To avoid baking issues caused by unevenly spread temperatures in your baking pan or sheet, you have to use parchment paper. This paper helps to regulate the temperature in the pan and defuse hot spots, allowing your cake to bake evenly. But what else can you use if you don’t have parchment paper? Continue reading to know the top 3 must-have substitutes for parchment paper for every baking.
What Is Parchment Paper?
Also referred to as vegetable parchment, a parchment paper is a specially processed cellulose-based composite with additional properties such as non-stick, grease resistance, and humid state resistance. Its greaseproof properties make it the best disposable non-stick paper for baking.
However, you should not confuse parchment paper with wax paper. The latter is simply a paper that has been covered in wax.
Parchment paper is made by running paper pulp through sulfuric acid or zinc chloride. These chemicals help to dissolve or gelatinize the paper partially, forming a sulfurized cross-linked material that is highly dense, stable, grease-resistant, heat-resistant, water resistant, and without loose fibers. The final paper also has low surface energy, which imparts great non-stick and release properties.
In the past, the treated paper was used in legal documents because of its amazing strength. But since parchment paper is made with acid and has a low pH, it’s not suitable for archival documents.
Therefore, you should use acid-free papers for record-keeping tasks. Since the parchment paper is made up of cellulosic fibers, it is fully compostable both at home and in an industrial environment.
Apart from baking, parchment paper has several other industrial applications including textile tubing, furniture lamination, and rubber vulcanization. The outer layer of parchment paper provides the necessary resistance to abrasion, oil, and heat during various industrial processes.
7 Reasons for Using Parchment Paper
If you bake regularly, you need to have a roll of parchment paper in your kitchen or pantry all the time. Here are some of the main reasons why parchment paper is important for baking.
1. Even Baking
Some baking pans are good at spreading heat evenly while others offer hot and cold areas. This inconsistency can result in serious baking problems. But you can easily avoid these problems by using parchment paper for your baking. By placing parchment paper over the baking sheet, you create a thin layer that regulates temperatures, thereby neutralizing the hot spots.
2. Avoid Undesirable Spreading
Some baking sheets have a rugged surface that creates uneven spreading of the dough. To avoid this, you should a parchment paper over the surface of the baking sheet. The paper gives your dough something to cling to, thus creating fuller cookies that don’t overspread. Thicker cookies are softer in the middle.
3. Avoid Sticking
Sometimes your baking sheet will become too hot causing the cookies to stick. But with parchment paper, your cookies will slide right off the sheet. Also if you spread parchment paper over the cake pan, your cakes will flip easily out of the pan without clinging to the bottom.
4. Clean Cutting
To avoid squashed or disordered brownies and bars, you should spread parchment paper over your baking pan. The entire paper can be lifted out of the pan after baking by holding its edges. This gives you clean straight cuts without the obstruction of the pan. That way, you will have perfect brownies with clean edges like the ones you see in adverts.
5. Easy to Clean Sheets and Pans
If you hate the thought of scrubbing your burnt pans and baking sheets, you should line them with parchment paper when baking. This makes cleanup easy and fast because you just throw the dirty parchment paper away and rinse the pan or sheet off with warm water.
When you wrap your dough or meat in parchment paper before baking, you create a steam pocket to help the food cook gently. That way, your meat will have a moist and soft texture. This method of cooking also helps to avoid overcooking.
7. Easy Breathing
Unlike foil and plastic wraps that seal the air out completely, parchment paper allows your food to breathe a little. That way, the exterior crusts will stay crisp, rather than become soggy.
What’s the Difference Between Parchment Paper and Wax Paper?
One of the most common questions about parchment and wax papers is: Can they be used interchangeably? The answer to this question is: sometimes, but not in the oven. So, what’s the difference between the two? Here are the main differences between parchment paper and wax paper.
1. Respective Coatings
While parchment paper is coated with silicone to make it non-stick and heat resistant, was paper is coated with paraffin wax or soybean. This means that wax paper should not be used in the oven because the wax coating will melt. Therefore, wax paper is suitable for wrapping up sandwiches and other types of food for cold storage. It is also good for spreading out food items such as homemade candy and chocolate-coated sweets to cool.
Wax paper is available in rolls like the foil and plastic wraps, but you can also order it in pre-cut squares that are perfect for separating burger patties before freezing. This paper also comes in the format of a sandwich bag.
Parchment paper is ideal for cooking because it can resist temperatures of up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, you can use it to line your cookie sheet and baking pan when baking.
Parchment paper is also good for roasting vegetables and making sheet pan dinners. With parchment paper, you don’t have to grease your pan before cooking. Furthermore, it eliminates the need to scrub your pans and sheets after baking. Parchment paper comes in rolls, pre-cut sheets, and rounds (ideal for lining round pans and folding neat packets).
The way these two types of papers are processed is completely different. For instance, parchment paper is first pressed into a sheet and then dipped into the sulfuric acid. It is then washed and passed through several hot rotating drums to realign the fibers and strengthen the paper.
Wax paper, on the other hand, is taken through a process referred to as supercalendering. Through this process, the paper is compressed to make it transparent.
3 Must-Have Substitutes for Parchment Paper
If for any reason, you can’t find parchment paper for your baking, there are several other alternatives that you can go for. The good thing about some of these substitutes is that they are readily available.
1. Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is a common household item that serves the same purpose as parchment paper. So, you can use it to line up a baking pan or sheet before baking. However, you have to oil your pan or sheet before lining it up with aluminum foil to avoid sticking. It also makes the food cook faster than parchment paper.
2. Greased Pan
If you can’t find parchment paper for your emergency baking, you can just grease your pan or baking sheet. Since the main purpose of lining up your baking pan or sheet with parchment paper is to avoid sticking, you can use your cooking oil or butter to achieve the same goal. But this option is not suitable for people who want to lose weight. Also, this alternative is not ideal for delicate and soppy treats.
3. Silicone Pad
A silicone pad is a perfect alternative to parchment paper because it also eliminates the need to grease your baking pan or sheet before cooking. You just drop it onto your baking sheet and your food will come right off after cooking. Furthermore, one pad can be used a few times before you discard it.
If you love baking but don’t have money to buy parchment paper, you can easily turn to these substitutes for parchment for your everyday baking tasks. The good thing is that most of these alternatives are ordinary household items.