Are you stuck at home during quarantine or the holiday season and looking for a new way to pass time? Have you binged too many episodes of the Great British Baking Show on Netflix and you feel like having a crack at making some of your own delicious treats? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to bake but couldn’t figure out where to start?
You’ve come to the right place. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about the most essential tools you’ll need to start baking.
(Not included in this list: an oven. Even a toaster oven can make excellent baked goods. If you don’t have either, there are myriad no-bake desserts you can set up in the refrigerator for a few hours.)
Top 15 Must Have Essential Tools for a Home Baker
With that out of the way, let’s start with our list of essentials for a home baker
1. Mixing bowls
You’re going to need at least two decent-sized (4-5 quarts) mixing bowls with high sides. But really, you can never have too many mixing bowls. The more bowls you have, the better.
Stainless steel and sturdy plastic are the best materials to use (aluminum isn’t recommended because it reacts with acidic ingredients and may leave an aftertaste). Throw in one or two glass bowls in there too, in the event that you have to heat an ingredient in the microwave or over a water bath.
However, if you are not worried about the weight, ceramic, thick porcelain or pyrex glass mixing bowls are our favourite. Not only are they microwave and dishwasher safe, you can put them straight in the oven or use them with a hand mixer without worrying about scuffing, denting or breaking them.
Whichever one you choose, you can get them as a set so they are stackable and easier to store.
2. Measuring cups and spoons
Accuracy is crucial in baking. Ingredient amounts are precisely written in all recipes for a reason. Just one extra teaspoon of baking soda, for example, can make your cake rise unevenly and give it a terrible taste. You will use these measuring tools every time you bake, so it’s worth the investment.
Stainless steel measuring spoons with engraved labels are the best option here. Plastic works too, but they are not the most stable when handling very light or very dense ingredients. You will not be able to use plastic with hot ingredients, either. Avoid tools with printed measuring labels, as those will wash away very quickly.
As for measuring cups, you want a precise stainless steel set for dry ingredients and a pyrex glass set with easy-to-read measurements for liquid or wet ingredients. The latter comes with a handle and spout for ease of handling and pouring. They are also oven, dishwasher and microwave proof.
3. Digital kitchen scale
Inaccurate flour measurement is the most common reason for failed bakes. There’s so much room for error when scooping flour from its container to a mixing bowl – five people doing it the same way will end up with a different amount each time.
All the best baking recipes are measured to the gram for peak accuracy. And honestly, weighing out dry ingredients is much quicker than scooping and spooning. If you see yourself baking more than once or twice a month in the near future, a digital scale is more than worth the investment – you can find a pretty decent unit for as low as $15.
4. Baking tins and pans
There is a wide variety of baking pans out there and you’ll need to choose which ones you think you’ll use most often.
A rimmed baking sheet will take you far beyond making cookies, you can use it to roast vegetables, make a pizza, and many other tray bake recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert. These come in many sizes, so make sure to measure the inside of your oven before buying one. Ideally you’ll want one that is just slightly smaller than the shelf in your oven.
Aluminum or steel with non-stick coating is the best choice here and you should really buy at least two for your peace of mind. English scones are perfectly baked on a pre-heated tray.
If you do not mind the heft and the slightly smaller sizes, pyrex baking trays are great. Burnt on stains can easily be soaked and rinsed off. The life span of these are typically longer than steel or aluminium ones which are prone to rust, dents and scuffs. After all, there is only so much non-stick coating can take.
Loaf pans are pretty versatile, too. You can use them to make a good brioche or simple banana bread. A pair of sturdy 9.5 x 5-inch loaf pans is a good place to start.
A 6- or 12-cup muffin pan (depending on your oven size), a round cake tin, and a square brownie pan rounds off your entire basic baking vessel needs.
Round or square cake tins
These are typically 8 to 9-inches across or in diameter. Most recipes will call for approximately that size, so you can make your liner taller or shorter to accommodate the recipe. But, if you would like to start a good collection, look also into sandwich tins which are lower and used for layered sponges like the Victorian Sponge, Layered Chocolate Ganache or Black Forest.
Cup cake tins
These are essential for baking activities with children. They range from a medium pan with 12-hole to a big pan with 24-hole mini cup cakes.
Springform Cake Pan
It is not essential but if you would like the ease of removing the cakes especially the cheese cake once it has set, a springform cake pan is your answer. The pan has a latch on lock and spring action. It also comes with a removable bottom and is available in different sizes. The idea is you do not have to flip the pan upside down, just simply use the quick release latch to unlock and expand the ring so it can be lifted up. Again, these are available in different diameters 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10-inch or as a set of three.
