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A Cautionary Tale About Baking Paper

June 8, 2013

One of the strange and delightful things about blogging is the propensity of strangers to give you little nuggets of advice.  One such was the comment on the “Storytime Fails” post that, whilst my writing was quite readable, my titles and, indeed, the title of my blog itself, were dull in the extreme.  I thought of my critic when I wrote this but haven’t changed it.  That’s my prerogative.

This post is about the wonders of baking parchment (you may well wish to stop reading now).   It wasn’t something I had ever contemplated much, until I arrived in Islamabad.


The Stuff of Dreams

The truth is that although you can purchase virtually anything in Islamabad, including cartons of ready-made Ambrosia custard, which I really wasn’t expecting to find on the shelves, it’s impossible to get your hands on baking paper.

At first I thought it didn’t matter.  I bought some stuff called “waxed paper” and was pretty confident it would do the same job.  That was until the fire.

I was making pizzas for H and some of his little friends and had them in the gas oven on waxed paper (I know, I know, but sometimes you don’t really put two and two together…). Shortly after they went in, the black smoke started to billow out and my friend walked into the kitchen to find me swamping the pizzas with water as I tried to put out the fire.  (Incidentally I still served them to the children who didn’t seem to notice.)  It didn’t work either for making meringue for a pavlova which rapidly turned into Eton Mess as it had welded itself to the paper and had to be chiselled off.

I shared my pain with some friends and discovered that baking paper really is the holy grail in Pakistan. It’s not even stocked by the extortionately expensive supermarkets which have Asda own-brand biscuits on the shelves.

It brought me to mind of the little day to day things that we absolutely take for granted. And that, when you don’t have them, life becomes just that little bit harder.  However, this week a very lovely friend (who writes a super blog about Islamabad here) brought me two boxes.  Yesterday I made pizza again.  There was no fire, the pizza cooked beautifully and, when I’d finished, it slid off the paper immediately.

I was filled with Joy and Delight.  I shall never look at baking paper in the same way again.  And, if you’re at the airport and you see someone heading for a flight to Islamabad, you can guarantee that somewhere in their luggage, they’ll have packed a few boxes of baking paper.  You just can’t do without it.

Photo courtesy of Sainsbury’s.  I believe that other reputable supermarkets (not in Islamabad) also stock baking paper.  Well done them. Long may it continue.


From → Pakistan

  1. Sara permalink

    oh boy do I understand this one – I have a few extra boxes if you need…


  2. I salute your making meringues at all… One fateful Christmas Eve I tried, and failed, three times to make a pavlova. Temper tantrums, throwing of meringue and general despair followed and on Christmas Day we ate an enormous amount of Eton mess. I shall appreciate my greaseproof paper all the more… I can’t quite work out why you need it to make pizza though – do tell?


  3. It’s my mother-in-law’s recipe. It’s an absolute winner. You need:
    3 egg whites
    6 oz caster sugar
    1 tspn cornflour
    1 tspn white wine vinegar
    1/4 tspn vanilla essence

    Great plate and cover with a sheet of greased grease-proof paper. Beat egg whites until stiff. Whisk in 3/4 of the sugar. Fold in the rest of the sugar. Stir in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence. Cook at 130 C for 40 mins and turn down to 100 C for 30 mins. Turn upside down on plate.
    It hasn’t failed me yet.
    Pizza requirement is courtesy of the Great British Bake-Off book. Paul Hollywood tells me that after the dough has risen and you’ve punched it down you divide it into 4 and make 4 circles for the pizzas on 4 bits of baking paper. Then cover with cling film and they should rise a bit as the oven heats up. You then put the dough in the oven on proper baking sheets. It seems to work well (now I’ve got baking paper!).


  4. Was Living Down Under permalink

    Interesting that comment about the title of your blog. I love it. And what keeps me coming back isn’t the title, it’s what you have to say and how you say it.

    I’ve been recently toying with starting a blog – actually thought about it when we first moved to Australia but never did. And now we’re back home in Canada and I spend my days at a computer desk working so a)don’t think I have much to write about and b)don’t much want to sit at a computer when I’m home after work. Anyway, it’s a long winded way of saying I was thinking about starting a blog and I signed on to Blogger but couldn’t think of a clever enough name… how sad is that? Not a very good start, eh? 🙂


    • Thank you very much. I can completely understand the lack of incentive to sit down and write a blog if you’re sitting at a computer all day as well. For me, it comes as a wonderful antidote to having to make up stories where the protagonist is a Prince called Harry who has Jump Boots and runs very fast. It’s nice to be able to think about adult (in a non-dodgy way) things.
      Please let me know though if you change your mind – I’m sure any blog you do write will be far more interesting than you think it will be. Take this post for example – I really didn’t think anyone would be particularly excited by my lack of baking parchment but it was something I felt the need to share…


  5. Thank you for the recipe – I’ll have a go and get back to you. Re baking parchment and Paul Hollywood, I think I’d pretty much do anything he asked of me so will henceforth use baking parchment at every opportunity.

    I have just started a blog was living down under and I love it… I too sit at a computer a lot of the day but the blog is different – I’m writing what I want to write and it might be guff but I’m enjoying it (shameless plug… Go and have a look, there is a link to it in carrot’s side bar – which btw was very exciting in itself, to be included in someone’s sidebar) I think has a ring to it!


  6. In the dim and distant past, when I spent a summer in Karachi, I remember being taken to a supermarket (in Clfton I think) which sold luxuries such as Heinz baked beans and small cartons of Ribena. I said to my friend “this is a Mecca!” then swiftly shut up. I froze the Ribena cartons and ate them as a blackcurrant sorbet – delicious. Pakistani Ribena made it on to my “favourite things” tube map, beside Mount Gay rum, which was unsurprisingly not available in 90s Karachi.


    • Thanks for the top tip on the blackcurrant sorbet – tres chic! I’ll give it a go. Pakistani Ribena is definitely different from the UK kind. It’s brown for starters. I don’t really want to know why…


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  1. Top Five Unexpected Biscuit Lessons Learned [So Far] | The Persnickety Biscuit

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