If you want to set your baking off on the right foot, you need more than the perfect ingredients. It’s also important to choose the right baking papers to cook with.
Parchment papers and butter paper are two of the most common choices to line a baking pan with, so how can you choose the right one, and will your choice affect the quality of your cake? Let’s find out.
What Is Parchment Paper?
So, what exactly is parchment paper? Parchment paper, sometimes called vegetable parchment, is a type of cooking paper that can be used when baking in the oven.
Parchment paper has been processed to give a selection of admirable cooking qualities, including a non stick properties to prevent sticking, a heat resistant surface to withstand heat, and a grease proof coating.
Parchment paper is oven safe and great for lining baking pans, a baking sheet, or a cake pan.
Parchment paper is also extremely versatile, and it can be used to cover your countertop, wrap baked goods, line your cake molds or a baking sheet, and more.
Parchment paper isn’t just good for baked goods like baking cookies.
Parchment paper can also be used to line a baking sheet, baking pan, or cake pan if you’re cooking meat or roasted vegetables.
Whatever you’re cooking, parchment paper can use its nonstick coating and grease proof properties to preserve your cake pans, make the clean-up easier, and capture additional fat when baking in the oven.
What Is Butter Paper?
Butter paper, sometimes called sandwich paper or waxed paper, is a little different to parchment paper.
Butter paper doesn’t have a non stick surface, so it’s usually not used for baking in the oven. This cellulose-based paper works better when it’s not used for baking purposes.
Instead, you can use butter paper to protect your chopping board when preparing meat, or you can use it for wrapping food that’s moist or fatty.
Butter paper, sometimes called wax paper, isn’t a great substitute for parchment paper. As the name suggests, this paper has been coated with a layer of paraffin wax.
So, while it’s non stick, it’s definitely not heat resistant. Butter paper is known to melt (even when exposed to low heat), so for safety reasons, it shouldn’t go in the oven.
Not only can the paper melt, but it can also catch fire in the oven. So, if you’re looking for a quality paper to line baking sheets or a sheet pan with, you’re better off choosing parchment paper.
How To Use Butter Paper
The good news is that your butter paper isn’t completely useless. Although it can’t be used for baking, butter paper, and other wax papers are excellent for food storage.
However, because wax paper isn’t heat resistant, it shouldn’t be exposed to extremely hot food, so avoid wrapping anything that’s just come straight out of the oven.
We’d recommend storing cold foods in wax paper. You can even use it for freezing to prevent your food from sticking together!
Parchment Paper VS Butter Paper: En Papillote
Thinking of cooking en papillote?
For those that don’t know, cooking en papillote (which literally means ‘in parchment’) is a French cooking method that involves cooking meat (either chicken or fish) and vegetables in a folded pouch or parcel and then baking it.
The idea is that the paper captures the liquid and aromatics, so when they’re steam together in baking papers, they capture all the extra moisture and flavor that would otherwise be lost.
As you’ve probably guessed, wax paper CANNOT be used for cooking en papillote. Ideally, you should be using parchment paper in your sheet pan or cake pans to cook your meat and steam it.
Using anything that isn’t heat resistant in an oven is always a bad idea, and it won’t do your oven (or your food) any real favors.
Alternatives To Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is an excellent choice to line baking sheets or a sheet pan, but it’s not for everyone.
If you’re looking for another non stick, heat resistant paper that ISN’T a fire hazard in the oven, here are a few alternatives to parchment paper you can use when baking.
Silicone Baking Mat
Unsurprisingly, our top choice is a silicone baking mat, sometimes called a silpat. These mats come with a silicone coating, they’re non stick, and are an excellent alternative to line pans with.
These oven safe mats withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit in the microwave or the oven, making them a reliable (and reusable!) alternative to parchment paper.
Greased Baking Sheet
Another great alternative for parchment paper is a greased baking sheet. Like a silicone baking mat, your greased baking sheets can handle temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unless you’re using notoriously sticky ingredients, a greased baking sheet will work just as well as parchment paper.
Simply rub your baking sheet down with plenty of butter or oil, and get cooking!
If you’re looking for a cheap, quick, and reliable alternative to parchment paper, don’t underestimate aluminum foil.
Aluminum foil can also withstand temperatures of over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit – pretty impressive, right!? Lining baking sheets with aluminum foil is simple, and you won’t need to add any extra grease.
However, cooking with aluminum foil can be hit or miss.
Some baked goods (especially cookies) can turn out a little darker than they would with traditional parchment, and aluminum foil isn’t entirely non stick, so some foods may stick to your sheet pan.
Butter paper and parchment paper may look the same, but these papers actually serve completely different purposes.
If you’re looking for a new bakery paper to cook with, we’d never recommend butter paper.
Unfortunately, its wax coating, lack of nonstick properties, and its inability to withstand heat make it unsuitable for oven baking.
Parchment paper is always better for baked goods, so if you have any butter paper to hand, use it for food storage or as a chopping board cover only!