By Savini Gauri
Good quality and appropriate baking tools can give you beautiful results like these!
Most of us have tried our hands at baking, even if it is just once. Some people must have kept away from baking for ages but then this darn pandemic tipped those people over to the baking side too!
I've been baking for way over a decade now. I have been through my fair share of baking tools and equipment over these years. You can even say enough tools for a few lifetimes. (I think that makes me a credible person to talk about it). I understand what tools a baker (or non-baker or beginner) actually needs and what is just riff-raff in the kitchen that just looks pretty and solves no purpose (I've owned my fair share of those too).
Before we get started, let’s review my top 5 basic baking tips:
Measure! Measure! Measure!. Never bake without measuring your ingredients. Baking is first a science, then anything else. Plus measuring helps you get consistent results.
Temperature is KEY. Whether it is the temperature of your oven, or the butter, or the eggs being used. Follow the temperature guidelines correctly. Also, make sure if the recipe calls for room temperature ingredients, then your ingredients must be at room temperature.
Ignore the specified baking time. Every place, person, kitchen, and oven are different. Maybe it's hotter where I am. Maybe your kitchen is colder. Just IGNORE the baking time in every recipe (it's usually just a yardstick). Simply look at the final product and decide. decide based on what is in front of you.
Keep the oven closed. If you don't have to change racks or turn anything, never open the oven in the middle of baking. It causes all the heat to escape creating a sudden change in temperature resulting in an uneven bake.
Read the WHOLE recipe before you begin. Make it a habit. Go through the whole recipe and ensure you understand all the steps properly and have all the ingredients available. It's a total bummer if you realize mid-process that you are short of something.
Here I present to you 14 baking tools that can change the way you work in a home kitchen (and not just for baking). If you’re a new baker looking to stock up your kitchen, or setting up your first kitchen (congrats!), or an experienced baker interested in trying different products or brands, this list is for you.
1. MEASURING CUPS & SPOONS
My top pick: Set of 10 Measuring Cups and Spoons. Everybody does not like to measure and cook everything. However, the convenience they provide when it comes to just collecting ingredients is just incredible. They help you prepare or take out all your ingredients without making a mess. Plus once you start measuring your basic ingredients like flour, water, grains, etc. there is no looking back. Make sure the cups you buy have a good grip and the smallest cup is 1/8 cup (the most underrated and overused one). It’s convenient to have all different sizes depending on the recipe you are making.
Forget measuring things, it's perfect to measure and make cookies to even pour pancake batter or cupcake batter.
2. A VARIETY OF SPATULAS & WHISKS
My top pick: Silicone Spoon, Whisk, and Spatula Set. These are the equivalents of hair ties in your regular life. You can never have enough. These work like magic. If you are a fan of zero-waste kitchens spatulas and whisks are a must-have. They're like magic wands. These spatulas help you mix anything even if it is on the stove or clean out bowls, pots, and pans as if there was never any food in them. Also, Silicone spatulas don’t heat up as metallic spoons do. Neither do they start disintegrating like wooden spoons and spatulas. They are a must-have for the sheer convenience and efficiency they provide As for whisks, this is a no-brainer! Any that you purchase, just make sure they are quality. I’ve broken plenty of flimsy little whisks while trying to whisk heavy cake batters.
3. MIXING BOWLS
My top pick: Set of Glass Mixing Bowls. It'll be crazy if I start listing all the mixing bowls I have. All I can say is get glass bowls that are microwave safe. They don't wear out and can even last you a lifetime (if you don't end up breaking them). Try to get the multi-size packs so that they can solve any purpose. From melting a few pieces of chocolate to whipping up a huge batch of meringue. If you doubt your ability to take care of glass bowls then opt for steel mixing bowls like these.
4. KITCHEN WEIGHING SCALE
My top pick: Multipurpose Portable Electronic Digital Weighing Scale. You know I’m a stickler for weighing ingredients! That’s why I list all my baking recipes in cups and(or) grams. Why do we measure this way? Because a gram is always a gram. A cup is NOT always a cup. We know that baking is part science and in baking, precision is everything and that slight mismeasure could easily spell baking disaster. If you’re someone who doubts their instincts a lot while cooking, this tool is for you. A small kitchen scale is the most used tool in my kitchen. I recommend it to every single baker.
5. OVEN MITTS/GLOVES
My top pick: Non-Slip Oven Mittens with Grip. We've all burnt our hands while cooking, baking, or just by being present in the kitchen (and watching someone else work). Having oven mitts even if you don’t own an oven is a very smart decision. You will think of it when you burn your hands just trying to get a grip of your iron-cast pot or are simply draining the boiling hot water while emptying your pasta into a colander. They are handy and helps you keep your fingers NOT burnt.
