What’s So Great About Parchment Paper Anyway?

Parchment paper is something that I have started using consistently every time I bake since the very first time I tried it several years ago. I haven’t looked back! It is something I wanted to dive deeper to find out more about it and how it is created. It is so different than anything else out there and is water, heat, and grease-resistant and can be baked at temperatures up to 450 degrees before deteriorating. Not only does parchment paper make cookies bake more evenly and of course make it so they don’t stick to the pan at all, it also helps prevent cookies from cracking or breaking when lifting them off the pan. How don they do it? I think it is such a neat invention for the kitchen.

One of my favorite things I learned about parchment paper is that it can totally be reused again and again. I use it all the time under simple things like garlic bread or cinnamon/sugar toast and it practically looks brand new after simple uses like this. I have never liked the thought of throwing this paper out after each use and I learned that as long as it doesn’t get  lot of heavy grease on it, you can simply wipe off any crumbs after each use, store it and use it again and again basically until it crumbles and starts to disintegrate. 

So what is parchment paper?

Wikipedia describes it as “a cellulose-based composite that has been processed to give it additional properties like non-stickiness, grease resistance, and resistance to humidity. It is commonly used in baking as a disposable non-stick, grease resistant surface.”

How is parchment paper made?

The process of making parchment paper is actually very similar to the way tracing paper is made. Once again according to Wikipedia, It is “made by running sheets of paper pulp through a bath of sulfuric acid. This process partially dissolves or gelatinizes the paper. The treatment forms a sulfurized material, with high density, stability, heat resistance, grease resistance, water resistance,and no loose fibers. The treated paper has an appearance similar to that of parchment.” 

Is it the same thing as wax paper?

People might confuse these two types of baking paper, but they are very different from each other. Wax paper is coated on both sides of the paper with, you guessed it—wax—usually paraffin wax. Wax paper is water resistant, but it is not heat resistant, so do not use in the oven or it will melt and possibly ignite. Wax paper can be good for placing finished baked goods on, or using to cover counter space but definitely not for baking.

Is parchment paper only used for baking?

Parchment paper isn’t only for baking. It is often used to cook en papillote, which is a technique where food is steamed or cooked within a closed pouch, made with folded parchment paper. 

Do you have any other tips and tricks for parchment paper? Do you use it for all your baked good recipes? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

  •   www.flickr.com
  •   www.kingarthurbaking.com
  •   www.commons.wikipedia.org
  •   www.wikipedia.org
  •   www.marthastewart.com

    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
    Email the author! mary@dvo.com

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