|Pan Liners and Baking Mats
Liners for baking pans have been around for a long time.
Is there a kitchen in the country that doesn’t have a box of Cut-Rite Wax
Paper? The stuff has been on the market for 75 years. It works as long
as it is not exposed directly to heat. Aluminum foil came on the market in
1947. Still widely used as a cover, it has also morphed into throwaway
pans and containers used by home cooks and caterers. There are some
new products used in commercial kitchens and pastry labs, that have found
their way into home kitchens as replacements for wax paper and aluminum foil
and as advancements in food preparation.
The first of these is parchment paper, a non-stick,
heavy tissue-like paper that is coated—usually with silicone—to withstand
direct heat (goodbye wax paper). This stuff comes in rolls and in sheets
precut to fit standard commercial sheet pans and half-sheet pans. It
is used for pastry, to roll dough on, to line pie pans, cake pans and sticky
bun pans where it greatly facilitates removal of product and pan clean up.
In the savory kitchen, parchment paper is used to prevent the build-up of
grease and charred encrustations on sheet pans when used to roast veggies,
bake cakes, focaccia and the like. Chef Laura Bell insisted that we line sheet
pans with parchment paper whenever possible to simplify cleanup. Parchment
paper is also used to reduce the work area of braising liquids. While
glazing carrots, for example, simply cut a circle of parchment paper to fit
the inside of the pot. Butter, stock and carrots are then brought to
simmer and the parchment paper is pushed down directly on top of the carrots.
In effect, making a small covered pot out of a big covered pot. It
is also essential for en papillote recipes, where veggies and/or fish
are baked in paper. For all, parchment paper is useful and cheap. A
roll costs about $2.75. I can’t do without it. It’s available in all
kitchen supply stores.
Baking mats are of two types. Silicone coated
and Teflon coated. By far the most widely used are the silicone coated mats,
which come in many sizes and are priced from between $25 and $40 depending
on size. Nothing sticks to these mats. They are made of woven
fiberglass coated with silicone or laminated rubberized silicone. There
are many manufacturers of these type mats, Exopat and Fiberlux, to name two.
They can withstand temperatures from –40F to 580F and can be used thousands
of times as baking mats, freezing mats, or non-stick surfaces to work bread
and pastry doughs. Since they are rather heavy, about the thickness
of eight sheets of paper, these mats lay flat and can be worked upon without
them moving about or buckling. Indeed, cookies and other firm dough
products can be baked directly on these mats with only an oven rack supporting
them. It should be noted that at least one manufacturer (Matfer/Exopat)
advises against cutting them due to their fibrous construction. The
same material has been used to create molds for pastries and baked goods.
Just pour in the dough, bake, and flex-pop the product out of the “Elastomold.”
Super Parchment is another baking mat. Specifically,
it’s a “Teflon-coated bakeware liner” only about as thick as a single sheet
of paper—more like parchment paper than the heavier silicone mats—hence the
name. They are light, durable and cheap, about $6.00 each. Also,
they can be cut and trimmed to fit any cookie sheet or pie pan. While
not suitable as a work surface, I much prefer their flexibility and ease
in handling as sheet pan liners for baking cookies where I keep four pans
going, each with a Super Parchment liner. They appear no worse for wear,
after about three years of use. If you bake a lot at home, Super
Parchment is super.
Baking Mats are available in most kitchen supply stores.
For other sources on the Internet, just search for “baking mats” or “super
parchment” at google.com.