If you want that perfectly golden, flaky pie crust, the caramelized top on a crème brulee or the many fluffy layers of a croissant, you’re going to need a few things. First, you need the right equipment. Next, you need the right recipes. Lastly, you need the right tools. Back in the days, people mostly just had bowls, whisks and their hands. They had simple but effective tools. There is so much technology nowadays. I know I sounded a lot older than I am with that sentence, but it’s true. It’s easier than ever for amateurs and novices to produce quality pastries and baked goods from the comfort of their own home. The key is having the right tools. That’s half the battle. These are items I use at home and at school every time I bake. They really make my job easier and they will help you every time in the kitchen if you have them around as well. Here are my ten essential baking tools (in no order):
A small, but mighty tool. I constantly am using my thermometer in the pastry kitchen. Many recipes request exact temperatures. I highly suggest you invest in one. I bought mine for about seven dollars, so you have no excuse not to get one. Whenever you’re making macrons, ice cream, Swiss buttercream and many other things, you’re going to need one to use.
9. Disposable pastry bags
I definitely recommend having some disposable pastry bags lying around. A regular pastry bag will work fine for many applications, but a lot of times, I just feel lazy. I don’t feel like cleaning the pastry bag every time I use it. I’d rather just throw it away. That’s where these disposable bags come in handy. Also, I like using it for chocolate drizzle, because I can use it in the microwave. Bottom line is they’re easier to use and much cleaner than its canvas counterpart.
This one is sort of self-explanatory. Baking is one part science, one part art and one part math. Part of that math includes measurements. You are constantly measuring things in a kitchen. It could be a baking sheet or a cake pan or a section of dough. The measuring is constant and needed for accuracy. I always keep a ruler or tape measure around, because I find that I always tend to need one especially when working with dough.
7. Offset Spatula
This pretty much applies to pallet knifes and off-sets. Off-sets get used when making tortes, cakes, ice cream and much more. You’ll use them to spread and smooth things out. You can use them to drizzle and to help stop any dripping. Of course, I use the bigger sized spatulas to lift things up as well.
Blowtorches are very useful in the pastry kitchen. They have many uses. The main one I use it for is to help in unmolding. But, of course, they are also used for caramelizing the tops of crème brulee and meringues. These are just a couple of examples. Always having one around is a good idea.
5. Rubber Spatula
Not much has to be said about the handy dandy rubber spat. I use it anytime I bake. You’ll always need this on hand no matter what you’re making.
4. Plastic Scraper/Bench Scraper
Okay, I couldn’t pick one, so I put them both on here. I think it’s equally important to have both in your tool kit. The plastic scraper can do what rubber spatulas can’t. If you’re using a big mixing bowl and you really want to get it all out, then go with the plastic scraper. They’re very cheap, but very useful. The bench scraper is also important to have. It’s essentially when working with any type of dough. Not only does it make the process of making dough easier, but it makes clean-up much easier as well. I scrape up all the big dough particles that remain and then clean the table.
3. Stand Mixer
I’m not sure if this really qualifies as a tool. I think it’s more classified under “equipment.” It’s okay though…we’ll roll with it. The stand mixer I have is by far the best investment I’ve ever made. It has saved me so much time over the years. It’s so easy to use and such a time saver. Instead of using different bowls, I can just dump ingredients into the mixing bowl and give it a whirl. My arms don’t get a workout and I’m free to walk around the kitchen focusing on other tasks. I love my stand mixer and if you haven’t converted from the hand mixer you have, I highly recommend you do so immediately.
2. Kitchen knives
Some people have the misconception that knives are only important to savory chefs. They couldn’t be more wrong. Good knives are very essential tools to have. If you have good quality knives and you take care of them, they’ll last you a lifetime. The investment is well worth it. The three knives I recommend are the French knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife. These are the three you will use most in a pastry kitchen. You’ll use them to cut dough or chop chocolate or peel and chop fruit. Knives are one of the most essential tools to have in your kitchen. Period.
1. Parchment Paper
This list isn’t in order of importance, so I hope you didn’t get that impression. Still, parchment paper is one my most essential tools. Why? Well, for one they’re such a time saver. The fact that you can put some parchment paper on the top of a baking sheet or cake pan and that will allow the product to come out easier is enough reason to use it. No more struggling to unmold a cake into one piece. Along with that, you don’t have to use a pastry bag for piping. Just make yourself a paper cone and you’re good to go. I also love to use parchment to sift my dry ingredients on. That way, I don’t have to use a bowl. I can just sift everything onto the parchment, dump the ingredients into the mixing bowl and throw the paper away. No mess, no fuss.
Hope you enjoyed, what are your most essential kitchen tools?
New recipe post on Tuesday!