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Solutions to Sticky Situation

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I found this article I am sure many will find as informative as I did...

Solutions to Sticky Situations


One of the biggest problems in baking is getting a cookie (especially a sticky one such as a lace cookie) off a baking sheet or a cake out of a pan all in one piece. Most of us blithely use butter and flour as our all-purpose solution to this problem, but a variety of new products have made this choice more complicated and also more interesting. Sprays, papers and reusable liners are all possibilities, but I wondered which product would work best; so I set out to perform a series of tests. First, a bit about each of the items tested:

Unsalted Butter: the classic choice and the one that carries the most flavor. $2-$3 per pound.

Crisco: hydrogenated vegetable oil, which remains in a solid state at room temperature. It is available in packs of three one-cup sticks which cost about $2.

Baker's Joy: a spray made from soybean oil, propellant, soy lecithin, flour and assorted chemicals. A five-ounce spray can costs $2.

Pam: also a spray made from canola oil, grain alcohol, lecithin and propellant. A six-ounce can costs $2.

Waxed paper: although this is usually used for storage and other kitchen tasks, I wondered if waxed paper had a place in baking, too.

Parchment paper: a silicon-coated paper made specifically for baking, you can purchase parchment paper in rounds for cake pans, in sheets or in rolls.

Super parchment: reusable light brown stick-resistant sheets measuring 13 x17 inches, they can be cut to fit cake pans or sheet pans. One set of sheets costs $8.50.

Teflon bakeware liners: black, non-stick reusable liners available in 9-inch rounds (two for $7), also sold in sheets. These can be cut to fit pans, if desired.

Silpat: the heaviest of the reusable liners, made from a silicon-covered fiber. The manufacturer recommends that it not be cut to fit a pan. A half sheet costs $12.50.

I tried three recipes: butter cookies, lace cookies and a sponge cake. Both cookies were baked on cookie sheets, and I tested each item based on (1) the final shape of the cookies, (2) what the bottoms looked like after baking and (3) how easy it was to take the cookies off the sheet. I also noted any difficulties with cleanup. For the cake, I was particularly interested in how well the bottom baked (was it too dark or too light?), and I judged the degree of difficulty in removing the cake from the pan.

I started with unsalted butter, which has an advantage in the taste department since it imparts flavor to the bottoms of cookies; but beware: butter is useless when baking something really sticky such as lace cookies, and for cakes, the pan also needs to be floured. Also, cleaning up a cookie sheet that has been buttered is difficult at best, requiring plenty of elbow grease.

Crisco performs in much the same manner as butter but has none of the flavor. Forget about it. Baker's Joy should be renamed Baker's Bane, since it sprays in clumps (it contains flour which does not spray evenly) and has a noticeable and unpleasant chemical flavor. It also did not do a good job with the lace cookies.

Pam performs about the same as Baker's Joy and also has a mildly unpleasant aftertaste. However, it does spray on evenly.

Waxed paper was a disaster. Wax melts when exposed to high heat, resulting in cookies that were bonded tightly to the paper. It was even difficult to remove the cake from the waxed paper. (I doubt that this application is recommended by the manufacturer.)

Parchment paper was a clear winner. Even the lace cookies did not stick to the paper (although it had to be discarded and could not be reused) and cleanup was a cinch, since the cookies and cake never actually touched the pan. Super parchment works nicely: note that it is reusable and therefore needs to be cleaned after each use. I found it easier simply to discard regular parchment paper rather than having to clean, dry and store super parchment.

The Telfon product is very dark, which made it difficult to tell when the lace cookies were done. (Dark cookies against a dark paper makes it difficult to tell when the edges are browning, a reliable sign that cookies are properly baked.) I also felt that the bottom of the cake became too brown. However, nothing stuck to it. As with super parchment, cleanup is a problem.

Finally, I tried Silpat, which works in a wide range of temperatures up to 800 degrees. The good news is that nothing sticks to this stuff; the bad news is that you are not supposed to cut the sheets, so it cannot be used in a round cake pan. Silpat, however, was the clear winner for cookie sheets: the bottoms of the cookies came out perfectly and the light color makes it easy to tell when the cookies are done.

So, what to buy?

The reusable liners (Silpat was best) are more troublesome to use, but they are good for extremely sticky baked goods such as lace cookies, caramel or chocolate. Keep in mind that these liners need to be washed and dried after using. Also, some of them are not supposed to be cut, which makes them impossible to use for anything other than cookie sheets.

The sprays are universally awful: they impart an unwelcome aftertaste. Butter or butter and flour for cake pans works well enough and does add a nice touch of flavor, but don't use Crisco - it performs about the same as butter, but it has no flavor. Butter will produce a cookie sheet that is very hard to clean. The winner was regular parchment paper: it is inexpensive, there is no cleanup and it can be cut to fit any size pan. You can also slide off a sheet of baked cookies and slide on a new sheet with fresh dough and pop the pan back in the oven. This makes baking large batches quick and easy.

I have included many sources for those who are interested (I am not affiliated)
Sources for Silpat

Bakeware & Baking Supplies http://www.p4online.com/p4online/bakandbaksup.html

Bridge Kitchenware (imported cookware) http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/bridgeform.html

Confectionery Arts Council http://www.confectioneryarts.com/pastry.html

Creative Cutters http://www.cakeartistry.com/cc/catalogpage17.html

Demarle http://www.cookswares.com/demarle.htm#mats

JB Prince http://www.jbprince.com/tradepoint/a....asp#Directory

Jacquestorres http://www.jacquestorres.com/equipme...pmentsales.htm

Kitchen-Classics http://www.kitchen-classics.com

LaCuisine http://www.lacuisineus.com/newslette...ar_demand.html

Martha By Mail http://www.marthabymail.com/mbm/prod...AKH2JD993RB5A4

P4 Online http://www.tastetheworld.com/p4online/silnonsticba.html

Williams-Sonoma http://www.williams-sonoma.com/cat/p...rc=sch1nsilpat

The Coolest Latex Molds (MUST SEE) http://creativeculinarytools.com/latexmolds.htm
The Coolest Chocolate Design (MUST SEE) http://creativeculinarytools.com/photoshop.htm

Source for Flexipans http://www.e-chefs.net/flexipan.htm http://www.cookswares.com/demarle.htm http://www.confectioneryarts.com/pastry.html

Source for Microplanes http://www.e-chefs.net/rasp.htm http://www.microplane.com/search/ssearch.html
post #2 of 3
Thanks for all the info on products we as professionals are faced with everyday. Who has the time or money to test everything? This article is a great help!
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
If you liked this article, you can find more from www.cooksillustrated.com. This article was from the founder/editor of Cook's Illustrated and their magazine and books include thousands of hours worth of this kind of product/recipe testing in their test kitchen for the consumer. There is no advertising in their magazine.
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