Published July 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Parchment paper is a work horse in our kitchen—can any retail-grade brand match the sheets we order from professional kitchen stores?
In the test kitchen we use large (16 /8 by 24 3/8 inches) commercial-grade sheets of parchment paper that we order by the case from professional kitchen supply stores. Because most home cooks are stuck with retail-grade parchment, we decided to compare a few popular brands. We tested these products using two of our recipes: Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies and Thin-Crust Pizza.
For the cookie test, we lined baking sheets with each type of parchment paper. After 12 minutes in a 375-degree oven, all brands performed well, displaying little browning and no charring at all. Release was also good with all brands; the cookies slid off their respective parchment sheets with ease. While the two brands that come in a roll tended to curl up at the edges, this problem was easily solved by placing the sheets with their curled edges down. The weight of the dough kept the parchment paper flat.
With all brands performing well with cookies, we moved on to a more stressful test with our Thin-Crust Pizza. (Pizza dough is rolled into a 14-inch circle between floured sheets of parchment and plastic wrap. The plastic is removed, the dough is topped with sauce and cheese, and excess parchment is trimmed. The pizza, still on the parchment, is then slid onto a preheated pizza stone in a 500-degree oven and baked for 12 minutes.) Once again, none of the brands burned. However, size mattered. Only one brand was wide enough to handle a 14-inch pizza. It won our overall test.
But we also identified a second winner when we considered lining cake pans. Cutting parchment to fit can be tedious and wasteful. We found a package of special parchment rounds to be a good bargain compared to a roll of supermarket parchment. One package contains 24 liners for eight- to nine-inch round cake pans and tube pans, 12 for each shape.