Tool Time

by bakelikeacook

If you have ever been in a bakery or professional kitchen, you may find a a few extra tools of the trade. But let me tell you that you don’t need much to make a great loaf of artisan bread or a fresh batch of cookies.  But here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite things:

The Kitchen Aid Mixer: the Grand Poobah of the kitchen.  It mixes, kneads, beats and whips.  With a rap sheet like that it sounds like it should be locked away forever!  But it can do all plus you can buy a sundry of attachments for it to make fresh pasta, grind meats, etc.  One thing I may recommend is having an extra bowl. It makes it easy to make multiple recipes in a row

The Scale: ok here’s the deal-go to any professional kitchen and you will likely only find a good scale to weigh all the dry (and sometimes wet) ingredients. There are very good scales out there that don’t cost a lot of money. The benefit of the scale is that you can then know you are adding the right amount of ingredients and you will have great success with consistent results.  It’s good to have one that can measure in both grams and ounces.   A personal favorite is an Escali brand scale, available at Sur la Table for about $30.  It’s small, plastic, can weigh ingredients up to 11 pounds and has been a trooper despite the numerous times I have dropped it!

Bowl Scraper: truly one of my favorite tools in the kitchen.  I can’t really be without one.  These are plastic handleless spatulas essentially that have so many uses.  They can obviously scrape bowls, portion dough for shaping (as in “Nice Buns“), clean off the counter, scooping, hand mixing, smoothing the sides of cakes, and yes, even for spackling  and scraping gum off your shoe.  Trust me. I have done all of the above.  Best tool ever.  Period.

Bench Scraper: the close cousin of the bowl scraper, but made of metal. This durable tool can do a lot of tasks as well. It is especially good for portioning dough, cutting dough, scraping the counter and smoothing cakes.  I know it sounds a lot like the bowl scraper, but it is more rigid

Measuring Spoons:  great for those times when you should be sure to not put too much baking soda or baking power in the cake batter

Measuring Cups:  if you are not using a scale, then these are the next best thing.  Although truth be told–if you are making a large recipe the last thing you want to do is scoop out 10 cups of anything!! They typically come in sets. A standard set is plenty but if you have the room, they are available in odd sizes cups as well (2/3, 3/4, etc). Unnecessary, but nice to have

Ring cutters:  it’s always a good idea to have a good set of nesting or concentric circle cutters.  Sets can range from few to many and the price follows from low to high.  A huge set is not necessary since anyone who works in a kitchen will tell you–there are a few that you will favor for all your projects…and those will inevitably be the ones that go missing.  Keep a close eye out for your set and return them to their home right after you use them

The offset spatula:  they come in a variety of sizes but one large and one small can cover a variety of jobs and great for frosting cakes

Pastry brush: great for brushing on melted butter, dusting flour off doughs and brushing on egg wash.  Truth be told, my favorite brushes are the ones I buy at the art stores.  They are cheaper, softer and last longer!!

Ice cream scoops: EXCELLENT for portioning out cookies, muffins or anything you need to be portioned out evenly.

Rolling pins:  great for rolling out cut out cookie doughs, pie/tart doughs or laminated doughs. There are many sizes and shapes but a straight pin (sometimes called a French pin) is good for most jobs.

The Microplane Zester:  Once a woodworking tool, now one of the the most popular tools in the kitchen for both savory and sweet applications.  Use it to zest citrus, finely grate chocolate and even cheese.  And fyi–the hardware store is a great place to shop for tools and gadgets that can multitask in the kitchen.

So these things are not an absolute must but they make my life a bit easier, especially the bowl scraper!  I must admit, there are a lot of tools and gadgets out there. Don’t be seduced!!  It’s easy to get carried away.  But it is also easy to make it happen with something else (for example, use a wine bottle for a rolling pin).  Make sure the tools you buy are ones you will really use.  And if it can spackle holes in your walls….bonus!!

Happy baking!!!!…see inspiration below!!  : )