We’re all aware of how important parchment paper is to our baking and oven-roasting.
This heat-resistant, non-stick paper lines our baking trays and cake tins, providing a base that can be easily slid away from the metal housing, reducing burning, sticking and cutting down on the amount of washing up that needs to be done at the end of a lengthy dinner.
But that’s not the end of this unique paper’s versatility. It can also be used to roll dough, the non-stick surface preventing the tacky proto-bread from sticking to the surface. It can also stop food hardening to the metal pan, which will greatly impede its ability to conduct heat.
Parchment paper can also be used to cook poultry, vegetables and cakes or fashioned into storage pouches or used as display sheets.
Considering the list of things parchment paper is capable of, we’re not exactly making a case for replacing it, are we?
Having said that, there are some things that parchment paper is good at, but not great at. When it comes to freezing or cooking, other materials fare slightly better, even if they don’t have the broader range of attributes that parchment paper has.
We’re going to have a look at some of the other options you have for baking and see if they stand up against the mighty parchment as a reliable and effective alternative. However, first off, here’s an in-depth look into parchment paper and what exactly it has to offer.
What Is Parchment Paper?
Parchment paper owes its heat-resistant, water-resistant and non-slip properties to its silicone coating, which is available in a bleached and unbleached variety. It can be used for a diverse range of projects, including covering a workspace when rolling dough, displaying candies and cakes or rolling it up and filling with icing.
But one of its main uses is as an underlay that separates your raw foodstuffs from your oven or muffin tray to avoid it hardening to the pan. It will keep your cookware spick and span, simply throw away the disposable paper, brush the crumbs off your tray and place it back in the drawer.
You can purchase parchment paper either in one continuous roll or in square segments that will avoid jagged tear lines.
However, sometimes you might find yourself in the middle of an elaborate dinner without any parchment paper left and simply have no time to run to the store to buy some more. This is the time when you’ll be forced to find a suitable alternative. Here are some of the options that you might find lying around your kitchen and whether they will be suitable for your culinary requirements.
Parchment Paper Substitutes
Wax paper is similar to parchment paper in that is it non-toxic, non-stick and water-resistant. This is probably the most inexpensive substitute for parchment, usually coming in segmented squares, rather than a continuous roll.
One of the ways in which wax paper is superlative to parchment paper is for display purposes. You can cover the display case of your deli or restaurant and is especially good for wrapping cakes and pastries before you hand them off to customers if you want to add that extra sophistication to the experience.
Wax paper would also be better to line dishes for food served in a restaurant. Due to its non-toxic properties, you won’t have to worry about ingesting it by mistake and having to call the emergency services.
Wax paper can also be reused, so if you are using it to transfer food from one surface to another, you can simply brush off the crumbs and save it for a later date, although you’ll probably only be able to get 2 or 3 uses out of it before it gets too soiled.
One way that wax paper is deficient is during oven baking, as the wax covering will simply melt or even catch fire when put under intense heat and pressure.
We’ve all heard of aluminum foil being used as a baking material, although this will depend on what you’re cooking. It conducts heat, so it makes the perfect lining for metal or ceramic cooking trays, saving you on washing up at the end of a meal.
However, unlike parchment and wax paper, aluminum foil has zero non-stick properties, meaning that you could find small pieces of silver foil stuck to your meat or vegetable dish after cooking.
But unlike parchment paper, aluminum foil’s heat-retaining properties are perfect for wrapping and steaming fish, meat and vegetables, resulting in much faster cooking time. Many recipes for roasted sweet potatoes involve wrapping the potato in foil and placing it in the oven so that it warms right through.
Foil also retains cold temperatures, so you can wrap up any leftovers and put them in the refrigerator to keep overnight.
Silpat Baking Mat
You may not have heard of this particular style of cooking material, as it is a lot more expensive than parchment or aluminum foil – that is a Silpat baking mat.
These mats are manufactured from flexible, heat-resistant silicone and have non-stick and wipe-down attributes. You can keep your baking mat for years if necessary and it will make a reliable backup if you are ever caught short of parchment paper.
On the downside, baking mats cannot be used to steam things or be funneled and used to squeeze out icing. Baking mats also come in one size, so they can’t be adapted like a roll of parchment or aluminum foil can.
Grease And Oil
When all else fails and you find yourself without any disposable or reusable cooking materials at all, you can always opt for the more traditional method of simply slicking your cooking tray with oil or grease.
You can even use a stick of butter to grease your tin, just make sure that every corner of your metal tray is covered, otherwise, you might find yourself chiseling off a particularly stubborn piece of blackened meat or fish at the end of your meal.