baked.
However, parchment paper is not only for baking. I told you at the beginning that parchment paper will become your secret kitchen weapon and that is because you can do so much more than just baking with it! You can cook with it, or use it in other ways in the kitchen!
Parchment paper in cooking: Parchment paper’s use is not limited only to baking. Parchment paper is often used in cooking as well. Using parchment paper to line pans when cooking greatly limits the mess, and thereby, the difficult cleaning process. Parchment paper can be used to line dishes of chicken, meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Then, once the food is cooked, the paper can be wrapped up and thrown away, along with all of the mess! Say goodbye to scraping burnt seasoning and fats from the bottoms of your oven trays.
Steaming with Parchment paper: Parchment paper can also be used for a delicious and healthy cooking method- steaming! Being non-stick and non-absorbent, when chicken or fish is placed in a parchment paper pouch in the oven, the parchment paper traps the heat and the steam and the protein is cooked into a fall apart, buttery texture. This method can be used for steaming vegetables as well. Just be careful when unwrapping the hot food as the trapped steam will be looking for a way to escape.
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Other kitchen uses for parchment paper
Aside from making baking and cooking easier, parchment paper can be used to limit kitchen mess and make cleaning up after cooking or baking a breeze!
One tip is to place a sheet of parchment paper over your counter, covering your work area. This will catch any drips or “oopsies” and once done working in that area, you just wrap up the paper and throw away the mess!
Poured out too much flour? Another great tip is using parchment paper to create a make-shift funnel by wrapping it into a cone. Then, all you have to do is pour the flour through the cone for mess-free clean-up!
When I use parchment paper
In case you haven’t realized yet, I love parchment paper and find it to be one of the most useful kitchen tools. While I love the benefits of baking with parchment paper, I don’t bake every day. I do however cook every day and there are some dishes I won’t make without parchment paper. For example, I won’t cook chicken, vegetables, or potatoes without it!
My favorite food to cook on parchment paper is one-tray chicken and potatoes. First, I cut the parchment paper to fit my oven tin. Then I place seasoned potato wedges in a layer covering the bottom of the pan. Finally, I layer the chicken (seasoned as well) over the potatoes.
When baked like this, the fats and juices from the chicken drip over the potatoes, infusing them with a unique and delicious flavor. But the best part of this dish is not the delicious dinner I just put together in one pan. The best part of this dish is that once it is done in the oven, I don’t have any dirty trays to clean! I just wrap up the paper and throw it in the trash. Delicious!
As you can see, there are many convenient and useful ways parchment paper can make your life easier. Whether you are baking for your family on a weekend, or baking for the church bake sale, you will find yourself reaching for parchment paper every time. Even a task as mundane as cooking dinner can be made more efficient by using parchment paper to line your oven tray.
Take my words to heart. Parchment paper is the greatest kitchen invention since sliced bread. Go forth and bake cleanly, efficiently, and paper your kitchen. You can thank me later.
All of the information in this article comes from my own personal experience in the kitchen, working with parchment paper. There may be other ways to use parchment paper that I did not list, or you may use it differently. These are just methods I have used and know.
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