My top 10 Baking Tools

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Baking has always had a presence in my life from a young age.  I have a picture of myself as a 2 year old "helping" with bread making.

My brother and father have food allergies, and we frequently had to make sweet treats from scratch, to know exactly what was in them. We were eating vegan chocolate cakes long before we knew what vegan was! It was totally fun and totally normal for me to bake regularly.

I took a baking hiatus in my university years. Who needed to bake when you could eat cookie dough from a package and Tim Horton's was around the corner?

As I started taking more of an interest in making all my family's food from scratch, I re-discovered my interest in baking. With the introduction of Pinterest, Anna Olsen and baking blogs into my life, I became hooked on "figuring out" baking.

A baking expert I am not, but I have some favourite baking "tools" I like to have in my back pocket. Some we have had since we got married; others have been acquired through investment; others are cheap and cheerful. Check it out!

1) A one piece silicone spatula

I got mine from the dollar store (whoop whoop!).  I have had many a spatula in my baking life. I had ones that had a plastic handle with silicone blade. But the blade always falls off and collects moisture, which of course leads to mildew in your spatula. Ew. Not the kind of thing you want to be baking with.  You also don't have to worry about the plastic handle melting, if you leave it on the pot rim, while making candy.  Which leads me to my next one....

2) Candy Thermometer

I starting making candy/brittle several years ago when I got a coveted "Christmas crack" recipe (stay tuned for that one!). The whole, figuring out the soft ball/hard ball/soft crack/hard crack stages was too complex and too messy.... Enter: candy thermometer. I got mine from our local Sobeys grocery store. It allows you to be swift when you hit that hard crack stage which prevents burning. In addition, there is no guessing if it's going to set properly. It is also helpful for making caramel sauce and deep frying anything (check out legendary Chuck Hughes deep fried mars bar).

3) Parchment Paper

Parchment paper revolutionized my baking. Just use it.

4) Cuisinart's steel baking sheets

These are pans are substantial and put up with anything.  No warping and easy cleaning. I use these daily and got them on super-sale at my local Canadian Tire. 

5) A food scale

No self respecting baker wouldn't have it in their kitchen. Baking is a science. Depending on temperature of ingredients, air temperature, humidity etc, it may change the volume of your ingredients...hence measuring cups just aren't as precise. A lot of "legit" baker blogs like "Smitten Kitchen" often provide ingredient weights. Some blogs are really tough and ONLY provide the ingredient weights!  In the end, it really allows for less complicated baking, less error and hopefully more success in your science experiment.

6) Cuisinart 14-cup food processor

Oh my love for my food processor knows no bounds!  I use it a lot in my cooking, but it is also a star in the baking world, in my opinion.  I use it to grind graham crackers into crumbs, oats into flour, coarsely chop nuts in seconds and incorporate butter easily and quickly into flour for pie crusts and scones (more on that another day!). If there is one investment piece for your kitchen let it be a food processor.

7) Emile Henry Ceramic pie plate

After I got over my pie crust fear (thanks Sherrie!), I fell in love with my pie plate that I got as a wedding present. It bakes crusts so evenly, looks beautiful and helps create gorgeous curvy edges.

8) Stainless Steel Mixing bowls

Love the little ones for use in a double boiler for melting chocolate and the large ones for larger baking projects.  You can purchase in sets and keep them recessed for easy storage. They are also indestructible, as I have the same ones I got nine years ago as a wedding gift.

9) Stacking cooling racks

Amazing for individuals with tight counter space who love to bake in multiples. They usually sell in sets of three, which allows for easy cooling of large batches of cookies, scones, biscuits etc. I admittedly have a set that is coated. I wouldn't recommend, as the coating is flaking off now.  Time to invest in stainless steel!

10) Kitchen Aid Stand mixer

I really debated on including this one.  I did because it is the only electric mixer/whipper option that works for me in my kitchen.  Is it the be all and end all? No. So don't feel guilty if you can't afford one! It has more versatility than your run-of-the-mill hand mixer and it's fun to use. That I can't deny....Darn it! There is no stand mixer emoticon! In the end, there is a lot of be said for the precision that is achieved with hand mixing and maybe number 10 should be our hands.

What did I miss? What are your baking must haves?

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