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Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: Listen up -- here are the many reasons why you should be lining your brownie pan.
I line brownie pans with foil -- across the bottom and up all four sides. This may seem like a time-consuming extra step. But it's actually an elegant trick and a time saver too.
An unlined pan needs to be greased -- a messy activity that I avoid whenever possible. And then the brownies must be cut in the pan, which scratches your pans, dulls your knives, and deforms the first brownie out of the pan (arguably a plus if you need an excuse to eat it yourself). Of course the pan must be washed before you put it away.
Lining the pan is quicker and less messy. The brownies are easier to remove when cool, and you can cut them all perfectly (if you care about such things). If you pour the batter carefully, you can even put the pan away without washing it, because it won’t be dirty!
There is just one thing: Never ever lay the foil across the pan and try to press it in. It will always tear, and you will always be annoyed.
Here's the secret: for an 8- or 9-inch square pan, tear off a square piece of foil* from a 12-inch roll. Turn the pan upside down on the counter. Center the foil on the pan: you should have 1 1/2 to 2 inches extending on each side. Fold the excess down the sides of the pan. Fold and crease the corners as though wrapping a present (I kind of enjoy this part). Slip your neat, tailor-made liner off of the pan. Turn the pan right side up and ease the liner into it. That's all! Clean, neat, quick. When the brownies are completely cool, grasp the edges of the foil and lift the brownies out and onto a cutting board.
*Nonstick foil is even easier to detach from the cooled brownies...
Alice's most recent book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, doles out delicious dessert recipes that don't take hours of prep (a lot of them don't even require turning on the oven) -- everything from lattice-free linzer to one-bowl French chocolate torte.
Photos by James Ransom