It is also used in cake decorations, pastry decorations and as a wrapper for cookies. However, many people have trouble finding parchment paper in their local grocery markets. In such cases, you may have to look out for other available substitutes. Before we explore these options, let us understand what are the properties of parchment paper that make it special.
What is Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is defined as a very high density paper that is coated with a nonstick silicon coating. Parchment paper undergoes a rigorous manufacturing process which gives it its specialized properties. Firstly, paper is compressed into sheets. These sheets are then dipped into acid bath and washed again. Next, these sheets are allowed to pass over a series of hot rotating drums.
These drums realign the fibers of the parchment paper, rendering it a remarkable strength. Parchment paper can withstand temperatures up to 420º F, which makes it safe to be used in an oven. The silicon coating of parchment paper prevents it from sticking to the food, thus it does not interfere with the flavor of the food.
Parchment Paper Substitutes
This is a good substitute for parchment paper for baking, as it was originally used for baking cookies, before parchment paper came into use. Slightly grease the cooking pan or baking mold with butter, cooking spray or any shortening of your choice. Sprinkle some flour on it and roll the pan until the flour clings to the grease. The cookies tend to spread when you bake them using this method.
Silicon mats can be safely used in an oven at very high temperatures. They are in fact, better than parchment paper, when it comes to withstanding heat. Moreover, they are reusable, hence offer added advantage over parchment paper. The only flip side to using silicon mats is that they are very expensive.
Wax paper is greatly substituted for parchment paper, often at wrong places. Wax paper should not be used for baking purposes because it cannot withstand high temperatures. It has a very low melting point, thus the wax easily mixes with the food. Moreover, it also smokes and burns easily. Another problem with wax paper is that it is not as nonstick as parchment paper.
Quick release kind of aluminum foil can be used in place of parchment paper for baking crisp foods. Aluminum foil is coated with silicon, hence it can also tolerate high temperatures.
Grocery Bags/ Regular Paper
One must never use notebook paper or grocery bags as parchment paper substitutes unless you only intend to use them as food wrappers during storage. They get easily ignited at very low temperatures. Moreover, the ink used in them can be toxic if it comes in contact with food.