5. Parchment paper, silicone baking mat, muffin & cupcake liners
Lining your baking vessel with non-stick material makes release and clean-up much easier.
A roll of parchment paper will last you dozens of bakes. If you want to go reusable, a good quality silicone mat can be used not just for baking but also for rolling out dough, roasting vegetables, and cooking meat. Silpat is the gold standard of silicone baking mats. Again, make sure to measure the inside of your oven and double-check product descriptions before purchasing.
Muffins and cupcakes are some of the easiest things to make, and a set of 100 cupcake liners will last you ages.
6. Wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks
You will need good quality tools to mix your ingredients, and there are specific uses for each.
A sturdy wooden spoon is good for all kinds of mixing and stirring. A silicone spatula is perfect for scraping down the sides of a bowl. A metal whisk is perfect for beating air into your egg white meringue mixture. One or two of each will last you a long time.
7. Hand mixer and/or stand mixer
Mixing ingredients by hand is much more rustic and satisfying. Certainly, many bakers and cooks have gone their whole lives without using machines for mixing.
But if you’re going to be baking often, investing in at least a hand mixer is a good idea. Electric hand mixers can whip cream, mix eggs, mash potatoes, and mix frosting in next to no time.
Stand mixers are much more expensive, heavier, and they take up a lot of space. They are a considerable commitment, but certainly worth the price and counter space if you’re going to be baking often. Invest in a good stand mixer even if it costs a big more and you will never regret it.
RELATED: Top 10 Best Kitchen Stand Mixers
8. Rolling pin
A good quality wood rolling pin will last you a lifetime and will help you roll out bread dough, pie/pastry crust, biscuits, and cookies. Take the humble rolling pin further with an adjustable rolling pin. These wooden rolling pins come with removable guide discs allowing for different roll thickness for an even and smooth dough.
9. Oven thermometer/meat thermometer
Although not essential, but definitely in the ‘nice to have’ category, an oven thermometer may come in handy if you’re struggling with oven baking. Inaccurate oven temperatures are another common reason for failed bakes. Even ovens with digital temperature readouts may not be completely accurate. If you’re going to be baking a lot, it would be best to know the actual internal temperature of your oven, so you can adjust your settings if necessary.
If you want to take that a step further, measuring the internal temperature of your bake is infinitely more accurate than using a skewer to test for doneness. A simple digital food thermometer goes for less than $10 and can be used for cakes and meat.
10. Cooling rack
A hot pan will continue cooking what’s on it even after you’ve pulled it out of the oven. Transferring your fresh bake to a wire rack allows for better air circulation and even cooling.
Sifting your dry ingredients together ensures even distribution. While many experienced bakers say that sifting flour isn’t 100% necessary, a fine-mesh sieve can still be used for draining wet ingredients or dusting powdered sugar on top of baked goods.
12. Kitchen shears
You wouldn’t want to use office scissors for kitchen work. A pair of dedicated kitchen shears will help you cut parchment paper, open up ingredient packets, snip fresh herbs, and even cut up meat.
13. Cookie scoop
If you’re going to be baking a lot of cookies, investing in a cookie scoop is imperative. Measuring out equal balls of dough before baking ensures that all your cookies will bake at the same rate and come out of the oven perfectly shaped and even. The trigger release makes the measuring process so much faster, too.
Cookie scoops can also be used to measure out cupcake/muffin batter, meatballs, and of course, ice cream.
14. Pastry brush
If you’re going to be making bread or pie, that brush of egg wash on top will take it to the next level. You can also use a pastry brush to grease your pans or parchment paper before pouring in your batter.
15. Pastry mat
Of course, you can roll out dough on your clean countertop, but a non-stick silicone pastry mat makes cleanup much easier. The printed measurements are a great guide for how much or how little rolling you need to do.
Baking at home only seems intimidating at first but it’s really quite easy once you get started. Once you have your mixing tools and baking vessels, you’re pretty much all set. You’ll just need to hunt down the ingredients and give it a go.
If one day you find yourself enjoying this new hobby and branching out with different types of pies and pastries and layered cakes, you will be experienced enough know what quality tools to get, too.
Now that you have this list of tools to start with, you only need some basic pantry ingredients to start whipping up delicious treats. Flour, salt, sugar, eggs, butter, baking powder, and baking soda combine to make an infinite number of yummy treats that you can easily make at home.