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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Baking with plastic wrap?

Anne just wrote a funny post about a disastrous cooking evening, which was topped off by trying the method in Nigella's new book, Feast, for lining a cake tin with plastic wrap. Her wrap melted instantly and leaked into the cake, making an awful-sounding toxic mess. The amount of comments left condeming this wacky idea has galvanised me into action....

...because, yes! This method actually *does* work! At least, it has for me.

Wtiness! I tried her method a few months back, convinced it wouldn't work. I mean, it sounds SO stupid! Lining a cake tin with thin plastic wrap you use to wrap sandwiches?? Did she use some amazing super-strength plastic wrap you can only buy in the UK?? She must have gone crazy! I decided to give it a go anyway; I didn't have much to lose if the cake failed.
The first few seconds were hairy as it seemed to curl up and looked like it was about to collapse in a melted mass, but something happened...it stopped - and just sat there happily lining my cake. In fact, after taking the cake out and cooling it, I noticed the plastic wrap had actually become harder and more solid! I've taken to using this trick a lot now, because I keep forgetting to buy more greaseproof paper when I'm at the supermarket.
So, I wonder why it worked for me (and Nigella) but failed miserably for Anne? I used a metal cake tin, but I'm sure Anne did too. Is the type of plastic wrap so different in Sweden? I just used the bog standard stuff you get in a roll and get into a furious mess with when you can't tear it off cleanly and stop itself folding over and sticking to itself...
I'm really curious....why this dramatic difference in results??

In other news - I receive a late birthday present from friends of a $50 voucher to use at Books For Cooks! Yay! I have a few ideas, but does anyone have any must-have recommendations?


  • I am now officially fascinated with the idea of trying plastic wrap. Bad news for my pans, probably...
    Anyway, in terms of cookbooks, I vote for (1) Cocolate or Chocolate and the art of low fat desserts by Alice Medrich (2) Sydney food by Bill Granger - all of which I really adore.

    By Blogger Nic, at 4/13/2005 12:01:00 am  

  • Hmmm...I'm trying to think of any books I can't live without; and I'm mostly coming up with vegetarian cookbooks...not what you're looking for, I think.

    I do really like Just a Bite, by Gale Gand, as well as the books Cocktail Food: 50 Finger Foods with Attitude by Mary Corpening Barber, and Brunch, by Louise Pickford. I recently made half a dozen recipes from the Cocktail Book, and loved them all.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 4/13/2005 02:30:00 am  

  • In the US, some plastic wraps are made of polyethylene and some are made of PVC. I'd imagine they have different properties when heated. But I'm not a chemist, so who knows :)

    By Blogger Brian W, at 4/13/2005 03:29:00 am  

  • I've heard of wrapping food in plastic wrap and steaming but never baking! I'll have to try it.
    Have you thought about Tetsuya's Cookbook? I've just bought it and I'm in love!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/13/2005 05:38:00 am  

  • *sigh* I, too, am really wondering why it didn't work for me. Oh well! :) As for books, I'm really plugging Jamie's Dinners by Jamie Oliver if you haven't tried it already! Great recipes!

    By Blogger Anne, at 4/13/2005 02:51:00 pm  

  • Hi all - thanks for your recommendations. It means I can go to the store with a purpose, then start wandering aimlessly rather than wandering around lost from the start.

    Nic - Would you believe the Chocolate & the art of low fat dessert is THE book I've been trying to get for about a year, but it's impossible here in Australia. It has to be ordered in from USA, and even this cookbook shop won't do it as it's not cost-effective for them. Ordering it from Amazon works out to be HUGELY expensive with the exchange rate and postage, so I'll just have to keep my eye out for a 2nd hand copy or something.

    Stephanie- I'm off to check your recommendations now!

    Barbara - I didn't know Tetsuya had a book. I'll definitely check it out when I'm there

    Anne - I love Jamie Oliver too. I think I'll be giving that one careful scrutiny at the shop

    Brian - hey, that's really interesting. I did wonder if plastic wraps around the world differed in their composition. Especially during my period of wondering whether this Nigella cooking idea would really work for me.

    By Blogger Niki, at 4/13/2005 11:50:00 pm  

  • The whole idea of heating plastic wrap sets off alarm bells in my head...I don't have proof, I don't know anything much about the science of plastic but it just seems so dang wrong.

    By Blogger Suebob, at 4/14/2005 01:04:00 am  

  • Apparently, Chocolate and the art of low-fat dessert isn't available here, either! I just amazon, and the only copies they have are used...otherwise, I'd offer to send it to you!

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 4/14/2005 05:59:00 am  

  • hi there! was just wandering through your site and read this. i work for healthy food guide magazine (www.healthyfoodguide.com.au) and we featured a reader question on this a few months ago. you should NEVER bake with glad wrap - it's not designed to be heated and is actually carcinogenic.
    the only plastics you should heat are the ones that say 'microwave safe'.
    anyway. hope this helps you all!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/18/2009 09:07:00 am  

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