May We Recommend: Parchment Paper
Rachel Ringler bakes her Shabbat challah on parchment paper
Parchment paper is a relatively recent addition to my kitchen supplies. Six years ago, I learned about it from a friend who is a professional cook. But now that I have found it, I can’t imagine my kitchen without it.
Why, I wondered, was I so late to the parchment game?
According to Susan Reid, food editor of King Arthur Flour’s magazine, Sift, “People who worked in restaurants knew about parchment paper forever. Once the amateur cook began looking behind the swinging [restaurant kitchen] doors, they wanted what the professionals had." And the professionals all used parchment paper.
King Arthur Flour, said Reid, began selling parchment paper to the consumer in 1991. It is now, she said, one of the top ten most popular items that this Vermont based purveyor of all things baking-related sells.
What’s to love? First of all, parchment paper is coated in silicone making it both non-stick and heat resistant. Cookies slide off the paper-lined pan, breads do, too. And you can turn roasting vegetables with ease when the sheet pan is lined with the stuff.
You don’t have to throw the paper away after one use: good, heavy parchment paper can be re-used for up to a dozen times and, once you have finished your roasting and baking, clean up is as easy as crumpling the paper and tossing it in the trash.
The first parchment paper I purchased came in rolls and I grew frustrated with the way the paper would spool up on itself and with the fact that the paper never fit exactly within the parameters of my pans.
I now use pre-cut sheets of the paper because they are designed to nestle perfectly within the confines of a flat, metal sheet pan. You can buy flat parchment paper in a wide selection of shapes and sizes – half-sheet, quarter-sheet, round papers to fit into round baking pans.
In addition, you have the choice of the white parchment paper or the unbleached variety. Unbleached parchment paper is free of chlorine, the chemical that turns the paper white. Both types of paper offer the same properties of being non-stick and heat resistant.
Rachel Ringler bakes cookies on parchment paper
While most uses for parchment paper involve lining surfaces, to keep baked and roasted foods from sticking to the cooking surface and to make clean-up easier, don’t stop there. Parchment can also be used as a cooking tool. Fish, roasted “en papillote” is cooked inside a parchment paper packet, sealing in flavor and juices. Cookbook writer Julia Turshen has a to-die-for brisket recipe that calls for scrunching up moistened parchment paper, covering the brisket with it, and cooking away. You can even cut it into triangles and fold it up to use for piping chocolate on cakes. And when presenting home-baked breads as gifts, you can wrap them in parchment paper.
You can find the paper in your local supermarket or on-line. When you try it, you will feel like a professional chef while making your cooking life easier, too.