If you are new to the world of baking, it can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe you want to learn how to bake cookies or make a chocolate cake for an upcoming birthday. You might not know where to start, but don't worry! Baking is easier than you think, and we have put together some basic baking essentials and tools that will help you get started and be on your way to becoming a better baker.
My love of baking goes back most of my life, or at least I should say as long as I can remember. But as the years go by, there are more and more gadgets and baking tools. Some people think they might need every single cooking utensil, but all you really need are a few key items like measuring cups, mixing bowls, and spatulas, for starters. And while it's nice to have some variety with your pans, you don't always need them. The most important thing is finding what works best for you and not spending all your time looking around for other options when you already know what works for you. So with that being said, I understand which kitchen tools bakers need to really make life easier and which they can do without.
What I use: Taylor Oven Thermometer I love to cook, but it can be a real pain when the oven turns out too cool or too hot. I've had many brand new ovens in my life, and not one has had a perfect temperature. And I'm betting more times than not; your oven temperature is slightly off as well. It's just the nature of the beast. My last oven from the factory was off by 50 degrees once installed at my house. Even after calibration, it is consistently 10 degrees different than what it should be. Let me just say there is nothing worse for baking than having an unreliable heat source. So always remember, the perfect oven is a myth. We put a lot of time into the prep of the recipe and money into the ingredients, and to have it ruined by incorrect temps is a very frustrating experience. This is a relatively inexpensive tool but worth its weight in gold!
2. Kitchen Scale
What I use: Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Kitchen Scale We use this because, in baking, precision is everything! I prefer to use grams instead of empirical measurements. Why? The reason for this is that a gram is always a gram, while a cup will vary. Think about all the ways you grab a cup of flour. Did you scoop and then use a straight edge to level the flour? Did you fluff the flour first, or was it packed down? Remember, precision is everything, which means that if you are off by just ⅛th of a cup or half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, it could spell disaster. And for even the tiniest of measurements, I will use this mini pocket scale. This is great for that pinch of something because sometimes the small quantity of powders doesn't even register on a regular kitchen scale. So we have both baking tools in our kitchen.
3. Sheet Pans
What I use: Nordic Ware Commercial Baker's Half Sheet Pan I can not even begin to count how many of these I have on hand. I love them and use them almost daily. This is the 12 x 17 inch size that should fit perfectly into your oven. I also have these lids designed just for the sheet pans. Now the lids aren't a necessity, just a luxury item. But one that is so worth investing in. Not only will these be your baking go-to pan, but they are great for cooking meats, fish, and vegetables.
4. Cooling Racks
What I use: Bakers Secret Cooling Rack Cookies and cakes deserve the best care possible. The bottom of your baked goods needs air to cool evenly and stop the cooking process. If you've ever left cookies or cakes on the sheet pan too long, and they got icky brown bottoms, that was probably because the bottom of your baking pan wasn't getting any air, resulting in overcooked baked goods or soggy bottoms. And no one wants that!
5. Rolling Pin
What I use: Wood Rolling Pin I will say rolling pins are a necessity. This is definitely one of those items that style will be a personal preference. I am a fan of using rolling pins that do not have handles. There are also many out there that are wood, marble, stainless and other materials. Again, personal preference. I know a rolling pin is an essential baking tool; how it looks is up to you.
6. Whisks & Spatulas
What I use: Oxo Whisks & Silicone Spatulas Many different kitchen utensils can be used for baking, but a spatula is one of the most versatile. It's useful for tasks as mundane as stirring and mixing to more advanced tasks like spreading frosting or even scraping down the sides of your mixing bowl. I think spatulas are one of those things that you will use every single time you bake something. Now for the whisks, I'm suggesting the OXO brand of whisks. They have multiple sizes, which makes it nice as you advance in the baking world. For just getting started, this size is perfect and will be a go-to for quite some time.
7. Measuring Cups & Spoons
What I use: OXO Measuring Cup and Spoon set is a great set to have. This set holds up well and gives you all the tools you need for your dry goods. I'd also have at least one liquid measuring cup. One will hold you over for quite a while, but sometimes it's nice to have larger sizes. One that holds up to a quart of liquid is definitely a luxury item but nice to have.
8. Cookie Scoops
What I use: OXO Good Grips Cookie Scoop This is another one of those multi-purpose tools for baking. This set comes in three sizes, and you will definitely use all three sizes. Think cookies, muffins, truffles... ice cream! Now the ice cream is where I mostly use the large scoop, and it's definitely a guilty pleasure.
9. Hand Mixer
What I use: KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Mixer I got my first stand mixer many years ago as a gift to myself. I was really excited, and then I realized it's not the most useful tool in the kitchen when you are cooking for one or even two people. But, when making something small, or if you need to mix something for a minute, this is where the hand mixer reigns. It has become such an important part of my baking routine. Now, if you have it in the budget, I'd definitely say grab both. But if not, start with the hand mixer.
10. Mixing Bowls
What I use: Stackable Glass Mixing Bowls When I first started out, I got a set of metal mixing bowls. Which are still great to have, but I soon realized I couldn't put them in the microwave if I need to melt something quickly. So I added these glass mixing bowls to my collection. This is a great 10 piece set that gives you many options to work with in your day to day baking. You pretty much can't go wrong with most online choices, and there are plenty of them!
11. Baking Pans & Baking Mat
What I use: Fat Daddio's Round Cake Pans are a great starter set to have in any kitchen. This gives you a 10", 8", and a 6" baking pan, perfect for most needs. They also make a 9" x 13" sheet pan that is indispensable in your kitchen. I love this brand because they have the right amount of versatility to suit many cooking needs, from making delicious cakes to preparing savory dishes such as lasagna.
What I use: Silpat NonStick Silicone Baking Mat Now parchment paper is great, but I really love these mats. It lays flat on the cookie sheet! Can I get a hallelujah! I use these almost every time I use a sheet pan. Every cookie I make is baked on top of one of these. It's also great for your savory dishes. I also roll dough onto them. I could go on and on about their uses. I probably own 10 of these, but I use them daily. Start with one, and you will soon see how much you love it, and then start adding it to your Christmas and birthday wish lists!
12. Cooking Alarm & Thermometer
What I use: ChefAlarm® Cooking Alarm Thermometer and Timer by Thermoworks. I use this almost every time I bake something. Either for the timer feature for baking or the thermometer to ensure my recipes are always just right no matter what type of dessert I create - whether cookie doughs and caramels that call for precise temperature or time ranges in their instructions. I love the easy-to-read digital readout on top with alert settings built into them, so there's never any guesswork involved whatsoever. This company has multiple thermometers, and this one is a great basic thermometer and timer.
What are your favorite tools for baking? Please share in the comments, I always love hearing other ideas!