25 + 1 Wayfair baking essentials

Baking essentials inside my vintage kitchenette | H is for Home

As regular readers will know, I’m an ex-chef and remain a keen baker. Over the years, I’ve discovered which kitchen tools and appliances are vital and which ones lie neglected, collecting dust at the back of a cupboard.

With the help of Wayfair’s huge range of kitchenwares, I thought I’d share with you what I consider to be my baking essentials.

Wayfair baking essentials: 'Tools' | H is for Home

Tools

  1. Dihl 5.5L stand mixer – The workhorse of the kitchen, it’s a must for those jobs that require buckets of elbow grease; whipping up egg whites, mixing sponge batter and kneading bread dough.
  2. Premier Plus/Superior 9-piece knife block set – Every cutting job has its own particular knife. A long serrated one for slicing loaves of bread, a paring knife for peeling And a block or wall-mounted magnetic strip is essential for keeping them safe & sharp. Knives in drawers is not advised!
  3. 6-piece kitchen tool with holder set – We have a pot of bamboo spoons and spatulas beside the stove… crucial!
  4. Hans dough scraper – Not only does this scraper get your bread dough out of your mixer bowl with ease and no sticky fingers, it gets every last drop of batter into your cake tin.
  5. Original silicone brush – I find a silicone brush much better than a traditional one with bristles which tend to shed and end up sticking to the top of your pastry.
  6. Boxwood rolling pin (50.8cm) – When it comes to rolling pins, the longer the better. Too short, and your pastry ends up with lines and grooves all over it – causing you to over-roll and possibly overwork it. No one likes overworked pastry!

Wayfair baking essentials: 'Tins' | H is for Home

Tins, pans & racks

  1. 12-hole muffin pan – I’m not a big cupcake maker, but I’m very partial to muffins… chocolate, blueberry, apple & cinnamon… mmmm… This one’s non-stick, so you won’t need paper muffin cases. And don’t forget you need something to cook those Yorkshire puddings!
  2. Non-stick springform cake tin set – Every serious baker should have both round and square cake tins. Springform tins are the best, they’re so much easier to get delicate and sticky cakes out of – I don’t bake cheesecakes in anything else!
  3. 32.5cm non-stick rectangle baking sheet – I love home-made biscuits and cookies with my afternoon cup of tea. This is the best thing for cooking them on – ditto meringues, macarons and nut brittle. Like the rolling pin, the bigger the better. The more cookies you can get on your baking sheet, the quicker you can get the entire batched cooked off. Just make sure the one you buy isn’t too wide to fit into your oven!
  4. 27.94cm x 43.18cm cooling rack – If you’re going to be baking, you need somewhere for things to cool. If you leave a cake in the tin too long, it will get soggy or stick to the sides & bottom making it difficult to remove… and Mary Berry won’t like your soggy bottom!

Wayfair baking essentials: 'Measures' | H is for Home

Measures

  1. Baking and candy digital thermometer – If you make jam, jelly or fudge a thermometer is vital. You can judge by eye or consistency, but a thermometer removes the guess work.
  2. Zing digital kitchen scales – I’m rubbish at approximating weights and volumes. Yes, I kind of know the weight of a bag of sugar… or a pint of milk. Some people can just toss flour, sugar, eggs and butter into a bowl, stick it in the oven and presto, a melt-in-the-mouth sponge cake is magically produced. I however, need to create or follow a recipe to the gram. These particular digital scales are great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has a function that allows you to weigh an ingredient and then zero the scale so you can add additional ingredients. Secondly, you can weigh as little as a gram and as much as 5 kilos – in gram increments. And lastly, they’re orange!
  3. Maison 4-piece metal measuring spoons set – A lot of the recipes I make I find on US food blogger websites. Their ingredients are invariably measured in cups and ‘sticks’ of butter. I used to spend AGES finding their metric equivalents. Now that I have measuring cups that’s a thing of the past. And, by the way, a stick of butter weighs 113 grams.
  4. Stainless steel 6-piece measuring spoon set – Do any of the teaspoons in your house actually hold exactly a teaspoon? How about your tablespoons? No, mine neither. A basic bit of kit for adding baking powder, bicarb, spices, cocoa, coffee, extracts, food colouring etc to your bakes.
  5. 2-hour kitchen timer – I NEVER put anything into the oven without switching on the kitchen timer. I have a memory like a goldfish. I get distracted by the slightest thing, and next thing I know there’s a burning smell coming from the stove-top or the oven. What I like about this one is that it counts down two hours. Lots of bread & cakes need a 1-hour+ bake.
  6. Alessi Twisted measuring jug – I love this measuring jug – it’s a jug with a ‘twist’! Instead of there being the usual gradation markings up the outside of the vessel, they’re on the inside… in a spiral… so you look down into the interior for a bird’s eye view of the volume. Brilliant!

