Zero Waste Baking: How to have your cake, and eat it too
Baking at home is a must to avoid plastic packaging and for healthier eating. In a low or zero waste kitchen, you CAN bake without baking paper, parchment paper or cake tin liners. Here is how to replace baking paper permanently and save money.
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In the journey to a zero waste kitchen, we are constantly making little changes to our cooking and shopping habits to find the best options for us.
For me personally, solutions must be cheap (or free), simple and easy to implement, without requiring a big time commitment.
The convenience of Baking paper cannot be denied. Cookies slip right off, cakes pop out of their tins and there is little cleaning involved as it is thrown straight into the bin.
But, isn’t baking paper made of PAPER? What’s the issue?
It sure is paper…..however it is coated with plastic, which gives it the non-stick properties we love, and prevent it from catching fire in your oven.
This also means baking paper cannot be recycled or composted effectively. Some people even say it could be harming our health as it contains chlorine and other chemicals, but I tend to think it is likely to be such small quantities that it probably doesn’t pose a huge health risk.
We know that Teflon can be bad for us, especially once it has surface damage, alfoil may not be ideal, and the scientists are still out on whether silicone is 100% safe.
As always, I recommend sticking to your beliefs, values and common sense and making your own mind up about what’s best for you.
If you’re happy to use silicone baking trays , cookie sheets , cupcake moulds,
and other cookware, then go for it! If you are after specific moulds and shapes, I would highly recommend checking your local op-shops. This is a commonly donated item and are usually extremely cheap.
Silicone is a great alternative to constantly throwing away liners, plus they are versatile, long lasting and come in some really cute shapes too.
I do use some silicone bake ware (mostly for non-baking to be honest) but do find them a little awkward to work with as they are so flexible and I'm usually dodging children, pets and guests while cooking.
Non-stick cookware has a bit of a bad reputation, but I do use some teflon and silica bakeware, particularly with cookies. I really like these Aussie designed Reusable Silicone Food Wraps as they can be used to cover food and bake, replacing foil or baking paper PLUS they can be washed and eventually recycled (I love items with more than one use).
Overall, I have found that the BEST alternatives to baking paper and cake liners are good old fashioned Butter and Oil.
Butter is a brilliant way to turn any bakeware into non-stick and this is what I use the most for things like cakes, slices, cupcakes, banana bread.
Plus you can dig out your grandmother's tins and start using them again, the way they were intended.
There are a host of different oils to pick from too, olive and coconut oils are really useful, and probably a healthier alternative to butter. Oils often come in glass which is infinitely recyclable, unlike other containers.
How to Do Your Baking Without Baking Paper
To coat baking tins and trays, use oil or soft butter (not margarine), and spread it around with your fingers (this moisturises your hands and cuticles at the same time).
If you prefer to keep your hands clean, then opt for a basting brush instead, or simply tear of a piece of the butter wrapper to protect your fingers from the grease.
Beware - If you coat an entire cookie tray in butter or oil, there will be a portion of the tray without any cookies on it, and this is where it oils and butters can become over cooked, smoke, or create a hot sticky mess that is not a lot of fun to clean. If you want to know a little more about various oils, smoke points and nutritional details take a look at Smoking Points of Fats and Oils. So just coat where you intend to add food items for baking.
If you are baking on a nonstick surface and the food already contains oil or butter, you likely don't need to do much at all.
Did you know: You can even re-use butter wrappers for baking, Gippsland Unwrapped wrote an article on this if you want to test it out.
If you really, really want to continue with baking paper, or perhaps there are some specific items you bake or make that just cannot be done another way, then look out for alternative versions.
There are now more ecofriendly options and these can generally be used several times over before disposing of, like the If You Care range which is stocked in a lot of eco-friendly shops and markets.
Will you Make the Swap?
By making the swap, not only are you preventing landfill, but also reducing all the resources required to produce these items and get them into your supermarket. Not to mention how easily those empty boxes contaminate recycling streams by combining cardboard and metal with those tear off strips - Did you realise these need to be removed?
If you still have a supply of baking paper, you may want to use the remainder up while you’re experimenting with which method works best. If you’re ready to make the switch now, think about giving your remaining supply to someone who needs it, rather than throwing it in the bin. (or maybe save it for making beeswax wraps at home).
If you're still using cling wrap, you might to read this next post on some great greener alternatives to cling wrap!
I hope I’ve convinced you to at least try out the butter next time you bake up some homemade goodies, you may even be able to convert a few people in your household to create less waste in their kitchen.
I’d love to hear how the switch went for you, or if you have discovered some great hacks in the process.
P.S. It is completely fine to hide baking paper and glad wrap to prevent your family from using it 😉