What's the Difference Between Parchment Paper and Wax Paper?
Martha loves using parchment paper in the kitchen. Parchment paper is grease- and moisture-resistant paper specially treated for oven use. It is very versatile—use it to line cake molds and baking sheets, to wrap fish and other dishes that are cooked en papillote, and to cover countertops during messy tasks to make cleanup easy. If you're sifting or grating a small amount of an ingredient, you can simply let it fall onto the paper, then pick up the paper and pour it into a dish.
Wax paper has a thin coating of wax on each side, making it nonstick and moisture-resistant; it is a good, less-expensive substitute for parchment paper for tasks such as covering countertops, and is available at any supermarket. Unlike parchment paper, however, it is not heat-resistant and therefore should not be used in the oven, as the wax could melt, or even ignite.
Besides lining baking sheets and cake pans, this inexpensive paper can be used for a range of tasks, from pouring ingredients to steaming fish. Parchment paper is treated with silicone, so it is nonstick; it is also heatproof and grease-resistant. It's available bleached (white) or unbleached (brown). It protects pans, aids cleanup, and prevents food from sticking. It also makes a handy funnel for transferring dry ingredients. You can bake fish or chicken in it for a low-fat cooking method. Rolls of parchment paper are available in the baking section of most supermarkets. Precut sheets and rounds can be found in baking-supply stores.
Another good option for lining baking sheets is a Silpat baking mat. Made of flexible, heat-resistant silicon, they are much more expensive than either parchment paper or wax paper, but last for years.
How to Use Parchment Paper to Line a Cake Pan
Using the bottom of the pan as a guide, trace a circle on the paper, then cut out the round and fit it in the pan. This will keep cakes from sticking.
How to Use Parchment Paper When Sifting and Pouring
When sifting dry ingredients, sift them onto the parchment, then fold the paper to form a funnel for easy pouring.
How to Use Parchment Paper to Line Baking Sheets
Rub softened butter on the corners of baking sheets to help the paper adhere. This will also prevent rolled paper from curling up at the edges during baking.
How to Use Parchment Paper to Prevent Sticking
Foods baked on parchment paper release easily from the pan. This is especially helpful when baking thin cookies and other delicate pastries.
How to Use Wax Paper to Cover Your Counter
Measure dry ingredients, such as flour, sugar, or cocoa, over a clean sheet of waxed paper. Spoon into a measuring cup, and level the top with a straightedge (or a butter knife), sweeping excess onto the paper.
How to Use Wax Paper to Put the Extra Back
Once you've measured, pick up the paper, and funnel the excess back into the canister. Save the paper for the next time, if you like, or use it to line a cake pan.