Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Non-stick gets all the glory

Parchment paper is definitely a baker's best friend. It is an absolute necessity in any baker's kitchen. The same can be said for non-stick baking pans. Alleluia! However, these inventions tend to over-shine the need for a good old fashioned "grease" & "flour" technique.

Parchment paper is a form of greaseproof paper. It is quite stable and heat-resistant with a thin coating of silicone. It forms a non-stick surface that is perfect for lining baking sheets and cake pans when baking cookies, brownies and cakes. A magnificent invention! I really couldn't live without it. is possible to get carried away. This argument mainly refers to baking cakes, and in particular, butter cakes. The combination of parchment paper and non-stick pans has made us forget the real reason for greasing and flouring.

In addition to creating a non-stick lining within the pan, the "grease & flour" method acts as a ladder. First, the grease, whether it be softened butter or vegetable cooking spray, forms a barrier on which the flour can adhere. The tiny flour particles act as grip or traction for the cake batter to climb up the edges and rise to its full potential. Without this step, cakes will bake short and form a dome shape since the edges set before getting a chance to fully rise while the inside continues to cook.

For even rising when baking cakes, I follow these three steps:
  1. Lightly butter up the pans on all sides
  2. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour into the pan and shake to evenly coat all greased sides while tapping out excess
  3. Line the bottoms of pans with a fitted piece of parchment paper
Say goodbye to cone-head cakes....
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