Nonstick baking pans are a definite improvement over the dark metal pans bakers used a few decades ago. These pans are usually made of aluminum that's been coated with a nonstick surface. Although it's not absolutely essential that you line nonstick baking trays, there are definite advantages to doing so. If you opt not to line pans, be sure to spray them lightly with nonstick cooking spray and use a plastic spatula so you don't damage the nonstick surface.
Quick Cleanup and Perfect Results
Nonstick baking trays help keep foods from sticking, but they're not foolproof. Lining them first has several advantages. First, lining a baking tray ensures that food really will come cleanly from the pan. This might not be critical if you're making cookies, but it's absolutely essential if you're baking a cake to decorate later. Lining the pan also reduces the amount of fat you must use in baking, because you might not need to grease the pan. Lined pans wash up quickly. In some cases, you might not have to wash them at all.
What to Use
You could line nonstick trays with aluminum foil, but the best option is parchment paper. This paper has been specially treated with an acid so it doesn't absorb a lot of oil and can tolerate high heats. Depending on the brand, parchment paper is safe to use up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Parchment paper is finished with a nonstick coating, such as silicone, so food slides right off. It's sold in grocery stores next to the paper products, or buy it in bulk at warehouse or cooking supply stores.
How to Do It
To line baking trays, simply tear off a sheet of parchment paper large enough to cover the tray. If you're baking cookies, you won't need to spray the parchment paper. If you're baking a dense cake, you may want to spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray to ensure that the cake comes out cleanly. You can spray the pan before you put the parchment paper down so the paper doesn't slide. Leave a 1- to 2-inch lip of parchment paper at either end of the tray. Pull this lip to release the baked good out of the pan after it's done. If you're using round pans, place the pan on a sheet of parchment paper and trace around it. Cut the circle out and fit it snugly in the pan.
Nonstick Cookware 101
Whether you opt to line your pans or not, buy nonstick pans that are light in color. Dark, shiny nonstick pans cause foods to brown more quickly, and your baked goods may be brown on top before they're done on the inside. Choose dull gray nonstick pans instead. Nonstick pans bake cakes and cookies more quickly than traditional metal pans -- up to 20 percent faster, advises "Bon Appetit" magazine. Set the timer for 5 to 10 fewer minutes than you normally would.
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