The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Last updated 5/12/2023


Paperfolding in Cookery and Baking
This page is being used to collect information about the history of the use of paperfolding in cookery and baking. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

Information about the use of paper pans and other containers to boil water in can be found here.


In Cookery


As far as I know, the first mention that it is possible to cook in a paper pan occurs in the manucript 'De Viribus Quantitatis' by Luca Pacioli which was written in or around 1502.

I have not been able to access the original document or an English translation but the dissertation 'Luca Pacioli and his 1500 book De Viribus Quantitatis' (which can be found at states that, in a section headed 'Cooking eggs, fish, meat in a paper pan':

'Pacioli describes how paper can be used as a frying pan. The paper is to be folded and closed off with pins or glue, so that it can be used as a pan. Fill it with oil. The food products are carefully placed into that oil. The pan is placed on top of a metal grid. Pacioli recommends careful usage to keep the paper from rupturing.'



Chapter 3 of Book XVI of a latin version of De Secretis by Johannes Jacob Wecker, which was published in 1582, makes reference to cooking in a folded paper frying pan. The first paragraph is headed 'Ut pisces charta frigantur', roughly, 'To fry fish on paper' and the beginning of the first sentence reads 'Ex charta simplici frixorum vas efformato', roughly, 'Form a simple frying pan from paper'.



There is mention of frying fish in a Paper Pan in 'Magiae Naturalis' by Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615), the first four books of which were published in Latin in Naples in 1558 and which was gradually expanded to twenty books by 1584.

(From Chapter X of Book 14 - Of Cookery)

The Latin says, 'Having fashioned a frying pan out of paper ...'



'Maravillas de naturaleza, en que se contienen dos mil secretos de cosas naturales' by Manuel Ramirez de Carrion, which was published in 1629 contains the following passage:

In Spanish, 'Papel formado a manera de bonete, puesto con aseite sobre las brasas, o llama de una vela se pueden freir en el huevos, y pescado, sin que se queme.'

In English, 'Eggs, and fish can be fried in paper formed as a bonnet, placed with oil on the coals, or a candle flame, without burning.'

The reference to Vuecher Lib XVI cap 3 is to De Secretis by Johann Jacob Wecker (see above).



'Physiologia Epicuro-Gassendo-Charltonia' by Walter Charleton, published in 1654, also mentions a simple pan made of paper.

Towards the foot of page 299 the text reads, 'And from the same Cause is it, that a sheet of the finest Venice Paper,if so folded upwards in its Margines, as to hold Oyle infused into it, and laid upon a gridiron over burning coals, doth endure the flame without inflammation for a good space: Which some Cooks observing, use to fry Bacon upon a sheet of paper only.'



An English translation of 'Magiae Naturalis', under the title of 'Natural Magick', and giving the author's name as John Baptista Porta, was published in London in 1658.



'Onomatologia curiosa artificiosa et magica oder ganz natürliches Zauber-lexicon', which was published in 1759 contains two references to Paper Pans:

Column 240

Columns 577/8



Book 3 of 'Neuer Wunder-Schauplatz der Kunste' by Johann Heinrich Moritz von Poppe, which was published in Stuttgart in 1839, describes how to 'Fry a waffle in a small paper pan'.


In Baking


The earliest evidence for the use of folded paper trays in baking that I am aware of comes from this painting by the French painter Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744 to 1818) which can be dated to 1769. I learned of the existence of this painting from Peter Strouvelle.


The Patisserie Box - 1889 onwards



The Junk Box appears as 'El molde para mantecadas' (The mold for shortbread) in 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero was published by 'Ediciones Infancia' in Valladolid in 1939.



Another version of a 'Caja Mantecadas', this time a Basic Box, appeared in 'Una Hoja de Papel', which was published by Miguel A Salvatella in Barcelona in 1952,