Baking Essentials: Tools of the Trade

Along with the right ingredients, having the right kitchen tools on hand is essential to your success in the kitchen. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of tools that I use on a regular basis; please keep in mind that you certainly do not need to have all of these things in order to make beautiful baked things. I also tend to not buy highly specialized items that only have one use in my kitchen – my ramekins double as bakeware and small bowls; a saucepan + metal mixing bowl makes an excellent double boiler, etc.

What other tools do you consider required in the kitchen?

Bakeware

  • Baking sheets – quarter sheet and half sheet sizes 
  • Baking stone
  • Cake pans, round – I have two of each of most sizes, from 6″ to 12″ rounds
  • Cake pans, square & rectangle – I have two of each of most sizes, from 6″ to 12″ squares, as well as a 9 x 13″ rectangular pan
  • Cooling racks – you can’t have too many of these!
  • Loaf pans – I have two, 1lb loaf pans (8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″)
  • Muffin tin – regular and jumbo, for baking muffins and cupcakes 
  • Pie dish
  • Pyrex baking pan 
  • Ramekins – I use my ramekins for baking individual servings often, and also use them to measure out ingredients before beginning a recipe.  Mise en place will make your baking adventures much more successful and enjoyable.
  • Roasting pan –  to use as a water bath when making cheesecake, custards, etc
  • Springform pan
  • Tart pan

Pots & Pans

  • Cast iron combo cooker – essential for baking bread with excellent crust
  • Saucepans – variety of sizes.  Ensure that you have at least one or two saucepan/metal mixing bowl combinations that fit together well to make your own double boiler
  • Skillets – variety of sizes

Small Appliances

  • Coffee grinder – I have two coffee grinders – one for, well, coffee, and the other is for grinding up fresh spices
  • Digital thermometer
  • Digital scale
  • Food processor
  • Oven thermometer – it’s essential to know your oven; an oven thermometer will help to ensure that when you have the oven set to 350F, it’s really at 350F.
  • Hand mixer – for very small jobs, a hand mixer may do a better job than a stand mixer
  • Stand mixer – I LOVE my 6-quart Kitchen Aid mixer, and at this point, I don’t think I could function without it.  A must, if you bake often / want to be able to multitask.

Utensils, etc

  • Apron – because baking can be messy!
  • Baking scoops – scoops come in a wide variety of sizes, from just a teaspoon to a cup or more.  Having a few on hand, in sizes that you’ll need most frequently, will help to ensure that all of your cookies, cupcakes, etc are all the same size (and will therefore bake evenly)
  • Bench scraper
  • Cake lifter 
  • Cake heating cores – for baking large cakes
  • Cake turntable 
  • Cheesecloth – helpful when you need to strain whole ingredients from a liquid, for instance, when infusing cream with coffee beans, ginger, etc
  • Cookie cutters – various shapes and sizes, including plain and fluted rounds and squares
  • Cutting boards
  • Cupcake baking cups
  • Decorating tips & couplers
  • Kitchen shears
  • Knives – I believe that everyone should have a great set of knives, that are sharpened regularly. Sharp knives are much nicer to use than dull ones, and less dangerous. A long, serrated knife is essential when torting cakes,  and I also like to have a extra chef’s knife on hand for chopping chocolate.
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring cups, Pyrex – for measuring liquid ingredients
  • Measuring spoons 
  • Microplane zester
  • Mixing bowls
  • Offset spatulas – small and large 
  • Oven mitts – I like the type that cover most of your forearm; mine have saved my arms from many oven burns 
  • Parchment paper – instead of rolls, I buy pre-cut parchment in full sheet size
  • Pastry bags – I like to have disposable as well as washable pastry bags on hand
  • Pastry brush 
  • Pastry comb 
  • Pastry cutter
  • Pizza cutter – for trimming fondant from the base of a covered cake
  • Rolling pin
  • Silpats – non-stick baking mats
  • Spatulas
  • Strainer-sifter
  • Toothpicks – for testing cakes/cupcakes/etc.  No need for any fancy cake testers!
  • Whisks
  • Wooden spoons
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