Making Baking Even Easier

butter-wrappers-for-greasing-pansIf you’ve done much baking, you know that a well-greased pan is what keeps your beautifully baked cake from becoming The Cake That Looks Like a Cat Chew Toy.  Even the airiest chiffon can fall prey to a sticky, grasping pan…and while a flattened chiffon is still delicious, an easily-gotten-out-of-the-pan chiffon is even better.  (The one glaring exception to all of this is the angel food cake, which – thanks to its high egg white content – is so tall and strong that it can withstand a bit of smushing and tearing as you free it from its pan.  Plus, conventional wisdom says that the avoidance of any grease/oil whatsoever in the batter and on the pan is part of what makes the angel cake so angelically fluffy.  I’ve never dared grease the pan to see what would happen if I were to break that cardinal rule.)

Tragically, although greasing a pan is crucial to baking success, it’s tempting to skip because it seems like a messy job.  It isn’t.  The easiest and most effective way BY FAR to grease your pan or baking sheet is to save your butter wrappers and just rub them on your pans the way you’d use a rag to polish silver.  The stiff, thick wrapper will have enough butter on the buttery side to thoroughly grease the pan while the impervious thickness keeps your hand from getting buttery on the non-buttery side.  If you finish off a stick of butter and aren’t going to bake anything right away, just fold the wrapper in half butter-side-in, zip it into a bag, and stick it in the refrigerator to use when you do have baking on the brain.  I often have a mini-stack of wrappers waiting and ready to go.

If you don’t have a wrapper, the next best way is to drizzle the pan with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil – if you’re baking over 350F, use coconut; if you’re baking under 350F, use either one – and then either use a piece of wax paper to rub in the oil or just use your bare (washed, of course) hands.  I usually use my bare hands and then keep rubbing the excess oil into my skin.  Extra-virgin olive oil and unrefined coconut are wonderful for your hands.  Why pay too much for a fancy bottle of lotion when you’ve got better options in your cupboards?  Extra-virgin olive oil is great for your hair, too!

I should probably note here that I’m not a fan of cooking sprays, mostly because the vast majority of them consist of poor-quality oils (i.e., refined, cheap oils like vegetable oil or “pure” olive oil).  I’d also rather not spend money on a single-purpose item like cooking spray when I can accomplish the same goal with what I already have on hand.  Besides, it’d be way too messy to smooth cooking spray into my hair when it’s frizzy – I’d rather stick with extra-virgin olive oil for my pans, hair, and hands.  Of course, having said all this, if your pan or sheet can accommodate parchment paper, using that is an even more foolproof and less messy way to make sure your baked goods won’t stick to your pans.


Courtesy of Cultured Cook.

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