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Welcome to KGB in Wanderland’s Baking Tutorial Series!
We’re starting this series by talking about the essential baking tools and equipment you need to help you learn how to bake.
Truth be told, baking is not exactly a cheap skill to learn. It took me a while before I finally have a decent set of baking and decorating tools, and even then, they always come up with new tools that I just want to get my hands on. Not to mention the cost of baking ingredients especially if you want to go into specialty baking.
But the rewards you get from baking are so worth it. For many, including me, it’s a stress-reliever and a venue for creativity. You can even start your own business and make a living out of your hobby. But the most rewarding feeling of all is the smile on people’s faces when I serve them their favorite dessert.
Whether you want to learn baking as a hobby or you eventually want to start a baking business of your own, you need to know the tools you need and are absolutely necessary. You don’t have to get everything on this list all at once but you’ll eventually want to invest in these items if you are serious about mastering this craft.
10 Essential Kitchen Tools for Beginner Bakers
Some of you may already have a built-in oven in your kitchen (lucky you!), but for those who are just starting out or has small apartment space (like me), you may want to invest in a good countertop oven. There are settings to bake, broil and roast. It pretty much does what a regular oven could do, only at a much smaller scale.
2. Measuring Cups and Spoons
Baking requires precision when it comes to measuring your ingredients. You can’t simply add and reduce your ingredients as you go. What makes baking different from cooking savory food is that you have to be precise in measuring ingredients all the time. You can’t just eyeball the amount of flour or sugar to use. The end result will be a disaster.
Nice to have: Most recipes in books or online are measured using cups and spoons, but occasionally you would find recipes measured in grams. These are standardized recipes and I like using such recipes because it is more accurate and it is easy to adjust the volume. You’ll need a good digital scale with multiple units to use those recipes.
3. Baking Sheets and Pans
There are many different types, sizes and make of baking pan so let me go through each:
Baking Sheets: Use this for cookies. You would need at least two baking sheets to save time and electricity (or gas) during baking. The most common size is 10×13 but most countertop ovens will only fit 9×13 sheet pans.
You can choose aluminum, silicone, stainless steel but the best type to use for home bakers is non-stick.
4. Wire Whisk or Hand-Held Mixer
Some recipes would require aeration of ingredients such as eggs or whipped cream and without a whisk, it would not be possible. Although most whisking functions can be performed using a regular wire whisk, a hand-held mixer is much more efficient, time-saver and your arm muscle will thank you too!
Nice to have: Stand mixers are the kings of the pastry kitchen. My Kitchen Aid mixer is my most favorite baking equipment, definitely worth every penny spent!
5. Mixing Bowls
You can use any bowls or small cups in your kitchen to hold small quantities of ingredients but you need at least two big-sized bowls for mixing batters. I would suggest getting a big mixing bowl and two medium-sized ones.
Also, it’s better to use a stainless mixing bowl compared to plastic so you don’t risk scraping the bowl so hard that it tends to chip and mix into your batter.
6. Flour Sifter
Recipes would usually call for your dry ingredients to be sifted to break down the lumps. Regular kitchen strainers can be used as well but for sanitary reasons, use a flour sifter (or tamis) that’s exclusive for baking.
And despite the name, flour isn’t the only thing you can use it for. You can also use it to sift other dry ingredients like cocoa powder and even sugar.
Don’t buy one of those hand-held flour sifters. It’s time-consuming to use and your hands will feel sore after sifting a few cups of flour. Get the regular sifters like the one above.
7. Icing Spatula
If you’re already baking, why not make the frosting from scratch too! The secret to that smooth buttercream frosting finish is an offset or angled spatula and lots of practice! It’s handy to keep a short and long offset spatula in your toolkit.
A flat or straight spatula is one of the most useful baking tools you can have. Use it to frost and lift cakes, smooth the edges of your frosting and even cut your cake.
8. Piping Bag and a Tip
I prefer using disposable piping bags for sanitary reasons. It’s cheap so it’s easy to replace. A couple of open star piping tips should also help you get started with cake decorating.
Nice to have: This set of Russian piping tips are all the rage now because all you need is a good buttercream recipe and use this to pipe instant flowers on your cake. No advanced skills required
9. Mixing Spatula
Batters need to be mixed and sometimes a wire whisk is not the right tool for the job (especially for folding airy batters). Silicone mixing spatulas are great because it’s flexible and heat-resistant.
For scraping the bottom of mixing bowls, I prefer to use a bowl scraper. It does the job so well.
10. Wax Paper, Aluminum Foil and Cling Wrap
These are three things that I tend to forget when I grocery-shop for baking supplies but are just as important as the rest of your baking tools.
Wax Paper: Use good quality wax paper so that your baked goodies don’t stick to the pan. If you can find a wax paper that’s specifically designed for baking, all the better. It’s much easier to peel off compared to regular kitchen wax paper. No extra layer of greasing needed.
Aluminum Foil: I normally use cake rings instead of cake pans and because there’s no bottom, you would need aluminum foil to line the cake ring. This works best especially if you are baking a cheesecake or layering a mousse cake as it is easy to unmold the cake from the ring. Aluminum foil can also be used to cover your cake batter or flan to prevent browning of the top.
Nice to have: No need to worry about not greasing your baking sheet enough that your cookie sticks. Silpats are non-stick silicone baking mats that are reusable, easy to clean and last a long time.
I hope you find this post helpful if you are just starting out. Next in the series, I’ll be talking about the basic ingredients you need to have in your baking pantry.