Parchment-free Baking

Lately, my kids have been begging me to bake some cookies. Since we’ve been in the triple digits in Austin I think all month, I have been reluctant to do anything requiring the oven. But today I finally gave in. My daughter wanted oatmeal cookies; my son chocolate chip. So I decided on Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, otherwise known as Neiman Marcus Cookies.

As I was getting my mise en place,* I realized I was out of parchment paper. What?! How could I bake cookies with no parchment to line my baking sheets? I was tempted to scrap the whole effort, but the ingredients were measured, children would be disappointed, and the oven was preheated (no mean feat with my tempermental oven; more about in my post about the perfect chocolate chip cookie). So I pressed on without the paper. But I was skeptical — I’ve never baked cookies without it.

Now I had to decide whether to grease or not to grease the sheet pans. Most cookie recipes called for ungreased sheets, lest the cookies spread too much. But I was afraid that the cookies would stick and thus produce a dishwashing nightmare. So I chose to lightly spray with cooking spray. 

choc oat cookie

Well, what do you know? These cookies didn’t really spread, at least not that much. I think the oatmeal in the cookies provided some bulk to the dough and helped with the spreading issue. I’m sure most other cookies would have spread into one big glob.

Two lessons I learned (or re-learned): one, don’t be afraid to improvise even if you don’t have all the ingredients or equipment that you need for your recipe; and, two, you don’t always need parchment paper to bake cookies. That said, I ordered a box of half sheet parchment paper today. Even though today’s baking session was a successful, I still love my parchment paper.

*Mise en place is a French cooking term meaning “everything in its place,” which means gathering all your ingredients and supplies before you start cooking. It helps you stay organized and cook faster.

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2 responses to “Parchment-free Baking

  1. Anna, I have never baked cookies with parchment paper, have never even heard of doing so. I have bought special cookie pans over the years, which keep them from sticking. My favorite one has a slightly bumpy pan surface, which works great.

  2. At work we use rimmed aluminum baking sheets and line them with parchment, but before I became a chef I learned about that method from Martha Stewart. That method is such a habit now it’s hard to remember if I ever baked cookies any other way. I’ve never seen the “slightly bumpy” cookie pan you speak of.

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