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Parchment Paper vs. Silicone Baking Mats

You’ve in all probability used to seeing cookie recipes that decision for lining your half-sheet trays with parchment paper, so what provides with the rise in reputation of silicone baking mats over the previous couple of years? Are these two nonstick surfaces interchangeable in recipes? And, are they equally good at baking cookies, or cooling thick caramel, or releasing delicate macaron shells? Or a litany of different widespread baking and cooking duties?

Let’s get into it. 

What Is Parchment Paper?


Amazon


Also called baking paper, parchment paper is just paper that has been handled with both silicone or Quilon (a chemical made up largely of isopropanol) to render it nonstick and heat-resistant. Silicone-treated parchment is barely dearer to supply, but in addition extra widespread in grocery shops. Not like Quilon-treated parchment, you may reuse silicone-treated parchment a number of occasions, and there appears to be some disagreement about Quilon’s well being security for baking purposes. 

Critical Eats / Debbie Wee


Parchment paper is mostly offered in shops by the roll or in containers of pre-cut sheets that will match on most cookie trays. I choose the rolls of parchment to the pre-cut sheets as a result of I discover that many of the sheets are too small for the pan, and I’d reasonably trim off or fold up any extra paper to get extra protection. Nonetheless, pre-cut parchment paper has its followers (together with senior commerce editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, who swears by King Arthur Flour’s). Many specialty shops additionally promote pre-cut parchment liners for cake tins of all sizes, however you can too reduce out your personal. (As an apart, parchment paper may even be was piping bags.) 

king-arthur-parchment-paper-sheets

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Bleached and unbleached parchment paper (that are white and lightweight brown, respectively) can be found in most shops, and I’ve discovered no distinction in efficiency. So for those who don’t have any reservations in regards to the added step of chlorine remedy, simply purchase whichever is most cost-effective. 

What Are Silicone Baking Mats?

Nonstick Baking Mat

Silpat


Silicone baking mats are non-stick sheets, a lot thicker than parchment paper, which might be manufactured to suit into customary sheet trays (half, quarter, and so forth.). They’re created from food-grade silicone, and a few are bolstered with a fiberglass mesh to make them extra sturdy. They’re oven-safe as much as 450°F for some manufacturers, or as excessive as 550°F for others—though it’s best to at all times test the producer’s specs. Like pre-cut parchment paper, silicone mats are offered in all styles and sizes. 

What Is Parchment Paper Greatest For? 

Critical Eats / Vicky Wasik


In my kitchen, probably the most common activity for parchment paper is lining half-sheet trays for a batch of cookies. (I additionally like to chop off a small rectangle to line quarter-sheet trays and dole out balls of dough for simple chilling.) Not solely does parchment present a floor that even the sugariest cookie dough gained’t stick with, but it surely additionally provides a layer of slight insulation, serving to to stop scorching (particularly if utilizing darker pans). It gained’t stick with your cookies, but it surely additionally isn’t so slippery that your cookies flatten out sooner than they will bake up. 

Critical Eats / Vicky Wasik


Silicone mats can’t compete on this area. As Stella Parks notes in her piece on the troubles of baking cookies on silicone, it doesn’t soak up moisture or fats like parchment does, leaving cookies a tad greasy—and in addition sweaty, if cooled on their trays. Additionally, they’re a bit too nonstick, inflicting cookies to unfold an excessive amount of within the oven, which ends up in the flawed texture, overcooked edges, and/or not sufficient rise. The thickness of those mats will help conduct warmth extra gently, however they insulate the cookies an excessive amount of from the direct warmth from the tray beneath, which may be why they don’t set quick sufficient and unfold an excessive amount of. 

One other nice use for parchment that may’t be replicated by silicone? Lining cake tins. Greasing the tin, after which inserting a sheet reduce to the pan’s form on the underside means the cake will launch with ease and little to no breakage. After all, they promote cake tin-size silicone mats, however then you need to have two to 3 of them for each measurement cake pan you could have. 

For delicate piping work like buttercream flowers, royal icing transfers, or tempered chocolate designs, I like to make use of parchment as a result of it’s straightforward to peel off whereas being very cautious to not injury your creation. Silicone mats generally is a bit too thick to softly peel them off. Plus you may reduce the parchment into no matter measurement you want and simply transfer them round, wish to the fridge or a showstopper cake. 