Storage

  1. 2-piece glass mixing bowl set – I have lots of different sized mixing bowls depending on the job I’m doing. These glass mixing bowls get the thumbs up from me because they are perfect for bread making. You can keep an eye on how your prove is going without peering under the cover and, unlike most mixing bowls, they come with useful lids.
  2. Clip top 6-piece Kilner preserving jar set – I have clip-top Kilner jars in every size; from diddy ones that hold spices to jumbo ones that can hold a couple of packets of spaghetti. They’re so much easier to stack & store and look so much more attractive than a mish-mash of opened boxes, bags and packets.
  3. Coverblubber set – I go on all the time about hating waste. These coverblubbers are an ingenious invention. Not only do they cover part-used pieces of fruit & veg such as pineapple, melon, cucumber, onion and avocado; they can be stretched over bowls and jugs to store the food and drink within. Think of all the cling-film – and fruit & veg – you’d save over time!
  4. Cake stand – The only way to keep the cakes that you lovingly bake and ice is under a domed cake stand. We always have a home-made cake on the go; our cake stand has pride of place in the centre of the kitchen table.

Real bread-making

  1. Bread storage bag – If you take the time & effort to bake bread, you don’t want to spoil your loaves & rolls by storing them in a plastic bag. This inner-coated fabric bag is designed to keep your bread fresher for longer.
  2. Pizza peel (35.99cm) – A pizza peel my be for sliding your home-made pizzas into a hot oven. However, I use it for getting all my breads into the oven with ease – especially the wetter dough ones such as ciabatta.
  3. Home made round loaf proving basket – I have a round basket (or banneton) and an oval one. I use the round one perhaps twice as much as the latter as I sometimes use it in conjunction with my Le Cloche. If you make sourdough bread, you need a proving basket.
  4. Marble chopping board (46cm) – The secret to rolling and kneading successful pastry and dough is having a cold work surface (and hands). A top tip is having a large expanse of marble to work upon.
  5. Cast iron baking stone – Ideal for cooking bread products both on the stove-top and in the oven. Crumpets, Welsh cakes, all manner of flat-breads, crepes & pancakes and pizzas.

Textiles Union tea towel

And one last thing…

Textiles Union tea towels
Perhaps the most important of my baking essentials. I don’t know where I’d be without a pile of these! I use them for handling hot pans, covering proving bread, dusting down floury work surfaces, drying the washing up… oh, and putting out the occasional accidental fire!

What baking essentials could you not do without?

Robert Carrier cook box

Vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box with apples | H is for Home

We mentioned these Robert Carrier recipe cards in a blog post just the other day – then lo & behold, we come across a set. Isn’t the Op Art tin box great? There’s something very Mary Quant about it.

Vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box with apples | H is for Home

We’d guess that this particular set dates from the early 1970s. Inside the tin are held a large number of cards divided into the various categories. Robert Carrier was a big name in cooking at this time with TV shows and accompanying merchandise. His style was quite theatrical and camp. American by birth, his wealthy parents went bankrupt in the 1930s Depression. They had to dispense with their servants, but maintained their social life by preparing their own elaborate dinner parties. This was no doubt an influence on young Robert – as was his French grandmother who also taught him to cook.

Initially, he trained and toured as an actor, but also began submitting cookery articles to magazines. He got a big break when given a weekly column for the Sunday Times colour supplement. This brought him fame and celebrity which then led to the books, TV shows and restaurants.

