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Baking 101: The "Must-Have" Essentials Every Baker Needs

I’ve been a serious home baker for over 25 years. And when I look at my arsenal of tools and equipment, I’m always amazed at the amount of things I don’t have.

You read correctly.

Most people assume that my kitchen is overflowing with every manner of gadget, tool and gizmo designed to “help” the home baker. But the reality is, that for most recipes, there are a relatively limited number of items you need. I’ve rounded up my “must-have” essentials, whether you’re a die-hard baker or a weekend warrior!

And the good news is that most are relatively inexpensive. It is a total myth that you need costly, fancy tools and equipment for baking. In fact, some of my most beloved possessions are my grandmother’s cake pans and mixing bowls.  Plain and simple, and have stood the test of time.

Now before you look at my first picture and say, “Uhh, stand mixer? Inexpensive??”, let me  explain.

Depending on how much baking you do – and the size of your recipes – there are certain items you may want to invest in. I bake several times a week, and often double (or even triple) the recipe, for freezing. Especially around the holidays. A 5-quart mixer with a heavy duty motor is essential for me, and I’ve had mine for many years. It handles large batches of pizza dough, double recipes of cookies, and enough batter to make a multi-tiered cake, without ever burning out.

I bake cookies on average twice a week, so good quality cookies sheets – that don’t warp or burn the bottoms – are a smart investment.

My point? With certain items, you get what you pay for – and certain tools will absolutely last longer (and work more efficiently) if you go for quality materials.

Let’s take a look!

  • The "Essentials" For Every Baker 1 of 14
    the must have essentials for every baker

    Turning out mouth-watering - and beautiful - baked goods definitely does NOT require a kitchen overflowing with fancy tools and expensive gadgets. Think quality over quantity, and wherever possible go for items that multi-task. These are my "must-haves"!

  • 5-Quart Mixer 2 of 14
    kitchen aid 5 quart mixer

    My 5-quart stand mixer is the workhorse of my kitchen. I use it several times a week to make large quantities of you-name-it (pizza dough, cookies, cakes, quick breads). The bowl is generously sized, the motor heavy duty, and the attachments are of excellent quality. If you love to bake (or want to learn how), this will be your most important purchase.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Spoon Shaped Spatula 3 of 14
    Rubbermaid spoon shaped spatula

    Almost as important as my mixer, I rely on a spatula that will scrape out large quantities of dough cleanly and easily. Most spatulas are flimsy, and wind up bending under the weight of a double batch of cookie dough. Not cool. This version is thick and sturdy, and I love the spoon-shaped head a minor detail that makes all the difference.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons 4 of 14
    Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons

    Obvious, I know. But since you will pull these out every time you bake,  look for cups and spoons with sturdy handles and easy-to-read measurements. Like these.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Digital Food Scale 5 of 14
    oxo kitchen scale

    I'll keep this one simple: if you bake, get a food scale. That is all.

    Okay - need more? Read my post on why I love weighing ingredients. And why you should too.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Heavy Gauge Baking Sheets 6 of 14
    Focus Foodservice baking sheet

    I would rather own one or two of these baking sheets, than a half dozen of a lesser quality. Heavy duty aluminum sheets - that don't warp or buckle- are essential for distributing heat evenly, and turning out perfectly browned and tender cookies.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Offset Spatula 7 of 14
    ateco offset spatula

    A small angled - or "offset" - spatula is helpful for smoothing cake batter, frosting cupcakes, and loosening cakes and bar cookies from their pans. You'll reach for this 4 1/4" size often, but you'll want a larger size (think 10") for frosted layer cakes that have a smooth, professional finish. 

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Great News

  • Metal Mixing Bowls 8 of 14
    Amco stainless steel non skid bowls

    I have a range of metal bowls, from  6″ up to  15″ across - and they get pulled out all the time for various baking tasks. I've had my grandmother's for years, but if I were ever to replace them I'd get these — I love the no-slip bottoms.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Pyrex Measuring Cups 9 of 14
    pyrex measuring cups

    These are a must for measuring liquids. But they have other great uses too from melting butter in the microwave, to mixing salad dressings and pancake batter. And I can personally attest to the fact that they are virtually unbreakable.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Bed Bath and Beyond

  • Cooling Racks 10 of 14
    Baker's Secret Cooling Racks

    If you bake, you need a cooling rack maybe even three or four. And they are great for more than just cooling cookies and cakes.

    Place them over baking sheets for draining breaded chicken cutlets — this ensures that they don't get soggy underneath. They're also great for dipped or glazed cookies and cakes - place the rack over a baking sheet to catch any drips.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Parchment Paper 11 of 14
    Surfas parchment paper

    I'm a huge fan of parchment paper - and I have it in rolls, sheets and even rounds for my cake pans. It's non-stick, makes for easy clean-up and these pre-cut sheets are essential during the holidays, when I'm staging large batches of cookies.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Surfas

  • Cookie Spatula 12 of 14
    Norpro cookie spatula

    Sometimes it's the little things. And if you've ever struggled to wedge a regular sized spatula between your just-baked cookies (only to dent or break them), then you will love this. It's wide enough to support larger, heavier cookies, and very thin to slide easily underneath. 

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Whisks 13 of 14
    Norpro stainless steel whisks

    One of the most inexpensive tools in my kitchen, yet ones I reach for again and again. A large whisk is perfect for blending big quantities of liquid ingredients, as well as being a great makeshift "sifter" for dry ingredients. A large whisk also gently folds sugar into beaten egg whites without deflating them. I love the smaller version for emulsifying dressing ingredients or breaking up one or two eggs.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

  • Custard Cups 14 of 14
    Pyrex custard cups

    I must own at least a dozen of these, and I use them every single day. They are perfect for so many things staging batches of colored icing, sprinkles and chopped nuts. Holding small quantities of ingredients like zests and spices. Melting a tablespoon or two of butter. The list goes on and on.

    Learn more here

    Image credit: Amazon

Read more from Sheri on Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
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