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?

Price Points: Kitchen timers

Selection of kitchen timers | H is for Home

Kitchen timers are terribly undervalued kitchen tools. If it weren’t for our vintage Junghans wall mounted example many a meal, cake or loaf of bread would have been totally ruined!

I have a memory like a sieve and only its short, sharp ring alerts me to what I was doing half an hour ago. And we’ve noticed that Justin’s mum & dad could do with one too – they’re forever returning to the kitchen during cooking to check the clock on the oven instead of setting a timer and getting on with something else. It’s always good to accumulate a few Xmas pressie ideas so that’s gone on the list.

Here are three timers with various price tags, tick-tock and silent digital models, contemporary and vintage, plain black and brightly coloured, ones that ring and ones that quack! Take your pick!

  1. Tesco Basics timer – £2.50, Tesco
  2. Vintage kitchen timer – £22.00, H is for Home
  3. Alessi duck kitchen timer – £35.00, Selfridges

Price Points: Cake decorating combs

Cake decorating combs | H is for Home

While browsing cake recipes on Pinterest this week, I realised what the one thing would be to make my home-made cakes look much more professional. Cake decorating combs may be pretty cheap, basic tools but they can make a huge difference to the look of the end product.

For a little over a pound, you can give your iced/butter cream cake a smooth, attractive finish. Each of the combs featured has at least three different types of ‘teeth’ – giving you a choice in the width/depth of the lines/swirls you make on the top and sides of your sweet creations.

  1. Polypropylene decorating comb: £1.18, Nisbets
  2. Ateco aluminium cake decorating comb: £3.78, Amazon
  3. Wilton 3pc icing comb set: £14.99, eBay

Get Rocknife in your life!

Win a knife set worth £94.95 with Rocknife & H is for Home

A good set of kitchen knives makes all the difference with food preparation. Have you ever tried slicing tomatoes, onions… or even a loaf of bread, with a dull knife? Frustrating, not to mention downright dangerous! You might think that you need to be wary of sharp knives, but did you know that you’re much more likely to cut yourself using a dull knife – and the resulting injury will be much worse.

Set of 5 Rocknife ceramic knives with black & white chequeur board blades and lime green handles

All Rocknife blades are made of hardened zirconium oxide (ceramic). This means that their knives are far sharper than ordinary steel, remaining that way for years and years… with barely the need to sharpen. They’re great looking too!

Set of Rocknife ceramic knives with black & white chequeur board blades and black handles

The 4-piece set comprises a 3in, 4in, 5in and 6in ceramic knives. It comes with a complementary stand that can either sit on on your kitchen worktop or alternatively, be wall mounted.

All you need to do to enter the competition is visit the Rocknife website and let us know in the comments section below which ceramic knife set you’d choose if you were to win! There are lots of other ways to gain bonus entries once you leave a comment.

Rocknife ceramic knife set giveaway

Forthcoming Attractions: Late November 2013

'Forthcoming Attractions' blog post banner

selection of recently acquired vintage homewares | H is for Home

Here’s a small selection of our recently sourced vintage homeware items heading to our webshop or antiques centre pitch soon.

selection of recently acquired vintage homewares including set of vintage headphones

We’ll start with a couple of pieces of modern technology. Well, modern for 40 or 50 years ago. The first is these rather cool 1970s stereo headphones. They were produced by Prinzsound & manufactured in Japan. We’ve just plugged them into our system and they’re working just fine – they’d look great with a vintage turntable or mid century modern room scheme.

selection of recently acquired vintage homewares including a green dial telephone

The second is this classic green telephone. It’s PO model no 746F. Modern ‘walk-around the house’ handsets are very convenient of course, but these vintage telephones have got so much presence & design quality. This model has a carry handle and long lead so it could almost be classed as a ‘walk-around’ itself!

selection of recently acquired vintage homewares including an Italian pottery ochre coloured horse figure

Next up we have a bit of a mystery. This gorgeous stylised horse dates from the 1950s or 60s, but we’re not sure who the maker is. It’s marked ‘Italy’ and it does have something of a Bitossi look, but a bit more research is necessary.

selection of recently acquired vintage homewares including a child's toy globe

These vintage toy globes are very cute – perfect for a child’s bedroom or indeed the shelves of a more grown-up lounge. A lovely flash of colour and it’s always interesting to look at the various country locations, name changes etc.

selection of recently acquired vintage homewares including a pair of Figgjo Flint mugs with Viking illustration

We nearly missed these mugs at a recent market. It was only on passing a stall for the second that we spied them amongst a huge pile of crockery. They were produced by Figgjo Flint of Norway in the 1960s and the Viking design is by Rolf Froyland. We have the same design on a pottery wall plaque, but we’ve never actually seen the mugs before.

selection of recently acquired vintage homewares including set of 3 orange enamel saucepans and blue boxed set of Prestige cooking utensils

And finally some wonderful vintage kitchenalia. The utensils are from the Sky-line range produced by Prestige. They have painted wooden handles and are in mint condition. These utensils are often a bit battered when we come across them, so to find a set boxed & unused with the original hanging rack is quite a rare find. The orange enamel pans are lovely too – they’ve got quite a Scandinavian folk art look. We’ve sold examples of this range in blue & green colourways previously, but this is the first time we’ve come across orange.