If you bake as much as I do, you learn pretty quickly which are the tools and baking gadgets that are useless and which ones you simply cannot live without. I have A LOT of baking goodies – from my ridiculous cookie cutter collection to an absurd amount of piping tips, but over the years I’ve whittled my obsession for baking gadgets and equipment down to 13 must-haves. Take a look:
- Get. A. Scale.
I know you’re probably tired of hearing me say it but weighing your ingredients will change your baking. 140g of flour will always be 140g of flour – whether it’s tightly packed or sifted. 1 cup of flour is a whole ‘nother story! Try weighing a cup of flour 5 times – each time you will get another result. And if that doesn’t convince you, using a scale saves washing up! Instead of using every measuring cup, you simply weigh everything into one bowl! Scales are not expensive – you can get an al-cheapo one for R60. This is the one I have, but to be honest, any digital scale is better than nothing!
2. Oven thermometer
Most ovens lie to you! What the knob/dial says and the temperature inside are two different stories! An oven thermometer will take a lot of guess work out of your baking. And they’re also not too pricey. This one is just R78 from Takealot.com
These are great for dividing bread dough but also getting that smooth straight edge on a cake. I have a really wide 25cm one which is perfect for taller cakes! You can get the more expensive metal ones, but the plastic works just fine for me.
4. Off-Set Palette Knives – 1 x small and 1 x big
Honestly, if you can have more of these then do it! I have 3 large and 3 small and it never feels like enough. They’re amazing for spreading frosting, cake batter, lifting rolled-out pastry, loosening cakes from tins – the list is endless. I like the ones with the wooden handles, because I can use them in my photographs, but the plastic handles are just as good.
5. Digital/sugar thermometer
I love this fancy schmancy one from Heston Blumenthal that the husband bought for me. It has soft ball, hard ball stage etc already programmed in which is super useful with a timer so it beeps when it reaches the temperature. But you can get a very affordable standard thermometer online for about R150. Perfect for making fudge, toffees, nougat, italian meringue – it takes the guessing out of dropping sugar syrup into water, peering into the cup and wondering whether it’s hard or soft ball. Life changer! (side note, it’s also great for checking medium/rare/well done steaks!)
6. Stand Mixer
While I may love my Copper Kitchenaid more than my husband. I know not everyone can afford one but they are a fantastic investment. With the amount of baking I do, I’ve gone through 3 other brands where the motors have just given up while attempting to knead bread dough. But, I know not everyone bakes as much as I do! A stand mixer saves so much time, as you can leave it creaming your butter and sugar and do something else in the meantime, and it saves you energy (no more kneading by hand!).
7. Disposable Piping Bags
Because life is too short to wash a piping bag! That being said, I do reuse mine a couple of times before recycling them. I love The Piping Bag Company – you can find them in most baking shops like CAB, Value Baking etc. The disposable bags allow you to snip the tip off for any piping nozzle. You don’t have to look for the attachment rings etc etc.
8. Loose-bottom cake tin 17cm
You may have noticed that I love to use 17cm cake tins in my cake recipes. I prefer to make a smaller, taller cake as it’s still a manageable size for most families to enjoy and looks really impressive. Loose-bottoms are always the way to go as I find there’s less chances of the edges breaking when you unmold it.
9. Silicone Baking Mats
Okay so these aren’t a must-have but they are a splurge/investment that will pay off in the long run! Think about how much baking paper you go through in a year and add that all up and BAM, you could’ve bought one of these babies! Perfect for cookies, praline, hot caramel, spreading chocolate, bread and, if you’re really wanting to perfect your macarons, these are a GAME CHANGER.
10. Revolving Cake Decorating Stand
If you’re trying to get that perfect flawlessly smooth finish on your buttercream-frosted cakes, it’s almost impossible to do so without one of these babies. This one is pretty cool because it’s actually pretty enough to be a cake stand too! Once you’ve frosted a cake on a turntable, you will never be able to go back!
11. Large star piping tip #857
I have a bajillion piping nozzles but this is by far my favourite. It makes a pretty swirly effect when piped on cupcakes and is quite versatile for cakes and cookies too. I love piping my melting moments with it!
12. Rubber Spatulas
I can never have enough of these Le Creuset Spatulas. I’m addicted to the range of colours and the medium size is not too big and not too small – it’s juuuuust right. The wooden handle is also super sturdy so they never break like some of the cheaper spatulas.
13. Flat-sided Cookie Sheets
I’m not really sure why cookie/baking sheets have sides and to be honest I never really gave it much thought until I got this flat-sided kind. The edges just take up space that the cookies could be using! Not only can you fit far more onto this sheet, they’re easier to clean and don’t warp as easily. These sheets are also AMAZING for lifting large cakes! It makes the perfect giant spatula.
That’s my list, for now! I’ll keep adding to this as I find more and more baking goodies I think you may like. Is there anything I’ve left off this list that you cannot live without? Let me know in the comments below!
Feel free to forward this onto your husband/boyfriend/partner/colleague/family members/friends so they can actually get you a Christmas or birthday gift that will get lots of love and be super useful! 🙂