Bakers have all types of tricks to our trade. You learn the basics from your mom, grandma (or pop) and just thoughtful people who like to teach. Some still use lard. Others use pure butter or a blend of some sort.These are used to coat the baking pan with a dusting of flour. Everyone has their method.
Those of us in the food industry use a piece of kitchen equipment that is a multi tool: Parchment paper. Cue the music: “Alleluia”.
I love parchment paper. Now this might seem like a rather odd subject to post about but trust me, after you read it, you’ll understand why it’s the second most important tool in the kitchen besides your Kitchen Aid mixer. There are so many different ways to use it. The most common in the kitchen is with baking cakes and tea breads. It’s why I call it insurance. Your cakes will never have that annoying divot of missing cake on the bottom when you take it out of the pan. It will be neat, clean and ready to frost, virtually crumb free. Just place your pan on a piece of parchment paper and trace with a sharpie. Can’t find it? It’s in that junk drawer. Then cut just inside the circle. Spray your pan with non stick spray and place the circle on the bottom of the pan.Sometimes if I have enough paper, I’ll cut out a number of circles so they’re ready for the next cake. You can do the same for tea breads or any breads that would normally stick like cinnamon swirl or apple bread. Cut the rectangle circles out to fit the inside of the pan.
Another use is for making a paper cone so you can write on your cake or make drizzle marks on your cake or cupcakes. Just cut out a triangle and fold around to form a cone. I use a small piece of tape to secure it. I’ve been laughed at by fellow pastry chefs for using the tape but it was I who had the last laugh when they had a ganache blow out on the side. Ha!
A third and healthy use is with baking and steaming fish and vegetables. I love this method. Healthy, quick and very little if any cleanup. Cut out a circle about 12 inches. Fold the paper in half and then open it up and lay flat on a cookie sheet.Place your fish and vegetables in the center. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice and add a few herbs (dill is nice with fish). Fold the paper over to make a half-moon and then tuck the seams under to seal. Bake at 350°. Depending on your fish I would haddock is pretty quick so a 6oz piece about 20 minutes. Salmon maybe about 30 to 35. Be careful when you open the bag because there will be quite a bit of steam. You’re going to love this method!! Just another insurance that your fish won’t stick to the paper.
Remember when you were a kid and you made snowflakes with paper?? You folded a circle in half and then in half again and again til you were dizzy. Then you cut shapes and opened it up to make a pretty (or really ugly!) snowflake. That same method can be used to make a stencil for the top of a simple cake. Spray on side of the parchment with non stick spray and lay that side down on the cake. Then dust the top with powdered sugar or cocoa. Carefully lift the paper off and what a beautiful design!!
There are so many ideas. I could go on all night. You can even wrap cookie dough logs in parchment and freeze them. I roll pie dough on this paper, cookie dough, my stained glass cookies and gluten-free pizza doughs…so many things. They will not stick. During the rolling out process you still need to flour the paper but it seriously will not stick.
There are a couple of ways to get parchment. At the grocery store which is the most expensive in my opinion. When I had my bakery, I used to sell it by the sheet to customers. Just go into a local bakery and ask if they have any parchment paper they can sell you. I was more than happy to help my customers. It was a great way to rest assured they would return but most important, if I gave them the right help to make it themselves, that’s a win in my book. What I can teach you, you can pass on to someone else. If we all work together, we can make this a baking nation again. Now I just put the words insurance and nation in the same post. That’s pretty risky. But I guarantee THIS insurance will work for everyone and is very affordable.