What baking equipment do I need for my cakes & desserts?
So many people derive great satisfaction and a sense of purpose from baking cakes, biscuits, muffins and other delicious goodies for friends and loved ones.
Whether you relish the challenge of perfecting a complicated recipe or you're more of a home-style baker (whipping up treats just like grandma used to make them), there is a stock-standard selection of baking tools and essentials that will ensure you have everything at hand to bake up a storm.
It's worth keeping in mind that a lot of what's considered important in baking supplies overlaps with other essential kitchen items. Bowls, measuring equipment and mixing tools all fit under that category, and you'll find them listed in our guide - What are the essentials in kitchen tools and utensils?
Once you've got your basic kitchen essentials sorted, the next items on your list should be as follows:
Baking tins, pans & sheets
Glass, ceramic, silicone and metal baking tins, pans and sheets all have their differing pros and cons. It really comes down to what you're baking, personal preference or - in some cases - what you're most familiar with, or comfortable, using. Here are some things to bear in mind:
Light-coloured metal bakeware delivers a very even browning finish - the darker the metal, the darker the browning. Try to avoid storing any food baked in metal or aluminium cookware because, after awhile, the compounds react with the acid in the food and infuses it with a metallic flavour.
A lot of people consider switching from metal, glass or ceramic dishes to silicone because of its ability to withstand baking temperatures. Lining your dish with silicone is a great way to ensure your baked goods can be removed from the dish or tray with ease. Baked goods tend to brown less when using silicone, as it's not as good at heat conduction as ceramics and metals.
Glass is excellent at heat conduction, which can be both good and bad. It's bad if what your cooking contains a lot of sugar because it will burn before the rest of the mixture is properly cooked. But, if you tend to make a lot of casseroles where browning is less of a consideration, glass bakeware provides excellent results.
Like glass, ceramic bakeware does a great job of conducting heat, which makes it less suitable for baking sweeter dishes. A big advantage of ceramic is its versatility. Because of its design finish, a lot of ceramic bakeware can also be used for serving - pies, quiches and the like can go straight from the oven to table. Additionally, the heat conduction of ceramics means contents stay warmer longer, resulting in tastier food and heaps of praise from your guests.
The importance of a good bench mixer or food mixer can't be understated. They come with a range of attachments and special features designed to help you get the best results when it comes to beating, folding or whisking.
If you don't have the space or the budget for a food mixer, then a stick mixer or a food processor can do the trick but, if you're someone who loves to lick the beaters, nothing can replace a mixer.
Sifting your baking ingredients and flours avoids clumping, which makes mixing easier and provides a superior cake batter. Whether you chose a handle or hand sifter/sieve comes down to personal preference.
Pastry brushes are used for glazing either pastries or filo pastry with melted butter. They're also handy for dusting off excess icing sugar on cupcakes and the like.
A time-honoured way of checking whether your cake has fully baked is to poke the mix with a skewer. If there's wet mix on the skewer, your cake needs more time in the oven. If your skewer comes out residue-free, it's all done and ready for cooling. A skewer may be a simple item but it's worth its weight in gold when baking.
Sometimes called a palate spatula or offset spatula, a palette knife is not to be confused with a regular spatula. A palate spatula is much more efficient in spreading icing onto cake tops or cupcakes with a minimum of fuss and mess compared to a mixing spatula. Whether you go with plastic or metal is your individual preference.
Piping Bags & Icing Sets
Make decorating cakes fun by equipping yourself with some piping bags and icing sets - an absolute must when it comes to your cake decorating supplies. Load icing mix or even melted chocolate into the bag, select the kind of nozzle for the finish you want and then let the creative juices (and icing) flow.