Top 10 Must-Have Baking Tools
If you want to create the very best baked goods, there are some tools you really should consider purchasing. They will greatly improve the outcome of your recipes.
I was thinking of trying to order these in importance, but it really depends on what you are making, so consider this a randomly ordered list – EXCEPT for #1. Accurate measuring tools are REALLY important, no matter what you are baking or cooking.
1. High Quality Measuring Tools – precisely made dry and liquid measuring cups are some of the best investments you will ever make that will positively affect your baking. I recommend Cuisipro dry measuring cups and spoons and I like Catamount liquid measuring cups, which you can find through various sources on-line. I also use the classic Pyrex liquid measuring cups. You should note that as of 2011 Pyrex came out with some “read-from’above” style liquid measuring cups, but in an independent test, they were not as accurate as their older models. I seek out the older style on-line through ebay, etc.
2. Commercial Half-Sheet Pans – heavy-duty pans, typically 18 x 13 inches – used for cookie sheets, large batch brownies, sponge cakes, to protect the oven from dripping pies, as a tray to catch ingredients you are sprinkling on cakes or cookies, carrying ingredients from here to there….so many uses.
3. Parchment Paper – cut to fit to line cake pans, make parchment cones and of course, to line cookie sheet pans (half-sheet pans), making for easy clean up. It is also handy to sift dry ingredients onto it; you can then pick up the paper and pour ingredients into bowl or measuring cup.
4. Oven Thermometer – without an independent oven thermometer, you do not really know what temperature your oven is set to. Poorly calibrated ovens are pretty common and can wreak havoc with your baked goods. CDN makes several reliable ones; their MOT1 Multi-Mount Oven Thermometer is very highly recommended. It can hang from a rack, perch on a rack and also has a magnet.
5. Shot-glass Measuring Cup
This looks like a shot glass but it has measurements on it ranging from 1-teaspoon to 2 tablespoons and milliliters measurements as well. Very handy when measuring small amounts of liquid. You will wonder how you did without it. Crate & Barrel carries one called the Mini Measure.
6. Rubber or Silicone Spatula
OK in the old days we called these rubber spatulas (and many people still do) but nowadays most are made of silicone. Either way, these flexible spatulas scrape the last bits out of bowls and bottles, they fold delicate ingredients together and gently stir items in pots on top of the stove. The best tools are multi-purpose and these are some of the best. Many cooks have extra small ones and the standard sized ones; make sure to have extra large, too. They are perfect for folding sugar or flour into meringue for angel food cakes, dacquoise and more.
7. Icing Spatulas (offset and straight) – the “other” spatula for the baking kitchen.
They are inexpensive and it pays to have short versions and long, straight and offset. I use them to apply frosting to everything from tiny cupcakes to giant wedding cakes but they also smooth thick batter into pans with ease, creating an even layer for more even baking.
Whisks plural because different shapes do different things. A balloon whisk with a large round
9. Silicone Pastry Brush
Silicone transformed the pastry brush. The old-fashioned type with natural or nylon bristles not only shed but also held onto flavors and colors. If you used one for BBQ sauce or a strong curry, forget trying to use it for a delicate apricot glaze the next day, even after thorough washing. Silicone brushes clean up perfectly in the dishwasher, with no residual trace of flavors or pigment and do not shed! They come in various sizes, but for the pastry kitchen, look for ones with delicate “bristles” such as the one shown.
10. Bench Scraper
Ah, I love a simple tool that has multiple uses and simply gets the job done! Bench scrapers scoop up ingredients to transfer to bowls, aid in cutting brownies and bars and my favorite use is with clean up. When I have dusted my work surface with flour to roll out pastry, the bench scraper gets every last bit of flour and dough bits up off of the surface at the end. Especially if dough sticks to the surface, it is excellent at getting that up, too. If I have chopped nuts, the bench scraper not only scoops them up to add to my cookies, but then easily scrapes up all the little flakes and powdery bits of nuts left on my table. These are one of those items where once you have one handy, you will use it again and again.