Welcome to part one of my Top Tools for Home Bakers! The right tools for the job are essential for success and often we go a little overboard (I know I do) when stocking up on tools and pretty much anything baking-related! But if you’re starting out, you can definitely invest in an assortment of tools that should help you finish most baking projects and won’t break the bank!
This is the list of bigger investments – the ones that perhaps you can’t go out and buy all at once – perhaps you need to plan for some of them, I know I did! But spending wisely in the beginning will save money in the long run, I promise!
Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer (or both, if you’re a lunatic like me)
I think I would die without my mixer. Ok, perhaps that’s a little dramatic, but I can promise you that I would cry real tears if anything were to happen to one of my precious babies. Having a great quality stand mixer is a huge help in doing so many things in the kitchen and they’ve become really affordable in recent years. My recommendation is to get the right mixer for the job – Not everyone needs all the bells and whistles! Trust me, getting a good 5 quart KitchenAid will serve most home bakers just fine!
Of course, if a stand mixer is just out of your price range right now (and we’ve ALL been there), I’d recommend getting the absolute best hand mixer you can afford. Again, I recommend KitchenAid, because they are beasts and last forever! That yellow mixer in my kitchen (you’ll see it in the videos) is about 13 years old and I have never once had a problem with that lovely lady!
8” x 3” Round Cake Pans
If you invest in any baking pans, I would strongly recommend making your first investment in 8” x 3” round pans. Most recipes that you find are written for the 8” pan, and if you get the 3” deep version right off the bat, you’re not going to have to buy them a second time (like this girl) when you realize that you want to get a full 2” tall cake and don’t want to mess with parchment or risk spill-overs.
I discuss it in my first video – I prefer Magic Line pans or Fat Daddios. Magic Line is truly my favorite, as they have sharper edges than any of the other pans I’ve found. This is incredibly helpful when covering cakes. It’s just a personal preference of mine, but believe me, I have about a million pans of all shapes and sizes and the Magic Line are just my favorite. Ok, so I probably don’t have a MILLION pans, but maybe 500,000.
9” x 13” x 2” Cake Pan
While you’re at it, get a good quality 9” x 13” x 2” pan as well. This one is a must-have for sheet cakes, and for the home baker, it should be sufficient to start out. At this point, I wouldn’t worry too much about half sheet and full sheet pans. Instead, if I were truly tempted in indulge in another size, I’d invest in a 9” x 9” x 3” pan to go along with the rectangle. This seems to be the pan size that’s preferred for many brownie and bar cookie recipes, although I don’t know why in the name of all that is holy anyone would want to make that few brownies. WHY?
Ahhhhh…. Cookie Sheets – so versatile, so necessary! I have 4 high-quality, heavy cookie sheets. I just found these on Amazon and I may need to get me some! They have a lip on them and they are NOT those crazy air-filled ones. Personal preference, but I have never liked those things and my cookies and other goodies don’t bake as I’d expected when I’d tried using them. Just a regular old cookie sheet works – I like a sheet with some heft to it, not the less than stellar version that you get in that “250 pieces of bakeware for $10.00” box, but a more heavy-duty version. They may cost a little more than 4 cents each, but they will last forever and a day and if you use Parchment paper (and really, why wouldn’t you?) they stay close to pristine!
Cooling Racks – not terribly exciting but oh so necessary! I remember the days of cooling cakes on a dishtowel on the counter when I was younger – Did anyone else do that? We cooled cookies on paper towels or something similar – we didn’t need any of that “fancy cooling rack” nonsense, not us! Then I got older – I moved out on my own, and a rebel was born – I can remember almost furtively buying them and bringing them home – As the years passed I became proud of my racks! I showed them off – I encouraged others to buy them – I gave them away whispering, “The first one’s free” –
Cooling racks are an important part of the baking process. Allowing the air to flow all around your delicious treats cools them more quickly, but it also prevents them from getting soggy and no one wants a soggy cookie! I have found my version of the perfect cooling rack – it’s a grid, rather than a grill and I have about 10 of them. SO useful –
Look for more of Rho’s Top Tools for Home Bakers later this week! In the meantime, do you have any favorite “go-to” tools in the kitchen that are regulars in your baking arsenal?