Silicone Baking Mats vs Parchment Paper

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Determining the mass loss in the two samples

The silicone baking mat (green) loses 0.4% of its mass during the heating cycle. The parchment paper (red), on the other hand, loses 5.1% of its initial mass during heating and a further 4.3% during isothermal treatment. The mass loss is not completed after 60 minutes in either of the two cases.

Figure 1: Temperature-dependent mass change of sil
Figure 1: Temperature-dependent mass change of silicone sample (green) and parchment paper (red)

Do not use brown paper and grocery bags instead of parchment paper for baking!

Brown paper grocery bags will ignite in the oven at 232 Celcius, which is the same oven temperature required for baking sourdough breads, and hence it should not be used for sourdough bread baking. Your dough will also stick to your brown paper bags as it does not have the same non-stick surface as parchment paper.

Although brown paper bags are commonly used in baking chicken and turkey in the oven, these are done over lower temperatures below 200 Celcius, hence in this application the bag will not catch on fire. When baking sourdough bread, the oven temperature gets to about 235 Celcius at the minimum, and the brown paper bag will ignite at this temperature.

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Uses of parchment paper

I love to use parchment paper to line my cake pans. Now parchment paper comes in rectangular sheets and cake pans are usually round. To get the perfect circle for the base of your round pan, you need to take a sheet of parchment, fold it in half and then fold it diagonally so that you get a conical shape. Place the tip of the cone at the center of the cake pan and cut off the excess from the back. When you open it up, you will see a parchment piece, exactly as the size of your cake pan. 

Now grease your cake pans with butter/oil and place the parchment. This will always give you perfectly neat bottoms of your cake sponges and nothing will get stuck at the bottom of your cake pan ever again! 

Parchment is also great for using in desserts that you cannot simply flip over but actually need to lift out of your baking pans. Millionaire shortbread, brownies, fudge, dessert bars, and other desserts that if you flip over, might actually fall apart or create a mess on the top layer of the dessert. Once you have out so much effort into making the perfect dessert, nobody wants it to fall apart at the last second. All you need to prevent that is to bring out your parchment and your baking pan. Grease your pans with butter/oil and place each parchment sheet like so, leaving additional handles on the side. These handles are what will allow you to simply lift up the dessert from the pan and then cut into it as you wish. 

I am sure you have seen a lot of loaf cakes on my

I am sure you have seen a lot of loaf cakes on my blog and on my Instagram, and I always love to have clean edges on my loaf cakes. For that, I make sure there is no crumbled parchment at the bottom and the sides of the pan. If you have any extra parchment, you want to make it fit the bottom of your pan. To do that and to get super clean edges, just fold the extra portion of the parchment and place the folded side facing the pan and the clean side facing you. And on the sides, leave handles so that again, you can easily lift up the loaf cake and all the sides are clean. 

What is the difference between parchment paper, baking paper, and wax paper?

As we said earlier, baking paper is just another name for parchment paper. They are the same thing.

The main difference is between parchment and wax paper. Wax paper is not heat resistant and you should not use wax paper to line the surface between baked goods and a cooking pan. If you use wax paper in an oven it may set on fire.

Parchment paper vs wax paper

Wax paper has a moisture-resistant coating made of wax.

Wax paper and parchment paper both have a non-stick surface. The difference between parchment and wax paper is that rather than having a heat resistant surface, wax paper is coated with flammable materials like paraffin wax.

Parchment paper isn’t flammable but is less suited to cold storage because it is less moisture resistant and so won’t keep food as fresh as waxed paper.

4 Alternatives to Parchment Paper for Baking

1. Aluminium Foil

Aluminium foil can be used instead of parchment paper, but you would have to dust it with flour or grease it with oil to prevent your bread from sticking; aluminium foil does not have the inherent non-stick ability as parchment paper.

Aluminium foil is oven heat resistant, and strong enough that you can use it to lift your dough, and transfer it into your dutch oven without the aluminium foil tearing.

