Being a beginner baker can be daunting, so that's why The Daily Meal has put together a list of tools and gadgets that aspiring pastry chefs just can't do without. Whether you dream of freshly baked snickerdoodles, a homemade apple pie with a perfect filling, or an indulgent dark chocolate cake, dreams won't become reality without a properly equipped kitchen. So what do you need?
We pored through our library of cookbooks and also polled members of our Culinary Content Network for some basic advice. The good news? Getting started doesn't require a huge investment in equipment, and many of these things are items you may already have in your kitchen. By no means is our list meant to be exhaustive in the sense that it will cover every baking eventuality, but this should be enough to get you started on some basic recipes.
Oven temperatures can diverge wildly from the stated settings. If you're planning on doing any baking, braising, or roasting in your oven (or anything at all), spend a few bucks on an oven thermometer to find out what temperature your oven is really at when you set it to say, 350 degrees.
While many baking recipes geared toward home cooks give measurements in terms of volume, for the greatest accuracy, you'll want to work in terms of weight, especially with dry ingredients. That's because ingredients like flour and sugar can have chunks if not sifted, or settle, and the weight of a cup of flour can vary dramatically because of this. Take the safe road and know exactly how much sugar you've measured out with a kitchen scale. Look for ones with a glass surface for easy cleanup, and for the greatest accuracy, go digital.
For some people, a whisk is a whisk, but for people who plan on making meringue, they might want to look into balloon whisks.
Balloon whisks are big and, well, balloon-shaped, which means they're great for incorporating air into egg whites or anything else that needs to be fluffed up. Balloon equals air.
Choose stainless steel bowls for ease of cleanup and maximum durability. Have on hand at least three different sizes — small, medium, and large.
Choose heat-resistant silicone spatulas for the greatest versatility. That way, you won't be confined to just folding batter with them. You'll be able to safely use them to make omelettes and scrambled eggs too, without having them melt.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
When baking, chances are you'll want to stick to the directions, and you'll need to be able to measure out ingredients precisely as they're written. Choose stainless steel ones for superior durability. For ease of use, you may choose to invest in a glass wet measure cup as well as a set of dry measure cups. Why? Because wet measure cups are easier to use with liquids than dry measure cups, which are meant to be filled to the top rather than up to a line. Imagine picking up a dry measure cup full of liquid — sploosh!
If you plan on working with dough at all, a rolling pin is a must.
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