My Top 10 Baking Tools
I thought it might be interesting to compile a list of my top ten baking tools. Okay, I'll admit, (almost) everything about baking is interesting to me. But I think this post could be interesting for you too. Or, even better, helpful. I use these ten baking tools all the time and consider them essentials for any baker.
With the exception of the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, all of these tools are pretty basic and affordable. Even if you only bake occasionally, I'd consider these utensils indispensable. Really. They're vital. Crucial. Critical. You NEED them. Now.
Browse through the photos to see which of these baking tools you already own and which items you should really consider purchasing.
1. Chef's knife
A chef's knife can be used for countless culinary purposes, but the item I chop most often with a chef's knife when it comes to baking is chocolate. Obviously. When baking, I prefer chopping up a bar of chocolate to using a bag of chocolate chips, especially when I'm making cookies, because I love the look of the uneven nuggets of chocolate in the cookies. Chopped chocolate just makes everything that much more photogenic. Also, I definitely don't mind the bigger chunks of chocolate I get in every bite.
2. Balloon Hand Whisk
I use a balloon hand whisk (or a rubber spatula, seen below) whenever I prepare a batter by hand instead of with a machine. This whisk works perfectly for things like pancake batter and cakes with oil and cookies that don't require creaming and icings and hitting people on the head.
A hand whisk is also ideal for whipping smaller portions of eggs or cream when you don't want to use a big electric beater.
3. Ice-Cream Scoopers
Ice-cream scoopers are not just handy for portioning out ice-cream. In fact, after using these scoopers solely for baking purposes for so long, I forgot that these scoopers were actually meant to be used for ice-cream. (Besides, who eats ice cream out of the tub with an ice cream scoop?? And who doesn't eat ice-cream out of the tub??)
So what do I use my scoopers for? I use my scoopers to evenly portion out cookie dough. I fill up my desired size ice-cream scoop with dough and then drop it onto the baking sheet. This gives me round, even balls of dough every time I make cookies.
4. DRY AND LIQUID MEASURING CUPS AND SPOONS
Baking, unfortunately, isn't like cooking where you can improvise and adjust ingredients to taste. Baking is more of an exact science with recipe ratios that need to be carefully measured. And to measure, you know what you need? Measuring tools! Proper ones. Liquids should be measured in liquid measuring cups and solids should be measured in dry measuring cups. With measuring spoons, you get a break - the spoons can be used for both solids and liquids. Yay.
5. Rubber spatulas
I use my rubber spatulas for everything - stirring, mixing, scraping, folding, etcetera. Rubber spatulas can withstand very high temperatures, mix virtually everything fabulously, and magically scrape every last drop of batter from your bowl.
So, with features like minimal waste + maximal functionality, a rubber spatula is probably my favorite kitchen tool.
6. kitchen scale
I'm going to mention chocolate again. Not because chocolate is awesome. Even though it is awesome. I'm mentioning chocolate because it's a food I weigh very often on my kitchen scale. Lots of times, a recipe will give you a chocolate amount in ounces instead of cups. Enter my trusted kitchen scale. Also, some recipes I follow use only weight measurements. Other common items I like to weigh to ensure I get the measurements right? Butter, nuts, eggs, and portions of dough (to braid challah evenly).
7. Straight and offset metal spatulas
Ever wonder how people get perfectly frosted layer cakes? Straight and offset metal spatulas.
A straight metal spatula is great for spreading frosting on the sides of a cake, and an offset (angled) metal spatula is good for the top of the cake and for tough to reach spots. A metal spatula is also ideal for spreading delicate batters, like a sheet cake that needs to be spread very gently to prevent whipped eggs from deflating.
8. pastry bags and piping tips
Even if you're not a master cake decorator, pastry bags and piping tips always come in handy.
Cupcake with frosting smeared on with a spatula = meh.
Cupcake piped with frosting that was placed into a decorating bag with a start tip = professional.
Grab a pastry bag and some basic tips to start with (I use circle and star tips most often), and your possibilities are endless.
9. metal mixing bowls
My metal mixing bowls serve two purposes. Their first purpose is for mixing things. Cuz things are usually mixed in bowls. The second purpose for the metal bowls is to have them serve as double boilers. No need to buy a fancy two-pot double boiler set. Instead, use any pot you own for the bottom and then place a metal bowl on top of it. Ta-da - Double boiler! Use these next time you need to melt chocolate on a double boiler. (Yep, I'm mentioning chocolate yet again. Cuz CHOCOLATE.)
10. Kitchen aid stand mixer
Believe it or not, up until this year, the only machine I owned for baking purposes was a food processor. And I used it for everything. Even creaming dough and making frostings. And you know what? My food processor worked great for virtually everything. But then I got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer as a gift when I graduated pastry arts school. And OMG. BEST GIFT EVER! I love, love, love it.
My Kitchen Aid (above) is a 5 QT. artisan mixer in lavender. It seems to be the perfect size for me; it can hold a lot of batter/dough but isn't too huge. And it's lavender. Which makes it even more amazing. Again, best gift ever! Thanks Mom!