Since aluminium foil is a metal, it has a high thermal conductivity, causing the bottom of your loaf to rise in temperature quicker, which may lead to a burnt bottom.

If you find that the bottom of your loaf is burning, you can place a baking pan between the bottom heating element of your oven and your cooking vessel to reduce the direct heat of the heating element from burning the bottom of your loaf.

Check out this article ‘’ to understand why the bottom of your loaf is burning, and learn other baking techniques to prevent the bottom of your loaf from burning.

2. Silicon Baking Mat

Silicon baking mats can also be used instead of pa

Silicon baking mats can also be used instead of parchment paper. Silicon baking mats are oven heat resistant, non-stick and reusable up to a few hundred times. The only downsides of silicon baking mats is that it is large and rather stiff, so you wouldn’t be able to fit it inside a dutch oven.

The best way to use a silicon baking mat is to load your dough on the silicon baking mat, and place it on a baking tray in the middle of the oven. Fill up a pot with hot boiling water and leave it at the bottom most shelf of the oven so that the loaf bakes in a steamed environment, which ensures maximum oven spring, and a thin crust.

About half way through the bake, open the oven door to release all the steam, and remove the pot of boiling water such that the loaf is allowed to finish baking in a dry environment; this ensures that the crust remains crispy.

The best part about the silicon baking mat is that it is made to be reusable. Just wash it after every bake, and it is good to go. A silicon baking mat can be reused up to a few hundred times, or until it starts to break apart.

The best silicon baking mats are made by Silpat. Silpat baking mats are the most durable, easy to clean, and does not discolor like its cheaper options. If you get the half-size Silpat baking mats, it even fits nicely in your baking tray without any of its sides protruding out of the tray.

3. Coating your baking surface with dusting flour

A parchment paper is not necessary to produce a good sourdough bread. Instead of using parchment paper, we can dust our baking vessel with flour instead. The coating of flour creates a non-stick surface which prevents the dough and baked bread from sticking to it.

The challenge with using only dusting flour is in

The challenge with using only dusting flour is in the process of transferring your proofed dough onto the hot baking surface. If you are using a baking stone, a baking peel can help you load your dough into the oven safely without burning yourself (just like how you would load a pizza).

Dust your baking peel with flour so that the dough will not stick to it. Load the dough onto the peel, bring the peel right on top of your baking stone where you would like the dough to sit, then slide the dough onto the baking stone. If you do not own a baking peel, a baking tray that is dusted with flour works just as well.

If you are using a cast iron dutch oven to bake your sourdough bread, cut out piece of aluminium and place the dough onto it, then grip the sides of the aluminium foil with your fingers and slowly lower it into the cast iron dutch oven. Leave the aluminium foil inside the dutch oven during the bake.

4. Coating your baking surface with oil

Oiling your baking surfaces such as your baking stone, baking tray, or aluminium foil works just as well to prevent your dough from sticking.

Oil increases the thermal conductivity between the dough and the baking surface, causing it to rise in temperature quicker, which may result in the bottom of your loaf from burning. If that is the case, you can place a baking tray between your baking surface and the bottom heating element of your oven to prevent the direct heat of the oven from scorching the bottom of your loaf.

When baking with a cast-iron dutch oven, you need to use aluminium foil to transfer the dough into the dutch oven pot, to prevent your fingers from burning. You can oil the aluminium foil to prevent the dough from sticking to it, and leave the aluminium foil inside the dutch oven during the bake.

Conclusion

Outgassing of water, CO and CO2 is harmless as they leave the oven in gaseous form. The amounts of methanol and formic acid contained are likely very small. In addition, the silicone degradation products are probably also insignificant since they are harmless. Nevertheless, heating a silicone baking mat without baking goods prior to its first use would certainly be a sensible action.

We here at NETZSCH Analyzing & Testing hope these insights will help you enjoy your freshly baked cookies even more this Christmas season. We certainly do now!

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