November 28, 2009

Baking Essentials 101

Just in time for the holidays, a list of equipment and tools that any baking enthusiast would love.

I'm not being paid to endorse any of these items; these are just things I've found I can't live without in my 25+ years of baking so be assured these have all been thoroughly tested.  I've included links to amazon to help you get started.  Unless I've mentioned a particular brand, buy whichever one you can afford.   Most of this stuff can be bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond..don't forget to use their 20% off coupons..even on the Kitchen-Aid mixer!

Baking arsenal in my pantry at home

  • Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer: If you're even somewhat serious about baking, this is an absolute must and a real kitchen workhorse.  It's definitely an investment, but it will last forever.  I remember the day my parents brought home a Kitchen-Aid in the early 80s and to this day it still works like a charm.   As for which model to buy, get the one that fits your needs.  If you're only an occasional baker don't go for the Professional series, get the Classic instead. 
  • Food Processor:  A processor is a great tool for making pastry dough for pies and tarts and also for chopping nuts.  I sometimes use the food processor to make cake frostings.  They normally come with different blades for slicing and grating as well.

  • Taylor Oven ThermometerUnless your oven is properly calibrated (most aren't) get this to ensure correct temperature.
  • Polder Kitchen Timer:  Easy peasy to use and has a string so you can wear it around your neck if you need to leave the kitchen.
  • Half Sheet Baking Pans:  Used primarily for cookies, but many other uses as well.  Don't bother buying the nonstick ones; just use parchment paper.  Any standard half sheet pan (should measure 13" x 18") will do so don't buy the fancy schmancy ones.  I have a bunch that I got from Costco that were cheap as chips and they work great.  You should have at least two of these pans, especially if you're making cookies.
  • Parchment Paper: A must, must have for any type of baking.  Most people rave about the silicone baking mats like Silpat, but I prefer parchment.  I always line half sheet pans with parchment paper so that things don't stick.  If I'm making a lot of cookies I don't need to dirty a lot of pans because I just use a new sheet of parchment with each batch.  Makes clean up a breeze as well.  They sell parchment in rolls at the supermarket but because I bake so much I buy pre-cut half-sheet pan size ones in a box of 1,000. 
  • Mixing Bowls:  I like the nesting ones that come in stainless steel and glass.  Does double-duty as a bain marie. 
  • Silicone Rubber Spatula:  The utensil I use most often in baking for scraping, folding, mixing.  Buy several of these because they are indispensible.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Pyrex Liquid Measuring Cup: To be used specifically for liquid ingredients.  
  • Wire Whisk
  • Metal Cake Pans
    • 9 x 13 Rectangle: For bar cookies (brownies, lemon bars) and cake
    • 9" or 8" Round: Either size will do, but you need at least 2
    • Loaf: For quick breads like pumpkin or banana bread
    • Muffin:  For cupcakes and muffins
  • Metal Ice Cream Scoops: I have these in different sizes and use them to portion out cookie dough so they are uniform in size.    Also great for cupcakes and muffins.
  • French Tapered Wood Rolling Pin:  This style is more agile than the traditional rolling pin. 
  • Wire Cooling Rack: I like the kind that fit perfectly in a half sheet pan.
  • Mesh Strainer:  For sifting dry ingredients and straining cooked creams
  • Microplane Grater:  Zesting citrus fruits, grating chocolate, cheese
  • Cookie Cutters


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11/29/2009

    Do not purchase a Kitchen-Aid Mixer in white or almond. The paint will discolor over time. Also, buy a second mixer bowl, paddle, and whip if you are a serious baker.

    Sac TDL


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