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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 6-piece kitchen tool with holder set – We have a pot of bamboo spoons and spatulas beside the stove… crucial!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Tins, pans & racks
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?