I hope you are all well and enjoying some baking time! I love being alone with my own thoughts in the kitchen and making a delicious treat for everyone to enjoy. If you need inspiration for a twist on a classic home comfort, have a look at my latest recipe post for One Crust Apple Pie.
The arrival of Spring always makes me think of clearing out unwanted things and creating a more minimal approach to clutter, and the kitchen is no exception. The market is flooded with new tech, gadgets and gizmos, and it is easy to be side-tracked from what the bare essentials are when it comes to baking. In my next two posts, I am going to give you a baker’s dozen run down of my ESB Baking Essentials; 13 of the ingredients and equipment that I use most regularly, starting with equipment.
Baking equipment is part of the fun of baking – choosing the colours and individual bowls and spoons that will help you to do certain jobs easier and faster. However, I feel like baking doesn’t need to be an expensive activity, if you know which bits and pieces you absolutely need. That’s why I want to encourage beginners, or those on a smaller budget, to be able to bake without the need to splash out on the most up to date stand mixer. Reading back through my backlog of recipes, I was fascinated to find out which pieces of equipment I use most often, and those which I tend to push to the back of cupboard.
Below, is my list of equipment that I think are baking essentials. Often these have duplicate uses that allow you to experiment with different recipes.
1.A Big Mixing Bowl
A stalwart in my baking toolkit. An essential for mixing up dough, or almost any other baking mixture you can imagine, and it goes hand in hand with my next choice – a wooden spoon. A big bowl has featured almost every recipe I have ever made and gives you the flexibility to choose what tools you want to use for mixing.
2. A Wooden Spoon
I have always liked putting a bit of elbow grease into the bakes I am creating, rather than using electric whisks or stand mixers, so a wooden spoon is an obvious choice for my essentials. For home baking, you can make almost anything from scratch with a wooden spoon and mixing bowl. The joy of a wooden spoon is more you use one, the more it becomes more comfortable as the handle softens and moulds to your hand. My favourite wooden spoons are ones with long handles, because as well as their major job of mixing, you can use them for shaping biscuits, like my Summer Snaps, and indenting freeform loaves of bread.
3. Baking Trays
Baking trays are essentials for baking anything from biscuits to bread. A good non-stick baking tray gives you confidence to know that the masterpieces you create will slide off perfectly every time. However, baking trays can be a variety of prices so supermarket sets are a good place to start, if you just want to get baking!
4. Cake Tins
To bake cakes, you need a cake tin or two to allow you to experiment with different recipes, whether you want to make a simple sponge or something more complicated. Two essentials for me are a 18cm round tin, which I use for most cakes, and a 20cm square tin that I use for tray-bakes and fudge. I also suggest non-stick tins that have a loose bottom or are spring-form as it makes it easy to release your finished cakes.
5. Electric Scales
Scales have always been an important of part of a baking toolkit to precisely measure ingredients for the perfect bake. However, with the invention of the electric scales, it makes the job of weighing dry ingredients and wet ones alike, just as easy. It also saves space as most designs are sleek and stream-lined.
6. A Sieve
Sieving is a process that might get overlooked during the baking process but sieving flour is an essential step to add air to cake mixes. It can also be used for pureeing fruit and removing unexpected lumps from dry ingredients, particularly dusting finished bakes with icing sugar! I prefer a metal sieve to a plastic one as it is easier to clean and keep nicely.
7. A set of cutlery
I know this is pretty obvious as most kitchens have a set of knives, spoons and forks but they can used for baking in a number of ways. Forks can be used to crimp and prick pastry, table knifes for cutting around templates or cutting up finished bakes and spoons for measuring out ingredients. As it is equipment we have to hand, it’s interesting to think how many baking tasks we can use them for to save money and space on gadgets.
8. A Spatula
A spatula is a useful addition to a baking toolkit and fun to choose, as they come many colours and designs. From scraping bowls clean of mixture to pressing biscuit bases flat into a tin, it is effective in more situations than you would think. I tend to favour full flexible plastic variety as they are easy to clean. Mine (pictured above) I bought in Scotland in a baking shop in Edinburgh, when I first did the English Singing Baker on stage so it brings back happy memories too!
9. A Whisk
A balloon whisk is one of the main three pieces of handheld kit you use in a kitchen, particularly for baking. From whisking up egg whites to keeping a sauce smooth, it is a handy piece of kit and a must for any budding baker. You do need more elbow grease than using an electric whisk but you also get a feel for how certain mixtures are meant to be and control how much you need to whisk them.
10. Greaseproof Paper
I know that greaseproof paper isn’t an actual piece of kit but it is an invaluable addition to any baking toolkit. From lining tins to wrapping up left over dough and keeping finished bakes fresh, it is an essential for me.
11. A Sharp Knife
I don’t pretend to know a lot about kitchen knives, but a sharp paring knife can be a very useful tool when it comes to baking. Surprisingly, it can be used in a variety of ways from testing a cooked cake, to cutting fresh fruit for a filling and it gives you a sharper alternative to a table knife for slicing servings of your bakes.
12. A Rolling Pin
A rolling pin is a traditional addition to a baking toolkit. From bashing biscuits for a biscuit base to rolling out biscuit dough or pastry, it is a must for anyone bitten by the baking bug. Rolling pins are made mostly from wood but you can buy plastic ones, specifically for rolling out fondant icing.
13. A Small Saucepan
Finally, a slightly off-side addition to my Baking Essentials, a small saucepan. Although you don’t often think a saucepan is part of a baking kit but it is invaluable for melting butter and making bases for flapjacks, as well as heating through milk for enriched doughs.
Thank you for popping by my blog. In the comments, I’d love to know the one baking essential you couldn’t live without – you never know, I might have left one out! Join me next time for the second part of my ESB Baking Essentials series and I hope to see you then.
Until then, Happy Baking!
English Singing Baker x