THE BEST BAKING SURFACE


I am Bani Nanda, the founder and head chef at Miam Pâtisserie. I started Miam from home in 2015 in New Delhi, India. I have been a part of the industry for almost 10 years and I wanted to impart some helpful tips via this blog! Alongside running a pâtisserie, I also conduct plenty of workshops. My students are primarily aspiring pastry chefs and home-bakers. 
Lately, I have faced a lot of queries pertaining to baking surfaces. I did an experiment with cookies just to clear out different parameters! 
I lined 4 trays with-
1. A perforated silicon mat ( brand : Silikomart )
2. A plain silicon mat ( brand : Silikomart )
3. Parchment / baking paper ( brand : Kitchenette ) 
4. Aluminium foil ( brand : Freshwrapp ) 
Firstly this blog post is about different baking surfaces and not about the cookies so I hope you don't expect a recipe! Ha!  I made a large batch of double chocolate cookies and baked 100g balls ( 4 on each tray ). I baked all the trays together in my Unox oven ( model XBC405E ). The oven environment was maintained evenly
( 160 degrees Celsius and fan speed 2 ). 
 
OVERVIEW-
PERFORATED SILICON MAT AND PLAIN SILICON MAT 
Both the silicon mats gave great results. I have been a long term advocate of these silicon mats. They are easy to assemble on the tray and are easy to maintain. They are not all that pocket friendly but they're definitely a one time buy. The cookies baked evenly for 12 minutes on both the surfaces. The cookies on the plain silicon mat expanded a little more than I expected. This is because there is very less friction due to the slippery nature of silicon. The perforated silicon mat on the other hand has a rough surface and the small holes result in  better heat dispersion throughout the cookie surface. The cookies expanded the right size! 
PARCHMENT PAPER AND FOIL
I was overall let down while using parchment paper and foil. I would first like to complain about how annoying they are to line. I have NEVER found the right size for my trays. I spent ages cutting them and lining them. I ended up cutting two strips each that I placed in an overlapped fashion. When I placed the trays in the oven, my oven fans blew them around violently. I ended up placing some rings as weights which eventually smashed into the cookies. RESULT- lopsided oval shaped uneven cookies. The cookies were easy to peel off from the parchment paper but I struggled a bit with the foil. 
 
If you were too lazy to read that, I made a table too! 
Baking Surface Shape Heat Regulation Behaviour Inside the Oven & Tray Prep  Removing after Cooling
Perforated Silicon Mat

Perfectly round & even spreading. 

Very Good Stable/ Easy to prep. Easy
Plain Silicon Mat Perfectly round but extra spreading. Very Good Stable/ Easy to prep. Easy
Parchment Paper Uneven ovular shape. Good Flew around while baking / took sometime to prep. Easy
Foil Uneven ovular shape. Not Good Flew around while baking / took sometime to prep.  Not as easy
 
LEARNINGS-
ONE-TIME-BUY vs ONE-TIME-USE
Silicon mats are a one time buy and are easy to maintain. Parchment paper and foil are a wasteful one-time-use alternative ( even though they are easily available and are cheaper ). So in my opinion, if you love baking and take it up often- invest in a good silicon mat! Also, don't forget to be a little mindful about the amount of waste your kitchen generates! 
CONCLUSION-
Perforated Silicon Mat > Silicon Mat > Parchment Paper > Foil