While cooking and baking certainly have their similarities, there’s an art to baking that can only be learned hands on. Understanding how to bake requires a fundamental understanding of all cooking methods. Sure, most recipes are created from a base of flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and butter—but it’s how, when, and in what order you combine them that makes all the difference between a mediocre birthday cake and a mouthwatering, restaurant-worthy chiffon.
Like any other discipline, baking is a lot easier with the right tools. We can’t turn you into a master baker overnight, but we can help you find great equipment to get you to the next level. Let’s take a look at some baking essentials that any good baker needs to keep at the ready.
Measuring Cups & Spoons
Measuring is perhaps the most important part of baking—which is why a good set of cups and spoons is of utmost importance. To stand up to the perils of a hot and steamy kitchen, you can’t go wrong with stainless steel. Built to last, it won’t melt or deform if you accidentally leave it exposed to heat or flame. Cups and spoons with less common measurements are great to have for those special recipes. Don’t forget to level off your ingredients before adding!
There are lots of different ways to mix—folding, creaming, stirring, beating, etc.—but regardless of the method you choose, you’ll need a sturdy bowl. Generally, heavy bowls with a solid base make great companions, as they won’t move around on you during the mixing process. You’ll also want a variety of sizes for mixing wet and dry ingredients in different stages.
Sifters help remove clumps and chunks in dry ingredients; nobody wants to find a pocket of flour in their fresh-baked brownie. Look for a sifter with a comfy handle and a dishwasher-safe construction to make cleanup a little easier. Side note: If you want to take a load off, let your kids tackle sifting. They tend to have fun with it!
Typically used for batters and sauces, whisks come in handy more often than you might think. A balanced whisk is best: one that’s sturdy enough to scrape the bottom of the bowl and break up any chunks, but flexible enough to whip air into the batter without too much wrist action. When whisking, you’ll want to use one direction for continuity. Of course, the handle is key, so get one that feels natural.
Spatulas come in all shapes and sizes. There are compact, plastic spatulas; long, silicone spatulas with removable heads; turners; slotted lifters; and more. The most important thing in selecting one is control. We recommend firm spatulas with a one-piece design that won’t deform over time. Make sure yours doesn’t scrape your mixing bowl or damage delicate doughs and batters.
You don’t need a mixer, but it makes things quite a bit easier if you’re baking for larger groups. Stand mixers with multiple speeds and settings are ideal because you can adjust them for each recipe. Hand mixers can be heavy, making them harder to maneuver, but they tend to be less expensive. Whatever you go for, make sure it has an accessible on/off switch (not all do!) so you don’t end up with batter all over the walls.
Baking Pans & Sheets
The two main things to consider when choosing baking pans and sheets are materials and nonstick coating. The most economical choice—used for generations—is single-ply aluminum without nonstick coating. With this construction, you’ll want to use a cooking spray or layer of parchment paper to prevent sticking. If you prefer something a little more durable, go for a more robust material (like stainless steel) or something made with multiple layers and an aluminum core for more even heating.
Different cultures have different ideas about how a rolling pin should look, but the biggest factor is comfort. Whether you choose an American-style pin with two defined handles or a French pin with a tapered single-piece body, it’s gotta feel right and work effectively—because when a rolling pin can’t live up to those standards, everything it touches becomes a chore.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which tools work best for you, but we hope this post provides some guidance. Stay plugged into the Baking Community for more helpful tips, great products, and discussion with fellow bakers around the world. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, add them to the discussion below.
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