Baking can feel like a daunting challenge, especially when your kids tell you at 9 p.m. that they need 24 decorated cupcakes for school… the next morning. Even when you’re not on a time crunch, creating that perfect cake or cookie or pie can seem like a goal for only the most adept bakers. But the truth is that anyone can bake, and excel at it too, especially with the right tools on hand. This list of essential baking tools will give you everything you need to meet nearly every baking challenge. Now, just add your favorite recipes, a dose of patience (with yourself!), and a big appetite.
Silicone Baking Mat
Use it to replace parchment, wax paper, foil or just a greased cookie sheet. Silicone mats can go in the oven, so your sheet pans will come out (mostly) clean every time you need to use them. No more baked-on chocolate or tacky jam spills that are impossible to clean.
Use it to measure your ingredients to the perfect amount every time. Professionals and serious home bakers alike weigh dry ingredients like flour and sugar for pastries, or cuts of dough for uniform pie and pizza crusts.
Silicone Pastry Mat
Use it to protect your countertop from spills and messy dough, and to create a non-stick surface for your baking project. Some pastry mats have helpful hints—like measurements, conversions and substitutions—printed right onto the mat.
Use it to do what a regular spatula can’t: scrape the sides of bowls, fold ingredients together and spoon out batter. A silicone spatula is a fun tool for kids too, since it makes it easy for them to eat every last bit of (edible) batter in the bowl.
Use it to cut butter into your dry ingredients so the dough gets mixed thoroughly and evenly. This is essential for baking things like pie, where too-big clumps of flour or butter can lead to an uneven or soggy crust.
Use it to mix ingredients for sauces and dressings, beat eggs, and whip cream until it’s fluffy. Get rid of that “mixing fork” once and for all: Using a whisk is so much easier, plus it’s a great little workout for those arm muscles.
Use it to combine dry ingredients when the recipe calls for sifting, as with some cookie and cake recipes. Sifting helps mix the components evenly and keeps them from clumping when you add them to wet ingredients.
Use it to roll out dough for pies, crackers, tarts and pizzas to a thin and even consistency. If you use a rolling pin with a non-stick surface, you won’t have to flour it every time. A raised handle is a bonus too, saving the wear and tear on your fingers and hands.
Use it to get those hot goodies out of the pan and onto a surface that lets them cool from all angles. Freshly baked treats (especially cookies) left on a pan tend to burn, since the heat lingers on the surface even after the pan comes out of the oven. A cooling rack keeps your cookies looking and tasting as perfect as the moment you slid them out.
Use it to bake all the things you’ve been wanting to make. A good bakeware set will include a variety of pans with non-stick surfaces, allowing you to easily make cakes, loaves, cookies, cupcakes, pies and much more.
Use it to know exactly when your baked goods are done, so you don’t burn them when you’re multitasking. Since double ovens are increasingly popular, you might want a timer that has multiple digital clocks built in.
Use it to cut and serve that perfectly triangular slice of pie, quiche, cake or tart, and to let you easily slide the first piece out of the pan without wrecking it. Serrated edges cut smoothly through the pie and the crust too, so every slice looks like it was plated by a professional pastry chef.
Nice to Haves
Ready to take your baking skills to the next level? While the essential baking tools above can accomplish most feats, these specialty items will up your game when it comes to candy, cupcakes and other favorites.
Candy Thermometer for making hard candies and jams
Pastry Brush for adding an egg-white coating anytime you want to create a glossy finish
Cookie Scoop or Cookie Press for shaping perfectly uniform cookies every time
Bent Icing Knife for frosting desserts without making a mess
Cupcake Corer for adding fun fillings to your cupcakes
Silicone Decorating Bottle Kit for pro-level piping
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