Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Papering the Cookies

A lot of times you find yourself rediscovering things.  They may be commonplace to many people, but a lot of times that sort of thing is one of those 'out of the loop' situations.

I have been baking cookies for decades at this point.  The recipe I use is predictably good and very flexible.   I use home churned butter when I am giving them as gifts, commercial unsalted butter when I'm in a rush.  Home churned butter, or even farmer's butter will make the flavor pop and add depth to the end result.  I've had some commercial butters taste like candle wax so I'm leery of using it.

I bake the way I was taught when I was a teenager.  We all were to go through home economics in Junior High School where we'd bake all sorts of things.  Always being an exacting and scientific person, even if I do say so myself, baking was better for me than cooking.  Baking is a process where adding just a little extra of an item will make the end results turn out flat or inedible.

A rule of thumb - if you have a new recipe, follow it exactly and take special care if you are baking.  You can always "tweak it" the next time.  I have found that Lemon Meringue Pies are particularly annoying for me so I'm taking a break from that....

On the other hand, being stubborn, I bake the way I was taught.  Grab the cookie sheet, line it with aluminum foil and deal with the mess later.   My cookies would stick to the sheet if they were under done or just a soft recipe, so I learned to make sure they were stone cold before removing them from the foil. 

Yesterday I made a gross of cookies.  144 of the things.  That is a lot of aluminum.   This time though I did something different.   I used Parchment Paper.  Ok, sure, you have heard of it, and perhaps seen it in the baking aisle.  I never really gave it any thought because that wasn't how I was taught. 

One use and I am converted.

There are all sorts of new products from non stick teflon cookie sheets to silicone sheets to make this chore easier.  I can't use Teflon because if I scorch it, it will kill my parrot and Teflon will off-gas "volatiles" if it gets too hot.  In order for me to use the stuff, I have to have the windows open and only use low heat.  It isn't possible for me to bake with it as a result. 

The Parchment paper was cheap enough to try so next time I go to the GFS store, I'll look for the Commercial Sized Rolls.   When I pulled the first batch of cookies out of the oven, they actually moved when I banged the cookie sheet against the wall of the oven.  I was shocked how easy they came up off of the paper.

I'll admit it, I don't know everything, but what I know I share.   Since "Tis The Season" to bake, give it a try, you may be shocked how good it worked for baking.   Just keep it out of the oven if the recipe calls for 425F or more.  Paper will burn at 451F - Remember the book "Farenheit 451"?  After all, the temperature in the oven may not be as accurate as you think it is and there are always hot spots.

Good luck and let me know if you try it!

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