The Julia Child-Approved Hack For Lining A Cake Pan

Chef and culinary personality Julia Child shared plenty of handy tips and tricks with her audience on her various cooking shows, including the iconic "The French Chef," which ran for over a decade from 1962 to 1973. And there's one tip a guest shared on a 1997 episode of her show "Baking with Julia" that bakers will definitely want to check out.

If you've always hated the fussy process of cutting out the right size of parchment paper to line your cake pan, you'll be pleased to know there's a foolproof alternative to tracing out a circle and using scissors to clumsily cut it. Markus Farbinger, a master chef at The Culinary Institute of America who appeared on the episode alongside Child, demonstrated the hack in action.

You start by flipping your cake pan over and laying a piece of parchment paper on top of the overturned pan. Instead of trying to capture the size and shape of the pan with a pencil, leading to a potentially imprecise measurement and perhaps even pencil lines on your cake, Farbinger simply used the back of a large knife against the paper to make a series of scraping motions around the edges of the pan. Given that parchment paper is relatively delicate, the motion was enough to gently sever the circle of parchment atop the pan from the parchment that overhung it, helping to make a perfect round of parchment paper without requiring you to actually cut out a precise circle.

Don't forget to coat your pan with oil

Julia Child was impressed by the hack, commenting that the technique was much faster than attempting to draw lines and cut out a round of parchment paper — once you've gone around the pan with the back of your knife, you should be able to easily detach the circle of parchment paper for use.

However, before you plop it on the bottom of your pan, take a moment to flip the pan back around and coat the interior with a hint of vegetable oil (or your preferred oil). Since the parchment paper circle only lines the pan's bottoms and not the sides, you do still want to ensure your cake doesn't stick to the edges of the pan. Plus, the oil will help keep your parchment paper circle in place as you pour in the batter.

There are a few reasons to reach for the parchment paper when baking that go beyond merely trying to make sure your cake doesn't stick to the pan. First, it will give your final product a more even color, which could be particularly important for cakes that aren't getting covered in frosting. Additionally, it can help your pans last a little longer since the parchment acts as a bit of a protective layer, and it makes cleanup far quicker and easier.