To Spray, or Not to Spray
As a baker, there’s a moment many of us have experienced that causes our hearts to sink. We tell ourselves, “I would never forget to do that” when watching baking challenges. And then we do forget to do it. That glorious cake we spent precious time mixing from scratch and baking in that pan we thought was nonstick sticks. Your heart freezes, especially if making a baked good under a deadline, and time is ticking away. Do you flip it over, tap the pan, and hope for the best? Freezing will only make it worse, gluing the dessert to the walls. You say to yourself, if your cake crumbles, cake pops are always a hit, right? An easy way to avoid going down the path to disaster is to grease and line your pans with parchment paper. For rectangular or square trays, it’s straightforward. I have a few tips for lining baking pans to avoid frustration and stress, whether square, round, or even three-dimensional.
Lining Rectangular and Square Pans
While lining baking pans that are square or rectangular can be straightforward, I have a few tips to make your life easier. There are two ways you can arrange your parchment. The first method is to unroll a large piece of parchment paper that will cover the bottom and all sides. Press the paper to sit flat on the base and into each corner. There’s a quick solution if the paper bunches together in the corners. Using a knife, poke a hole in each corner of the base. Remove the paper and create a crease from each hole to the corner of the paper. With a pair of scissors, cut each crease made. Place the paper back into the pan, overlapping the edges, and trim any excess if necessary.
The second way is a great way to use up larger leftover pieces of parchment. Two sections are needed, one for the length of the pan and a second for the width. The pieces will overlap on the bottom of the pan, creating a cross. Once the first piece is placed and smoothed along the bottom and sides, lay the second piece of paper over the first.
The methods above help create smooth edges and prevent bubbles along the creases. The batter may not fully flow into the edges without completely flat seams when using one large piece. That’s especially true if using thicker parchment paper. Cutting corners and pressing into the edges or using two pieces crossed can help create picture-perfect bakes.
Lining Circular Pan Bases
The easiest way to line a circular pan, whether baking in a spring bottom or one solid pan, is to use two pieces of paper. One will line the pan wall, and the second will cover the base. For the pan walls, use rectangles that are an inch wider than as tall as the height of the pan. Depending on the dimensions of your parchment paper and pan size, you may need multiple pieces.
I’ve found that the triangle method works best when cutting a circle for the base. Start with a square at least as large as your pan for the triangle method. Once an even square is cut, fold the paper in half, corner to corner. Next, fold the triangle you created in half corner to corner two more times. For the fourth and final fold, fold the longest side against one of the shorter sides. It should resemble an ice-cream cone with a triangle on top.
Once you have folded the paper four times, place the triangle on the bottom of your pan. Align the tip of the triangle in the center of your pan. Press the triangle flush against the bottom and fold the base up along the side. With a spoon, press the paper into the seam of the pan, creating a curved edge on the paper. Remove the triangle, and cut the edge created. Unfold the paper, and you will have a perfect circle for the base.
Lining Baking Pans That Are Irregular
It’s still possible to use parchment paper when lining baking pans other than squares, rectangles, or circles. It is easier to use non-stick spray, but if you avoid using a spray, you can trace the pattern onto a piece of parchment paper. So long as the base of the pan is flat, that is. Do not use pens, permanent markers, or pencils to avoid toxins potentially contaminating a bake. The only exception is if you have an icing pen or something edible. If you don’t have an edible pen, you can use the tip of a steak knife or even a thick, rounded sewing needle to create a traced edge. Once making a cut line, use a pair of scissors to cut the base shape. The paper will create a barrier from batter reaching the details carved in the pan when it comes to three-dimensional pans.
Spray Pans With Intricate Details
Intricate details make it nearly impossible to line with parchment paper when baking a cake in a three-dimensional pan. The most time-effective way to prevent sticking is to spray a pan with non-stick spray. If you use butter, melt the butter into a small dish and cover the pan using a pastry brush. An additional step to prevent sticking is to lightly sift flour over the pan, further reducing the chance of sticking. Sifting will help avoid clumped flour and create a thin layer even in smaller nooks and details in the pan’s shape.
General Tips and Tricks for Lining Baking Pans
- If your pieces of parchment begin to shift when filling a pan or when placing the sheets, there are two ways to help. The first is to fold the paper over the pan edge and hold it in place with a plastic clip. You can also fold the paper over the pan’s rim and attach a piece of masking tape to the outside. Then, once filled with batter, remove the tape or clip before baking.
- If spraying and lining baking pans with parchment paper for double protection, use a non-stick spray first. Once sprayed, you can then line with parchment paper. The spray will also act as a glue and help the paper stick to the sides while positioning.
- While parchment paper is ideal for baking and covering workspaces, Bakers should not use wax paper in an oven. The wax’s melting temperature is too low and baked goods may absorb the wax. There’s also a risk of the paper burning, not only risking altering the flavor but catching fire.
- Even if a pan claims to be non-stick, I always line with parchment paper. While non-stick pans clean more efficiently, it isn’t guaranteed bakes will not stick