Lastly, I really like rolling out dough for cut-out cookies on parchment as a substitute of a silicone mat. I simply lay one other piece of parchment on high of the dough and roll the dough between the 2 items, which additionally helps my rolling pin from turning into a sticky mess. This manner, it’s tremendous straightforward to find out the right thickness for rolling, switch the slabs to and from the fridge, and pry the fragile cutouts out of their dough prisons. 

What Are Silicone Mats Greatest For?

Critical Eats / Vicky Wasik


Though parchment can also be nice for baking one other cookie, macaron shells, some bakers swear through the use of silicone mats. A lot of them even include macaron templates of various sizes conveniently printed on them. This would possibly boil down to private desire. And whereas silicone mats make some cookies, for instance, the classic chocolate chip, unfold an excessive amount of, different sorts of cookies resembling florentines and tuiles profit from loads of unfold. 

Bread bakers love utilizing silicone mats which might be precisely the scale of a bread oven. With them, they will prove their formed loaf onto an oval of silicone, spray it, coat it in flour, rating it with a lame, and simply switch it with their two little tab handles to the pre-heated bread oven. In my expertise with baking sourdough, parchment tends to scorch on the excessive temperatures required for a tall rise and open crumb. 

Critical Eats / Andrew Janjigian


One other style of baked items I’ll whip out my silicone mats for is something tremendous sticky. I’ve discovered that with sizzling, molten caramel, silicone is far more forgiving. After I’m dipping caramel apples, I like to position them on silicone to set. Or once I’ve made a hard-crack caramel like for peanut brittle, I wish to pour it out onto a silicone mat on a sheet tray. Parchment can get caught on the caramel just a little simpler and, as a result of it’s paper, it is inclined to ripping. (A very good silicone mat will virtually by no means tear.) The identical goes for a batch of syrupy granola. It’s annoying to need to attempt to peel off parchment caught to one thing sticky, belief me. After all, you possibly can at all times evenly grease any parchment you’re utilizing, however then you definitely’ll get a sheen on the completed product, and why undergo the additional step?

Additionally they make silicone mats for worktops which might be a fantastic non-stick floor for rolling out pie crust, brioche dough for cinnamon rolls, or different sticky pastries. They usually include ruler markings on the edges, helpful baking conversion charts, and concentric circles displaying you the right diameters for pie crust, too. 

Professionals and Cons of Parchment Paper, at a Look

Critical Eats / Vicky Wasik


Professionals

  • Disposable for simple clean-up
  • Very skinny for even cooking and optimum warmth transference
  • Nonstick, however not slippery, resulting in optimum unfold for cookies
  • Way more versatile—good for lining any measurement pan, and even making pastry luggage
  • Some manufacturers (Reynolds, If You Care) are compostable 

Cons

  • Single-use paper, even when you may get a number of makes use of out of it, isn’t as sustainable

Professionals and Cons of Silicone Mats, at a Look

Critical Eats / Andrew Janjigian


Professionals

  • Value-effective in the long run—purchase it as soon as and also you’ll have it for years 
  • Reusable—much less waste and environmental affect
  • Extra heat-resistant than parchment paper
  • Simple to throw within the dishwasher
  • Much less fragile than parchment paper
  • Evenly distributes warmth

Cons

  • Too slippery, resulting in an excessive amount of unfold on cookies
  • Difficult to wash and dry by hand
  • Have a tendency to carry onto highly effective smells and stains 

So, Which Ought to You Purchase?

All this to say, it’s a boon to have each a roll of parchment paper in addition to one or two silicone mats in your kitchen, for all of the occasions whenever you don’t *want* to make use of a single-use paper product. 

Why We’re the Consultants

  • Eric King is a recipe developer, photographer, meals stylist, and content material creator.
  • He has a B.S. in journal journalism from Syracuse College.
  • He runs a baking weblog referred to as easygayoven and has developed, styled, and photographed recipes for Netflix Household.
  • He has reviewed many gadgets for critical eats, together with bench scrapers, a smart stand mixer, wine tumblers, and extra.

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