If you love baking, then you probably already have most of these baking tools in your kitchen. However, if you are new to baking, then I hope this post will serve as a guide to your new baking journey. And, if you have a baker friend, then you can use this guide as an idea for a gift for her for the holidays or her special occasion. So, here are the essential 15 tools every baker needs.
I started baking at a very early age and as a beginner baker, I have moved to quite a few countries and kitchens often leaving some of my most loved tools behind. Every time I had to stock my new kitchen I'd tell myself, this time I'd be smarter and make the right choices.
Well, fast forward through the years and I do have more than I need. Quite a few that I have used just once and realized it wasn't a necessity. Needless to say, I've often spent good money on useless tools.
This is why I decided that I wanted to make a list of just 15 baking tools that I think are must-haves for every home baker. I've compiled this list based on my own experience, as well as the frequent questions I receive from my blog readers. Most of all, I hope you'll find it helpful in your own baking, especially for beginners.
Of course, I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. These are in no particular order of importance.
Essential baking tools
1. Digital Scale
Seems like I keep saying it over and over again, you must weigh your ingredients when you bake. Why? So you will bake the same pastry perfectly every single time. When you measure by volume you get a "more or less" measure. For example, one day you can measure one cup as 110 grams, while the next day you may have 140 grams. Since much depends on how you fill the cup.
Also, a standard measure for one cup of flour is 128 grams. So you see what I mean. I know it's hard to start baking by weight when you are so used to baking by volume. And yet, trust me - you will be a much better baker if you weigh your ingredients. A digital kitchen scale isn't very expensive and will last you for a long long time. For me, this is a must-have baking tool.
2. Electric appliances
I started baking regularly when I got my stand mixer because I didn't need to knead or mix batters the old fashion way. Trust me an electric mixer is a blessing to cream butter, make the frosting, whip whites, or knead the dough. A good stand mixer is a baker's best friend. And yet, a stand mixer is not something you buy often. So make sure you buy a good one that you will enjoy using for years to come.
For example, I have had my Kenwood K-Mix for over 15 years and never had a problem with it. I also love my Bosch Hand Mixer which I use for the purpose of my videos.
Kitchen-aid is another brand that has good customer reviews. You can find more about choosing the right stand mixer in this post - Best hand mixer for a home baker.
3. Measuring Cups, Measure Spoons
The measuring cups and measuring spoons are just as important. A teaspoon as a measuring spoon may not necessarily be the same as other teaspoons you have in the drawer. Also, liquid measuring cups are not the same as volume measuring cups. So using the right tools to measure is not an option but critical to good baking. And yet, these don't have to be brand products or expensive. I've had this measuring cup and spoon set for years and they are so durable.
4. Mixing Bowls
A good set of mixing bowls is an asset to baking. Therefore, I do not use my cake mixing bowls for anything other than cakes, cupcakes or cookies. They never ever get meat in them. And that's not just for hygiene but to make sure I have no odor or grease from the meat in my bowls. Hence, it is always a good idea to keep them separate if you can afford it.
As a result, I have these two sets of mixing bowls - one is glass mixing bowls and the other is stainless steel with sizes starting from a small 6 inch to a 16 inch. (you need the big ones only if you bake big cakes like me).
5. Sieve or Sifter
This is the simplest baking item and yet very important. I'm often surprised when my students try to skip the process of sifting their dry ingredients. Sifting dry ingredients can often be the result of a light and airy cake. These don't have to be expensive or branded. If you bake often as I do then you probably want to buy a battery-operated sifter. I have been using mine for a while and I can honestly say I love it very much. The manual sieve is great for small quick projects and the mini sifter is great when you need to dust baked items with powder sugar.
6. Whisk, spatulas, wooden spoons
There are many different types of whisk for all the different things we bake. While I don't insist you buy them all at least invent in one multipurpose whisk which for me is the good balloon whisk. I have a set in different sizes which I use regularly
Just to give you an idea of the different purposes of the many whisks. A balloon whisk is used for almost everything from whisking eggs to whipping stiff peaks or meringues. A French whisk works beautifully when you need to prepare smooth creamy sauces. While a flat whisk is best when you are making a rough because it helps to scrape the bottom preventing it from burning. Spiral whisk is generally used when combining dressings and vinaigrettes. Ball whisk is the best when you need to make a meringue. Coil whisk is one I have still to get used to but works best when working with liquid ingredients in deep dishpans.
You will need a good set of spatulas for many different purposes from stirring and folding to scraping the sides and bottom of the bowls. A rubber or silicone spatula is perfect to scrape that last bit of batter. And, if you like to frost cakes you may even want to include a straight-edged and offset spatula. These are easy to find but make sure to buy them from a good source so they do not have any unwanted odors or break easily.