Recipe cards from a vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box | H is for Home

These particular recipe cards are very much of their time – the actual dishes, presentation, serving suggestions and so on. They pack a punch on the colour front, that’s for sure. There’s certainly something of the ‘fancy’ 70s dinner party about them. Abigail’s Party springs to mind – sardine stuffed lemons to accompany the Demis Roussos perhaps!

'Sardine stuffed lemons' recipe card from a vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box | H is for Home

We’ll be putting them into our webshop soon, but drop us a line if you want first dibs – £22 for the tin and recipe cards.

Home-made tomato sauce

Home-made tomato sauce | H is for Home

Justin doesn’t normally get involved with the Thursday recipes – well, apart from taking the photos! However, this week, he’s actually done the cooking too. Don’t worry though, you’re in safe hands – as he was a chef for about 15 years before re-inventing himself as Mr H is for Home – and he does most of the savoury dishes in our household anyway.

Finely sliced garlic and olive oil in a saucepan | H is for Home Finely sliced garlic, tomato pureé and olive oil in a saucepan | H is for Home

We mentioned this lovely all-purpose tomato sauce in last week’s pizza post. Most people list tinned tomatoes in their store cupboard essentials, but we always have batches of this home-made tomato sauce in the fridge or freezer.

Home-made tomato sauce with basil | H is for Home

It’s quick – only taking about an hour – and very straightforward too.

Home-made tomato sauce being sieved through a colander | H is dfor Home Sieved home-made tomato sauce | H is for Home

It’s so flexible. The addition of ground black pepper and Parmesan makes for a simple yet delicious pasta sauce. It also provides the base for a myriad of other recipes. You can add all sorts of ingredients to it for some wonderful dishes – meatballs, chicken, fish, olives, roasted aubergines & peppers to name but a few. If you reduce it down and concentrate it a little further it makes the perfect tomato sauce for pizza topping. The recipe can be scaled up to suit requirements. You can also tweek quantities to suit your own taste – more garlicky, more olive oily etc… and add other herbs if you like too.

Storing home-made tomato sauce for freezing | H is for Home

We make up a batch of home-made tomato sauce every few weeks and put a couple of two-portion containers into the freezer – ready to grab as required.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Luxury home-made mincemeat
Ingredients
  1. 200g/7oz currants
  2. 200g/7oz raisins
  3. 200g/7oz sultanas
  4. 100g/3½oz dried cranberries
  5. 100g/3½oz figs, roughly chopped
  6. 100g/3½oz prunes, roughly chopped
  7. 30g/1oz blanched almonds*, roughly chopped
  8. 1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored & finely diced
  9. 300g/10½oz muscovado sugar
  10. 200g/7oz vegetable suet
  11. zest & juice of 1 lemon
  12. 3tsp mixed spice
  13. ½tsp cinnamon
  14. ¼tsp nutmeg
  15. 6tbsp rum or brandy
  16. 100g/3½oz butter, cubedHome-made mincemeat ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients except the alcohol into a large saucepan over a low heat
  2. Stir to ensure the contents are well combined and the suet and butter have melted (about 10 minutes)
  3. Allow to cool completely before stirring in the alcohol
  4. Decant into sterilised jam jars - gently bang the bottom of each jar to fit as much of the mincemeat in as possible.
  5. Seal the jars immediately and store for at least a month before use
Notes
  1. *To blanch almonds, put them in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes before draining through a sieve. Pat them dry on some kitchen paper or clean tea towel. You can quickly get the skin off one by one by pinching the broader, rounded end of the nut
Print
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

What’s cooking? Good looking!

Samsung built in electric single oven

Our foodie posts are some of the most popular here on our blog – we’ve discovered that lots of our visitors especially love cooking & eating cheesecake, malt bread and chocolate desserts. We also know that hundreds (if not thousands!) of our regular readers love trying their luck with our monthly giveaways.

Well, we have a win-win bit of news for all you lovely people! Our friends over at Voucherbox wanted us to share with you a competition that they’ve got going on at the moment.

