How to Cut Brownies Cleanly
Goodbye, cracked edges.
By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
It doesn’t matter if you’re making gooey, fudgy brownies from scratch or brownies from a mix you picked up on your way home from work: you want them to be cleanly, perfectly cut. Surprise, cutting perfect brownie squares starts before you’ve even put the pan in the oven. Read on for all our smart tips and tricks.
How to Bake Brownies with Crisp, Square Edges
The first step in baking brownies is choosing the right pan. If you want brownies to be perfectly square, it’s easier if you bake them in a square pan. If the recipe calls for a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, you can still cut perfect squares, it’s just a bit harder to eyeball it. You should also make sure to reach for a metal baking pan not a glass baking pan. As our baking expert Jessie Sheehan explains in her story What's the Difference Between Glass and Metal Baking Pans?, metal pans create sharp, aesthetically pleasing edges on baked goods, while glass pans create rounded edges.
Next you should make sure you prep your pan so the brownies will easily and cleanly release from it. Removing your baked brownies from the pan is much easier if you line the very bottom of it with foil or parchment paper. Place the pan on top of your sheet of foil or parchment and trace around the bottom. Cut the foil or parchment with a pair of scissors, place the shape inside the pan and coat it with vegetable cooking spray or smear it with butter.
How to Properly Cool Brownies
The single most important step in cutting brownies cleanly is to be sure they are completely cooled before you attempt to cut them. We have methods that will give you perfect brownies but none of them will work if you’re impatient and cut hot or even warm brownies. If the recipe you’re using gives instructions for a specific cooling method, follow it and wait for your brownies to cool completely. If there aren’t specific instructions, leave the brownies in the pan, put the pan on a rack and let them cool completely (which means a 2 to 3 hour wait). You can speed the cooling process by refrigerating the brownies in the pan, or by freezing them, but we think letting them cool at room temperature will give you the best results.
How to Neatly Remove Brownies from a Pan
When your brownies are completely cool, take them out of the pan and put them on a cutting board. The best way to do this is to place a lightweight cutting board over the top of the pan. Flip it and set it on the counter. Gently pull the pan from the brownies to release them, then carefully peel off and remove the foil or parchment paper. Place another lightweight cutting board on top of the brownies and flip them right-side-up. The bottom of the brownies should now be on the cutting board.
How to Cut Brownies Cleanly
No matter which tool you use to cut brownies, use with long, confident strokes. Hesitating and moving the knife back and forth or in a sawing motion will not give a clean cut. If you want perfect squares or rectangles, you can do what food stylists do: use a ruler. Very lightly score the brownies along the edges with the tip of a paring knife to create guides for yourself of where you’ll be making longer cuts.
How to Cut Brownies Cleanly Using a Plastic Knife
Plastic knives are inherently nonstick, making them the perfect utensil for cutting brownies cleanly. Who knew? A plastic “dinner” knife isn’t long enough to cut the entire length or width of a baking pan in one decisive cut, so you’ll have to make two. Make your first cut halfway down the length of the brownie. Stop. Use a warm, damp cloth or paper towel to wipe the knife clean of all brownie crumbs. Turn the brownie around and cut across to meet the first cut. Stop. Clean the knife. Keep cutting, stopping after every cut to clean the knife.
How to Cut Brownies Cleanly Using a Chef’s Knife
The benefit cutting with a chef’s knife? The long blade can swipe across the length of a pan in one cut. Chef’s knives aren’t nonstick, so you’ll need to lightly spray the blade with vegetable cooking spray on both sides before making your first cut. After making the cut, stop and wipe the blade clean with a warm, damp cloth or paper towel. Lightly spray the blade with cooking spray again. Continue cutting, wiping and spraying.
If you’d like your chef’s knife to seemingly melt right through the brownie, warm it up before cutting with it. Keep the knife in a tall container of very hot water and dip it and wipe it between each cut to rewarm the knife and remove the crumbs. This hack isn’t just for brownies: it’s how we cut birthday cake perfectly, too.
How to Cut Brownies Cleanly Using a Pizza Cutter
If you own a pizza cutter, great news: it’s a fast, easy way to cut brownies perfectly. Spray both sides of the blade lightly with cooking spray and make one firm, confident swipe across the width of the brownie to cut it in half. Wipe off the blade, spray the blade and cut, repeating the wiping and spraying process, until you’ve cut up the entire brownie.
How to Store Brownies
Whether you want perfectly clean-cut edges on your brownies or not, you definitely don’t want them to get stale. When brownies are well-wrapped, then sealed in a zip-top bag, they can stay at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. After that you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
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