I have been baking for a long time (since I was a kid). It's what I am most passionate about because of the joy it brings me and the people around me. Even though it is a science, it can be considered an art as it is comforting, brings many smiles and produces something tangible that you can savor. It definitely takes patience to create these works of art but the rewards are unmatched.
There are a lot of techniques that go into baking and to help execute them to create even the most basic baked goods there are general baking equipment that I would suggest every baker stock in their kitchen (to read my 7 tips to be a better baker click here). There is nothing fancy about any of these baker's tools, but they will help set you up for success. And if you love baking frequently I would highly recommend these items. I have collected a lot of baking tools through the years, but these items are my most tried-and-tested tools.
1. Kitchen Scale
Baking is a science and therefore requires precision. There is no better way to be precise when it comes to ingredients than with a kitchen scale. In professional baking recipes, all ingredients are measured by weight! It's much easier to scale recipes larger or smaller and it helps to reduce the margin of error for measuring ingredients. I like to include both metric and US measurements in my recipes (as I do not assume everyone owns a kitchen scale, but I highly recommend it!). The most convenient kitchen digital scale is one that has the ability to convert to metric measurements. Additionally, ensure the scale's maximum weight capacity is sufficient for your needs (I recommend kitchen scales have the capacity of 11 lbs ).
2. Oven thermometer
Oven temperature is critical to creating perfectly baked goods. And because no two ovens are identical (theoretically speaking), an oven thermometer is one of the most important baker's tools. They are inexpensive and will ensure that your oven is heating to the proper temperature and let you know if you need to recalibrate your oven.
3. Dry measuring cups
When following a recipe that is in US measurements, you will want to use measuring cups for dry ingredients and semisolid ingredients (such as yogurt and peanut butter). Metal measuring cups can be the most precise as they allow for you to easily level ingredients using a straightedge such as the back of knife.
4. Liquid measuring cup
Measuring liquids should be done in clear liquid measuring cups so that you can read measurements at eye level for accuracy. A spout makes it ideal for pouring. I have several liquid measuring cups in a variety of sizes, but I highly recommend having at least one 1-cup liquid measuring cup on hand.
5. Measuring spoons
Measuring spoons are essential to measuring smaller amounts of ingredients accurately. Always level dry ingredients with a straightedge and measure liquid ingredients (such as extracts) to the rim of the spoons.
6. Mixing bowls
I am constantly washing my mixing bowls. They get used for all my recipes. Select ones that are heat proof (such as glass or stainless-steel bowls) which can be used for recipes that call for a double boiler (one bowl brownies).
7. Flexible spatula
Select spatulas that have silicone heads over rubber ones as the silicone is more resistant to high temperatures. I always have a variety of sizes as they can come in handy depending on what I am making. Be sure to have more than one on hand to avoid having to constantly wash them while baking a recipe.
8. Pastry blender
This baker's tool is very useful for making doughs that require cutting butter into flour (all butter pie dough, tart doughs, biscuits and scones). Properly cutting butter into the flour is a critical step for these types of recipes. It can make or break your final product. A pastry blender is in expensive, stores easily and a must!
9. Rolling pin
Select a wood rolling pin without handles as this will give you the most control when rolling out dough. With this kind of rolling pin you naturally place your hands closer to the center. Applying pressure at this position allows for better maneuverability. When I make decorated sugar cookies (such as pumpkin spice sugar cookies), I like to use a wooden rolling pin with removable rings to roll out my dough to achieve the exact desired thickness. This allows me to create a perfectly level cookie dough for cutting out cookies that bake evenly.
10. Pastry brushes
Pastry brushes can come very handy in a variety of ways. I always keep three sizes on hand. A small brush for applying egg wash to small pieces of dough, a medium brush for applying egg wash to pie crusts (like in my blueberry apple pie) and greasing cake pans, and a large brush for cleaning floured work surfaces and rolled-out dough. The large brush I only use with dry ingredients to keep the bristles intact. Select pastry brushes that have natural bristles.
11. Parchment paper
Parchment paper not only makes it easier to remove baked goods from their pans (think cakes and cookies) but it also makes cleanup much easier. Cut-out cookie dough and pie crust can be rolled on parchment paper. Additionally, you can slide parchment paper just under the edges of a cake to prevent the cake board from getting greasy while icing a cake. Look for natural parchment paper.
12. Rimmed sheet pans
These come in a variety of sizes. I always 3/4 sheet sized (15"x 21") pans for baking items such as cookies and pastries. They are large enough that I can fit more cookies than a standard sized baking sheet pan. For shortbread, sponge cakes and bar cookies I use my jelly roll pan. Look for sheet pans that are heavy duty, shiny aluminum pans as this type of material will bake more evenly.
13. Wire cooling rack
Raised wire racks allow air to fully circulate around cooling baked goods. Select stainless-steel racks with feet on the bottom and make sure its the mesh kind and not the cooling racks that only have bars running parallel to each other.
14. Metal spatula
A metal spatula is the best tool for transferring cookies and pastries from hot baking sheets to a wire rack to cool.