If you're trying to build a more well-stocked kitchen for baking, there are certain essential tools and equipment you should consider. While you don't necessarily need to run out and purchase all of these items at once, consider this list a guideline of goals to work toward. Your time in the kitchen will go more smoothly and you will always be ready to bake at a moment's notice.
Measuring bowls can be purchased in nested sets in order to save space. They're made from various materials such as glass or ceramic. There are pluses and minuses to different materials, but it's mostly a personal preference. I like sets with pouring spouts because they make handling batter a breeze.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Every baker's kitchen needs measuring cups and spoons. It's important to note that dry and liquid ingredients are measured differently, so you will want to purchase dry and liquid versions of each.
Assorted Heat Resistant Tools
Whisks, spatulas, ladles, and pastry brushes are all important kitchen tools. Most options sold these days are heat resistant, but it's a good idea to double check! Heat resistant tools are typically made from silicone. While old fashioned metal whisks are fine, newer silicone models have the added benefit of being able to whisk without causing damage. If you are using a metal whisk against a metal pot, there is potential to scratch the bottom of the pan.
Sheet Pans, Parchment Paper, Silpats
Though the terms cookie sheets, baking sheets and sheet pans are sometimes used interchangeably, there's a difference. Cookie sheets have a flat edge, whereas baking sheets and sheet pans do not. Baking sheets and sheet pans have raised sides, but baking sheet sizes aren't always standardized. Your best bet is to purchase standardized half or full-sheet pans. Half-sheet pans are a good all-purpose size, whereas full-sheet pans will take up the entire shelf of an oven and are useful for large batches of cookies (note: you should measure to make sure it will fit in your oven before purchasing a full-sheet pan). Typically, half-sheet pans measure 13 by 18 inches and full-sheet pans measure 16 by 22 inches. Sheet pans can also be used for sheet cakes and roll cakes.
Parchment paper is a disposable nonstick paper that can be used on baking sheets as well as in cake pans, brownie pans, and loaf pans to prevent sticking. It can be purchased in rolls at the grocery store, but I recommend purchasing it online in sheets that are sized to fit sheet pans. It's inexpensive and convenient. You can also purchase parchment rounds that are cut to 8 inches or 9 inches for use with cake pans.
If you prefer a reusable option, Silpats are nonstick silicone mats that can be used in the same way as parchment paper.
Have a variety of nonstick baking pans on hand. Good options include 2 to 3 cake pans (8 or 9 inches are the most common size), a 9x5 inch loaf pan, an 8x8 or 9x9 inch brownie pan, and a 9x1 or 9x2 inch pie pan. If you plan on baking pies, keep in mind that some recipes call for shallow pie pans while other recipes call for deep dish pie pans. Other pans to consider are flutted tart pans with removable bottoms for tarts and quiche, and springform pans for cheesecake.
Small and large nonstick muffin pans are essential in any baker's kitchen. You can either lightly grease them, or use cupcake liners.
While an electric handheld mixer will get the job done in some instances, there's really no replacement for a stand mixer. It whips cream, creams butter and sugar, kneads dough, and will last for generations if properly cared for.
It is so important to weigh dry ingredients in baked goods, especially flour. A cup of flour can weight anywhere from 3 1/2 ounces to 5 ounces depending on whether it's scooped from the bag or spooned into the measuring cup. That will make quite a difference in the final appearance and texture of your baked goods. Kitchen scales are inexpensive, so there's really no excuse not to have one.
Bench Scraper, French Rolling Pin
A bench scraper is a rectangular tool that’s useful for working with dough. It can be used to cut, divide, and lift thinly rolled out dough. Some bench scrapers also include ruler markings, making it a great multitasking kitchen tool.
French rolling pins have tapered edges instead of handles, which allow for more control over the dough.
You will want a cooling rack and or trivet to place hot items on that have been removed from the oven.
Fine Mesh Strainer
Fine mesh strainers are useful for sifting cocoa powder, cornstarch, and confectioners' sugar. They're also good for straining sauces and various liquids.
Measuring scoops are perfect for portioning out cookie dough, and also for evenly dividing cupcake and muffin batter.
In addition to cutting cookies, round cutters are also useful for biscuits, scones even crackers.
Zester, Juicers, Vegetable Peeler
When baked goods call for citrus juice, strips of zest, or grated zest, you'll want one of these tools. A standard vegetable peeler works fine for peeling strips, but a microplane zester is what you'll want for grating. Microplanes can also be used for grating nutmeg.
Be a Baker!
Try some of these delicious recipes for creating baked goods everyone will love...