Samsung built in electric single oven

They have a brand new Samsung built in electric single oven worth £469 up for grabs. It’s something of a miracle oven, it cleans as it cooks – I wish ours could do that!

It’s easy to enter – just answer a very simple question (you’re even given a hint!). The deadline for entering is midnight on the 31st of January. Get on over there… and best of luck!

[disclosure*]

Redcurrant jelly

'Redcurrant jelly' blog post banner

Jars of home-made redcurrant jelly | H is for Home

July sees the start of our food harvesting and preserving season. Last week we made a delicious elderflower ice cream with our home-made elderflower cordial.

colander full of redcurrants picked on our allotment

This week, we’ve made some redcurrant jelly using a recipe from Cordon Bleu Preserving.

Washed redcurrants put into glass jars

We inherited half a dozen or so redcurrant bushes when we took on our allotment last year. On our last trip down there this week, the bushes were heaving with little red jewels.

Redcurrants cooked in lidded jars in the oven

It took the pair of us about two hours to pick about half of them. When we got home, we gave them a rinse – they barely filled our small colander!

Weighing sugar to make redcurrant jelly

Despite this, we kept back a couple of cupfuls (to go into a pie) before making rest into jelly… it actually made 8 jars.

Straining cooked redcurrants through a jelly bag

We know that redcurrant jelly is usually matched with lamb or game and a dollop or two can go into a gravy for extra flavour. We’ll have to look for some other good flavour matches…any ideas?

Redcurrant jelly
Ingredients
  1. Redcurrants
  2. 800g granulated or preserving sugar to each litre of juice made
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. Gently rinse the redcurrants in a colander before carefully removing the stems and putting the fruit into Kilner jars
  2. Firmly cover the jars with lids before putting them in to an oven at 300ºF/Gas mark 2 until the juice has run well
  3. Remove from the oven carefully remove the lids and turn out the fruit into a jelly bag or muslin overnight
  4. Measure the juice and take the correct proportion of sugar
  5. Add the sugar to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or jam pan and warm on a low heat
  6. In a separate pan, heat the juice to boiling point (but don't allow to boil)
  7. Add the juice carefully to the warm sugar stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved
  8. Pour jelly at once into sterilised jars
  9. Allow to cool before screwing the lids on firmly
Print
Adapted from Cordon Bleu Preserving
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Recipe organiser

'Recipe organiser' blog post banner

recipe organiser | H is for Home

This new recipe organiser was a long time coming!

Old recipe ring binder damaged by flooding

My poor old ring binder that previously held all my recipes had been damaged when our house flooded. It got covered in silt and became more than a little unhygienic.

Old recipe ring binder damaged by flooding

Luckily, the majority of the recipes I’d torn out and kept from newspapers & magazines had been carefully cut and stored in those clear plastic punched pockets. Most remained dry and were salvageable.

Recipe organiser showing recipe tabs

There were a lot of recipes to transfer over and file but the new organiser came with pre-printed tabs with sections for things (that I do a lot of) like baking, preserves, pies & tarts, cakes, desserts etc.

Recipe organiser showing a section divider with a photograph of a Kitchen Aid

It also came with 8 section dividers with lovely photographs of aspirational cooking & baking scenes!

Recipe organiser showing weights and measures page

There were over a hundred sheets for writing down recipes (using a fancy pen in my best handwriting of course!) and a really useful weights & measures conversion chart – I’m always having to look online to convert cups to grams and ºF to ºC.

Recipe organiser showing fish section

 If, like me, you have lots & lots of loose-leaf sheets of paper with recipes on, this folder is perfect. Most recipe organisers I’ve seen out there are too small and are ring bound which means you can’t add pages to them. This one’s big – it can hold A4-size sheets or even folded A3.

Recipe organiser showing a section divider with a photograph of a basket of plums

It was a big job that took longer than expected, but it’s now a real pleasure to pull my big, new recipe organiser out from the work bench drawer in the kitchen.

Recipe organiser showing a recipe for mincemeat and ricotta tart

If you like it, there are still a few of this exact organiser available on Amazon or from the publisher’s website, Ryland Peters & Small.

Recipe organiser showing a recipe for rhubarb tart