Parchment Pan Liners

I’ve made this point before, but I see no reason not to keep on making it. Always, always, always line your cake-baking vessels from stem to stern with parchment paper. I know you have a non-stick pan, I don’t care. It’ll stick. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sooner or later you’re going to accidentally scratch the inside of the thing, which is all the incentive a delicate little layer of butter cake needs to hang on. Not much, mind you, but just enough so the pull of the falling layer rips a piece of the bottom out. Don’t believe me? Fine then, please move on to YouTube and that SNL skit you missed.

For the rest of you real bakers, I will tell you about the godsend of parchment. Lining a cake pan with it is a piece of, er, cake. It does take a little time, but to me the extra insurance is worth it. It comes in a roll at the grocery store, which is actually better than the big sheets that most commercial bakeries use. This lets you cut the long strips you need to line the sides of your pan. But I’m ahead of myself.

To line a cake pan, start by tracing the bottom of the pan on the parchment with a pencil. Then just cut it out with scissors, slightly inside the line. It should be a near-perfect fit (don’t worry if it’s not perfect, 95-plus percent of the pan will still be covered. Next, using the edge of the sheet as a guide, cut a 2-to-3-inch strip of parchment that’s the length of the circumference (remembering high school math, that’s the diameter of the pan, in our case 9 inches, times π, or 3.14 for a total of 28 and a quarter inches…or so). Don’t worry if it’s a little long or short. Overlap is no problem and a patch is a piece of….uh you get me.

Now, get out the can of cooking spray and go to work. Give the inside a good coat. First, stick the bottom down and then put the side-strip in, straight edge down. As you’ll see, the wetness of the spray will hold it all on just dandy. If there’s a gap, put on a patch and go sign up for that remedial geometry class over at the community college. Conversely, if there isn’t, call your high school math teacher and tell her all that extra tutoring she gave you wasn’t in vain. Thank you Sister Aquinata (yes, that’s a real name). Last, give the whole mess and extra coat of cooking spray and you’re ready to rock n’ roll.

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