6. ROLLING PIN
My top pick: Sturdy Marble Rolling Pin. An obvious must. It can be used for rolling out pie dough and sugar cookie dough. And it’s very inexpensive. If you don't bake, it can be used to crush nuts or even as a cheap substitute for a meat tenderizer. And if you suddenly plan to start cooking Indian cuisine this will be your life-saver.
7. HAND MIXER
My top pick: Kitchen Aid 5 Speed Hand Mixer. I use my hand mixer more than my stand mixer. If you can afford both, definitely get both. But you can survive without a stand mixer. On the other hand, a hand mixer saves you a lot of muscle work. And the best part? You can buy a dozen hand mixers for the price of one good stand mixed. For beginner bakers, a hand mixer is perfect. Completely affordable and of fantastic quality. I’ve had mine for years. And you know how much I use that thing!
8. SILICONE BAKING MATS
My top pick: Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat. These mats were a life-changing discovery for me. And at the cost of sounding crazy, baking paper is great, but silicone baking mats give a better product (assuming you followed the recipe properly) why not bake and cook with something reusable? And something that lays flat on the baking tray. It can be used for everything from baking cookies to roasting vegetables, to toasting nuts to even pouring hot toffee or caramel. It's like a magic mat. The bottoms of my cookies are always evenly baked and they slide right off the mat. Who doesn't like that, right?
9. COOKIE SCOOPS
My top pick: Set of 3 Stainless Steel Cookie Scoops. You will say these are to make perfectly sized cookies. But who makes cookies so frequently? Duhh!! Well, I'm proud to admit I do. But the use of cookie scoops is not limited to just scooping cookies. I have these in all sizes. The large ones can be used to scoop pancake batter, muffin batter mashed potatoes, and ice cream. The medium ones are perfect for cookies. And I use the small ones for chocolate truffles, ganache inserts, mini cookies, and even as a melon baller. They’re super handy.
10. PASTRY BRUSH
My top pick: Silicone Brush Set. You will thank me later for this one. From brushing off excess dry flour to simply basting meats on the barbecue or even putting egg wash on your bread and pies, it is amazing. It helps you evenly spread anything with the added benefit of efficiency. What may otherwise require a few teaspoons of oil or butter for applying on your pans using a spoon or even your hands, using this brush will help you be done in way less than that.
11. BAKING PANS
I will write a separate post about this. But for now, I've linked a few.
I recommend at least: 1 9-inch cake pan OR a multi-size set (for regular cakes), 1 9-inch square pan (for brownies and blondies), 1 12-count muffin pan (because who doesn't like muffins), 1 9-inch tart tin (for all sorts of tarts, pies, and crumbles), 1 flat baking tray (for cookies, and I don't mean the one that comes with the oven), 1 9×5 inch loaf pan (for all kinds of bread). These are a few of the ones I use most often. I really need to write a detailed article on this soon.
12. BENCH SCRAPER OR BENCH KNIFE
My top pick: Multi-Purpose Stainless Steel Scraper and Cutter. A bench scraper has many uses from lifting your dough to cutting your dough or even butter. But the most satisfying use it has is for cleaning your kitchen tables. You can get a squeaky clean countertop by gently applying some soapy water on your counter and cleaning it off with a bench scraper collecting all the dirty water in any container to avoid spilling it on the floor.
13. COOLING RACKS
My top pick: Nonstick Wire Cooling Rack. Never let your cookies, cakes, muffins, etc cool in the pan set on the counter. The bottom part's cooling rate is way slower than the rest because no air is getting to the bottom of the pan. Always use cooling racks, especially for cookies. Nobody likes a cookie with a soggy bottom. They MUST cool on racks. Never on the baking tray. Cooling racks are very important so that the cooking process stops and your baked goods cool evenly. Cooling racks also help in creating an extra rack on your countertop or even in your fridge or freezer. So it's a win-win if you own them.
14. A REUSABLE PIPING BAG AND PIPING TIP
My top pick: Reusable Silicone Piping Bag with Tips. I recommend this because it makes everything look fancy. Even if it means piping out mashed potatoes or deviled eggs. It amps up the look of your food with very little effort. Because who doesn’t like fancy mashed potatoes! Also, as I mentioned before that if it's reusable then why not? It saves on a lot of single-use piping bags that get thrown away. Just think about the number of piping bags you use every time you make a single dessert or cake.
Happy Baking and Cooking!
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Question: What are some of your favorite baking tools? To me, discussing baking supplies is like discussing fashion with fashion-obsessed people.