Very, very important.
Whether you’re completely new to baking and looking for the baseline equipment that you’ll need to get started, or you’re an avid baker looking to declutter the mess that is your home kitchen, it’s important to know which tools you actually need. This way, you can ensure that your home kitchen is fully equipped to handle whatever baking project it is that you want to tackle, but at the same time, you’re not drowning in pots, pans, and gadgets that are slowly acquiring dust.
Like any hobby, it’s pretty easy to get carried away with superfluous appliances and accessories that might initially seem like must-haves for any dedicated baker. However, we’re going to go ahead and say that there are plenty of tempting baking accessories that you probably don’t need (read: as much as you want to convince yourself that a spoon cookie pan is going to make or break your baking life, you can probably get away without owning one*). In order to help you cut down on baking equipment costs while also avoiding over-cluttering your kitchen, we’ve picked out the absolute essential baking tools that you need for pastry success.
KitchenAid Stand Electric Mixer
Alright, so this one might be a shot to the wallet, but it’s a worthwhile investment that will last you for a lifetime of baking. It’s important to select the mixer that’s right for your kitchen and budget, and from there, the possibilities are endless. If the stand mixer feels like too much of a financial commitment (totally understandable), consider an electric hand mixer. While it may not have as much power as a stand mixer, you can get away with it for most baking endeavors. From cookies to cakes to icing, there are few recipes that won’t have you pulling out this appliance. If you want, you can also buy special attachments, like a pasta maker or a spiralizer, to broaden the abilities of this kitchen workhorse.
In the world of baking, every last drop of batter or dough counts, and that’s why you can’t go without a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of your bowls and pans, ensuring that every last particle is swiped away clean. Ideally, you should have a couple different sizes and widths, depending on the project, but any silicone rubber spatula will get the job done. We prefer the one-piece spatulas, as opposed to those designed with a wooden handle and detachable silicone head, because they’re more sanitary and less prone to trapping bacteria.
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Those dry ingredients aren’t going to mix themselves, that’s for sure. What’s great about using a whisk to combine ingredients is that it also incorporates air, which is a essential addition for light, well-aerated baked goods and pastries. Even though it’s not technically considered baking, you can also use a whisk to froth up an egg mixture and cook the fluffiest dish of scrambled eggs you’ve ever dang had.
What good is a perfect dough or batter when you have no vessel in which to bake it on/in? Rather than overwhelming your kitchen with piles and piles of pans that you’ll probably never use, let’s stick to the essentials, here. A 9-x13-inch baking pan, a 9-inch round baking pan, a bundt pan, and a glass pie pan should get you through most recipes. If you don’t have a rimmed baking sheet, that’s probably not the worst idea, either.
A common misconception among bakers is that all ingredients can be measured in the same cup. This! Is! Untrue! There are specific measuring cups intended for dry ingredients versus wet ingredients, and if the two are used interchangeably, this could result in up to ¼ cup discrepancy. In other words, it’s not good and could easily botch a recipe. Don’t be that guy—you’re better than that. Make sure you’ve got your kitchen equipped with clearly-marked measuring cups in order to achieve precise baking.
BONUS: Digital Kitchen Scale
I know, I know—we promised it’d only be 5 tools, but we have to make a very special bonus exception. Even though proper measuring techniques usually gets you to where you're going, a digital kitchen scale ensures precise accuracy. While it may seem intimidating at first, a scale is actually an arguably easier and more efficient way of measuring dry ingredients.
*If making cookies in the shape of a spoon is something that truly speaks to you however, then this is a very wise and respectable purchase to make.