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Friday 13 January 2012

Baking bits: all kinds of liner

Around Christmas time some of the Domestic Sluts were chatting on Twitter (ok, the others were chatting and I butted in) about the difference between and the relative merits of greaseproof paper versus parchment. On the supermarket shelf, there are lots of options and not much advice on which product to choose for baking. Different recipes have varying requirements but even modern non-stick cookware sometimes needs a little help with lining or greasing, or both. Here's a quick guide.

Greaseproof paper. To my mind, you only need this in your house if you've got someone who's studying Geography and needs to trace maps. Yes, it's often the cheapest option, but as usual there's a reason for that. It's not non-stick, it merely doesn't fall apart or rip when it comes into contact with greasy cake batter. You need to grease it thoroughly with oil or butter. Bit of a faff, frankly. Also not fabulously heat-resistant. So it can burn. Trust me on this.

Baking paper or parchment. Or as my baker dad used to call this, silicon paper. Modern baking parchment (in the photo) is treated with chemicals to make it easy-release and it also withstands heat well. It can be reused too, as it is reasonably tear resistant and unlike greaseproof, any fat that comes out during cooking, particularly with cookies, won't soak into the paper.  Store sheets in an airtight Ziplock bag between baking sessions.  I also prefer the way it looks if you're wrapping up a cake to give as a gift. This is always in our cupboard.

Tinfoil or aluminium foil. It's got excellent insulation properties and can help to stop transference of flavours (cover your cheesecake with foil while it's chilling in the fridge to stop it acquiring a garlicky aroma, for example). It's not a great idea for lining pans or cooking anything that could have a propensity to stick because picking little flecks of foil off the bottom of biscuits, or getting foil in your fillings, really isn't any fun at all.

Parchment-lined foil. If you're short on space in your cupboards, I spotted this at Lakeland, £4.29 - it's foil on one side, and parchment on the other which is quite genius.

Cake liners: If you make a lot of loaf cakes, which I do, then cake liners are your friend. Available widely - I've found them at John Lewis, Asda and the local pound shop - and in either loaf tin or sandwich tin shapes, simply pop one of these into your metal tin and pour the mixture into it. Voila, it comes out with no trouble at all, and it's very useful if you're transporting the cake anywhere.

Silicon mats - I've had a Teflon Nonstick Cooking mat for years, £3.50. It can be thrown in the dishwasher or handwashed, and if you bake very frequently it can be a good alternative to shelling out on disposable liners. If I'm making large quantities of biscuits or florentines, I can run out of baking trays but this mat turns a non-stick baking sheet into a usable one. If baking sheets are coming to the end of their lives and have dodgy spots, a mat is brilliant to extend their usefulness a bit longer.

Vegetable oil spray - a spritz of sunflower oil spray on any type of paper gives you the extra reassurance that you'll be able to extract the cake gracefully when it's cooked, and it's also a quick way to coat metal tins effectively. I've also tried various "cake release" products but as one of them left a large lump of my Christmas gingerbread welded into a bundt cake mould, I'd say to skip those.

Cupcake cases - you can get these in all kinds of pretty patterns but if the paper quality isn't good, you may lose the pattern as the fat soaks into the liner during baking and makes it translucent. Either buy the heavy duty Swedish ones, save money with the good old white paper ones, or go for the coloured foil ones.

Experiment with what works for you and your bakeware, but if in any doubt - lining paper plus greasing the tin is the belt and braces approach that should always see you right!

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant - I've always wondered about parchment vs greaseproof, and mow I know! Thank you :)


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