Q. What is parchment paper?
A. Parchment paper -- also called baking paper or baking parchment -- is a heavy-duty paper sold on rolls in boxes, like aluminum foil and plastic wrap. It is moisture-resistant and grease-resistant, and has several uses in the kitchen.
Primarily, parchment is used for lining baking pans. It eliminates greasing baking pans so there is virtually no clean-up. And parchment-lined baking pans practically guarantee that food won't stick, which is especially helpful when baking cakes and sticky cookies; they practically slide out of the pans.
Parchment helps out in other ways too. You can literally pick up an entire batch of cookies from the baking sheet and transfer them to a wire rack to cool without fumbling with hot pans and spatulas. (No more misshapen cookies.) And parchment also holds up in microwave cooking.
Parchment also is used to make disposable pastry bags and to bake foods en papillote, a cooking method in which foods and seasonings are cooked together inside an envelope made with the parchment.
Look for parchment paper in the baking section of the supermarket or with the aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Pre-cut parchment circles for lining round cake pans are available in kitchen specialty stores.