7. Baking Tray, sheet pans and Cooling Rack
We all need good baking trays, baking sheets, sheet pans, or cookie sheets for various projects from baking cookies to baking spring rolls. Cooling racks are just as important so you can cool your cakes and cookies after they are baked. You want the air circulated around the baked goods so the steam evaporates rather than makes the bottom of the cake or cookie soggy. See my cookie recipes here
8. Baking Pans
Every home baker must have a few good cake pans to bake cakes, brownies as well as bars. Right? I'd say a 6-inch round, 8-inch, and 9-inch round cake pan are the most common sizes for cakes. In addition, a 9-inch square pan is great to have when making bars, squares, and shortbreads. In addition, if you love to make cheesecakes, then you definitely want to invest in a good springform pan. They are invaluable when making cakes, tortes, and cheesecakes. I'd say a 9-inch springform pan is a perfect size for cheesecakes, while a 9 x 13 rectangular sheet pan is great for those coffee cakes.
9. Muffin Pan, Bundt Pan
If you love baking cakes then you definitely make cupcakes and muffins which means you wanna get yourself a good muffin pan. Also, I have yet to meet a home baker that does not love making bundt cakes and rings and loaf cakes. These are perfect for those summer fruitcakes as well as winter spice cakes. Another one of my favorites is the Madeline pan. While it's not used as much, it's always loved by cake bakers.
10. Loaf pans
Who doesn't love sandwiches? Right? Buying a good loaf pan is important. Why? the pan needs the bread to out easily despite that cooking process.
Every home needs a good loaf pan and if you like making sandwiches the Pullman loaf pan makes the best square-shaped slices. And, it makes a deliciously soft, rich bread with a tender crumb. Whether you make sandwiches or French toast these will give you those perfect presentable slices. You can find my recipe to make the Pullman Sandwich Bread and Brioche Loaf Bread here.
11. Pastry Pans - Pie Pan, and Tart Pan
Pies, tarts, quiches, and sweet pastries are the favorites of a home baker. I cannot think of a week in which I don't use one of these pans. As a result, you can really have a collection of pans over time. And yet, for starters, one of each is a must-have. These 9-inch pie pan, 9-inch tart pan, and mini-tart pan are my favorite for making pie crusts, quiche crust, or shortcrust pastries along with this pastry blender.
12. Rolling pan, Dough Scraper, and Pastry Brush
Honestly, this is a must-have before you even buy the pans. I can not think of working without a good rolling pin. Since I am a pastry person, the French rolling pin is almost an extension of my arms. I even use it to roll my fondant. In addition, a dough scraper is another tool that just comes out automatically every time I bake. Lastly, the pastry brush has to be a good quality one that can be washed clean and won't leave bristles when you brush the egg wash on your baked goods.
13. Cake Stands and Turn Table
I'm one of those who has an obsession with cake stands. If I had a choice I'd have a room full of them. Sigh. And yet, you don't need a room full of cake stands just one good cake stand is great to have. They do a great job of displaying your hard work.
If you love working with cake then a cake turntable will make your cake decorating life easier, more efficient, and look more professional.
14. Aprons and Oven Gloves
I really don't need to tell you how important oven gloves are. Do I? Never ever open the oven without putting on gloves first.
Also, do you use an apron only when cooking and baking? Or are you like me? I always forget to take it off. So I somehow end up wearing an apron all day long. Which is why I need a good apron. One that's not just useful but also looks pretty and fun. And yet, you don't have to. Most of all, a basic apron is such a necessity to when baking. I hate getting flour or batter on my clothes.
Many home bakers take the benefits of having thermometers for granted. Whether you are cooking a steak, roasting a chuck roast, leg of lamb, baking a cake, or bread, taking it out at the right time is as important as the rest of the preparation process. Can you imagine marinating your roast for so many hours only to take it out a few minutes too late? But, had you stuck a thermometer in there, it would ring just in time for you to take it out.
Good to have
Oven thermometer and Blow Torch.
Testing your oven's accuracy is sometimes very important, especially if you bake often. Some recipes like macarons or angel food cakes, genoise need the right temperatures. A bit off and things can go in the wrong direction. So once in a while, it would be nice to test the oven temperature with an oven thermometer to know if it needs some minor adjustment of a technical calibration.
If you love making desserts like Creme Brulee a blow torch becomes a must-have item for a baker. I got mine a few years ago and it ended up being the reason why I make as many creme brulee kinds of recipes.
Scoops and cutters
I have a few scoops that I absolutely love to use every time. While you can do without a scoop for your ice cream, I really do think having them is necessary. And, if you love making cookies then definitely invest in cookie scoops and parchment paper or silicone mat for the cookie dough on the baking sheets.
My favorite books
This may not be on your must-have list but it should be. Books are not just for recipes they are also for inspiration. Furthermore, they can help you when you need to get back in the mood for baking. Also, you can check with your book when you have the slightest doubt about a recipe you are trying. While these days you can find a lot of information on the internet, still for me...I would rather grab a book.
Here are three of my favorite baking books when I need inspiration for cakes, cupcakes, or cookies. The first two are old classics. And yet they are the very first books I pick up when I want inspiration. These books have recipes that have never failed to inspire me.
- The baking bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum - is definitely a bakers bible filled with recipes for cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, pastries, bread and so much more.
- Pastry love - by Joanne Chang - is chockfull with125 recipes, tips, and techniques. Lots of stunning photos and detailing.
- The Pastry Chef's little black book - by Michael Zebrowski and Michale Mignano is another great collection of 500 recipes.