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When you arrive carrying a big plate of cookies, people generally like to see you coming. With that in mind, Seattle resident Kim Rachmeler took up baking as a hobby. Not only do you get to make people happy, but you get introduced to a whole new world of toys: baking gear to boost your skills and your results. Here's a list of equipment that Kim can recommend wholeheartedly for someone starting down the path of being a bad dietary influence.... more
It's a classic because it works on everything from dough to meringue. I prefer the tilt-head model because I find it easier to change the beaters but you won't be disappointed by the larger bowl-lift model either. The hardest decision will be picking the color!
If you want to improve your baking game, you need to start using a digital scale. Accurately measuring the amounts you add to your recipes will vastly increase your ability to achieve repeatable good results. This particular scale has a nice feature where you can pull the display away from the base, making it easy to read when you're weighing things in a large bowl.
I have a lot of spatulas for different uses but this one gets pulled out much more than the others. GIR stands for "get it right" and they certainly did: it's strong but flexible, easy to clean, and works on everything from meringues to cake batter to bread dough.
A half sheet pan is the workhorse in a baker's kitchen. You use it for cookies and pastries and to catch drips from pies and cheesecakes. It needs to be thick enough to carry a lot of weight and not warp in a hot oven. I have five of these so that I don't have to wait for one to cool down before I can scoop out the next set of cookie dough to go in the oven.
If I have a half-sheet pan I have to have a silpat for it. They make baking and cleanup so much easier. And when I use a half-sheet pan underneath a smaller one to catch any potential spills or overflow, the silpat keeps the small pan from slipping as I move them in and out of the oven.
Being able to know immediately whether my cheesecake is done or my sugar has reached the soft ball stage or my chocolate is cool enough to use makes a big difference in the success of my baking projects. And the Thermapen is tough, reliable, quick, and accurate. I'm told it's great for checking whether meat is done too but since I don't cook I'll have to take that on faith.
Aluminum cake pans are the way to go for even browning and easy release. Fat Daddio pans are sturdy, long-lasting, and easy to clean. I have them in five different sizes I like them so much. Get the ones with 3" sides to make sure even your biggest cake recipes don't spill over.
Do you cringe when the recipe says "line the pan with parchment paper" because you don't want to wrestle with a roll that will never stay flat? The solution is pre-cut half sheets. Pull them out, lay them down, get on with business. And after they're gone, the big resealable bag they come in is useful for keeping fondant or cake lace from drying out while you're working with it.
The ability to see the level in the cup from above is a game changer. No more bending down to squint at the numbers on the side == happier knees and back. One downside: it's harder to scrape out things like corn syrup or honey but other than that, this measuring cup is a 100% winner. If you only get one, the 2 cup measure is a good choice but you'll likely also get a 1 cup size and a 4 cup size because you won't want to be without.
I followed Stella Parks' blog Bravetart for years before she came out with her baking book and I'm happy to say it's a winner. Parks takes all your best known desserts and comes out with variations that let them really shine. From Brown Butter Carrot Cake to Blueberry Crisp, there's something here for everyone. And she includes the history of the item too, which is just a delight to read. I return to this book again and again because her instructions are clear and the results are reliably great.
These containers are my pantry favorites. Their airtight seal means everything stays fresh and that even brown sugar doesn't get hard. The pop top is easy to open without any special hand strength. I have them in many different sizes; the 4.4 quart size is perfect for a 5lb bag of flour.
When you're making cookies, there's nothing like a graduated scoop to make parceling out the dough easy. Oxo's version is sturdy and comfortable; you should get all three sizes because you'll end up wanting them.
I have a lot of rolling pins but the two I have from JK Adams get the most use. These pins are cut to roll out dough at exactly the right height: 1/4" for cookies and 1/8" for pies. They're very sturdy and wide enough for large recipes. I also have rings that you can put on a regular roller to get the same effect but the convenience of just pulling out the right roller and using it immediately wins every time.
I got one of these for Christmas and I'm really impressed. It's comfortable, adjustable, well-made -- it even has built-in pot holders! I'm not even someone who wears an apron on the regular but I put up a special hook in my kitchen to make this one easy to access.