Jumping into the boat of baking could sometimes be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. There a so many baking gadgets, pans and accessories but which ones are the basic that You need to get started? You don’t need to buy everything at the same time. All you need are basic baking tools to get you started and that’s what I’m going to share with you in this post.
Every once in a while I do my cupboard clean up which for this year happened this week. While I was doing my clean up and organization, I was amazed on how much baking tools I’ve accumulated through the years (about 8 years of baking). Some of them were used only once or twice, some over used and some were even in the box, untouched. It’s easy to accumulate a lot of baking tools and kitchen tools, before you knew it, they’ve taken over your cabinets, no space or anything else. But the question I asked myself was do I even need all of them? Of course not! But I want them 🙂 and that’s a different story. When you are starting to get into baking, you should focus on what you need, the basic stuff more than what you want or nice to have. Basic baking tools are the essential tools you need to get started. Tools that you want are the “nice to have”, meaning you can do away without and use substitution kitchen tools. In this post, I will share with you my top 10 Basic Baking Tools that find essential and a good starting point for every new baker. Once you have this tools, there are endless possibilities on what you can make. From simple cookie and brownies to elegant cake and homemade fresh bread There are some of these that are a “must have” and priority, and some you can buy when you are going to bake something that needs it. If you are new into baking, you probably need to invest in all of this little by little. But if your already into baking, you probably have all of these. Let’s get started on our check list.
Baking Tools Must Have
- Measuring Cups (liquid & dry) and Spoons: These were the first item in my list to buy when started baking. Baking requires measuring the ingredients and not just estimating it. Baking requires precision, and although some recipes requires weighing the ingredients, a lot of recipes uses measuring cups and spoons. I prefer using the stainless steel measuring cups and spoons as opposed to plastic cups. Although they have the same measurement, stainless steel measuring cup and spoon last longer so you don’t have to buy often. You can buy measuring cups and spoons separately or you can buy them as a package, sometimes they even come with the mixing bowl set.
- Mixing Bowl – A good and appropriate size mixing bowl makes your life easier when it comes to baking. A proper baking mixing bowl are usually not shallow so as to avoid the ingredients from flying all over your kitchen. You can buy this as a set that comes in different sizes, and you can choose from stainless steel, ceramic, plastic and glass. I have both stainless steel and glass mixing bowl. Th stainless steel are lighter but the glass mixing bowl are better option when you start making food video.
- Whisk and Spatula – From measuring cups and spoons, to mixing bowl, the next thing you need is a good set of whisk and spatula. You can buy a set with different sizes, from wood, plastic, stainless and silicone. I recommend that you get the silicone spatula as they work wonders when it comes to mixing and scraping the ingredients. Silicone spatula are more flexible so they bend easily when running through the sides of the bowl. It leaves a clean bowl and less chances of leftover batter in the bowl.
- Baking Pans – Now this part becomes tricky because the size of pans depends of the serving portion that you normally bake and how often you bake.You don’t have to buy them all at once, you can buy them when you need them. As you bake and bake more, you won’t even realize that you have accumulated more pans than what you need. But if you want to keep it simple and your kitchen less cluttered, stick to the basic pan size that suits your baking serving portion.
- Big Batch Baking: I would say 9-inch cake pans, 9-inch square pans, 12-count muffin pans, 9-inch pie plate, 1 9×13 baking pan, 1 24-count mini muffin pan, 1 9×5 inch (or 8×4 inch) loaf pan.
- Medium Batch Baking: 7 or 8-inch cake pan and square pans, 6-count muffin pan, 7-inch pie plate, 11×9 baking pan, 1 12-count mini muffin pan, 8×4 inch loaf pan.
- Small Batch Baking: 5 -6-inch cake pan and square pans, 6-count muffin pan, 5-6-inch pie plate, 8×7 baking pan, 1 12-count mini muffin pan, 8×4 inch or 5×7 mini loaf pan.
- Hand Mixer – Although there are recipes that doesn’t require a mixer, 80-90% probably will need one, and this is one MUST thing that you should at least invest on. I’ve bake for years using only and mixer and I managed to get buy just fine, but if you have the budget to buy a stand mixer that would be a great investment too. Stand mixers are such a wonderful helper for recipes that requires longer time of mixing, like buttercream frosting, bread dough and meringue just to name a few. But for starter, a simple hand-mixer is a must. I have a 5-speed kitchen aid hand-mixer which I truly love. Invest in a good one as it makes a difference in how smooth the movement of the whisk and how much you can adjust the speed settings.
- Oven Mittens – Definitely a MUST have. The last thing that you want is to burn your hands from taking out a hot pan from the oven. I bought a silicone oven mittens and they are pretty amazing, better than cloth material.
- Oven Thermometer – You can be business as usual without this, but it’s likely that you’ll have days where in your baked products are something that you’ll be proud to share and some days that are just total disaster. Even with an oven thermometer there are chances of having a failed product, how much more if you don’t have it. I’ve done my baking for few years without using an oven thermometer and I though I was fine until I encountered a post on how to calibrate an oven. I remembered I was experimenting on cookie recipe when I saw that post. I got curious and did the test for my oven to check if it was properly calibrated, I was shocked with the result. My oven was off by 25F higher. Meaning when I set it to bake at 350F, it’s actually 375F inside! That made me decide to buy an oven thermometer. Oven Temperature is crucial in baking, even a slight difference makes a huge difference especially for products that require minimum baking time like cookies, ore delicate products like cake. So I encourage you to buy an oven thermometer, it’s a practical and useful baking tool investment and it’s not even that expensive. But if you really do not want to, make sure to calibrate your oven
- Cooling Rack – Although not common, I chose this to be in my essential list. Cooling rack is something that is commonly over looked by some people. When I started baking, I used to leave my baked goodies (cookies and scones in particular) to cool in the pan, which later on I discovered should be a No, No. Baked products that are left to cool in the pan (unless specified by the recipe) could get dry and hard. This is because the remaining heat in the pan will continue to bake the goodies even though you don’t notice it. The baking should stop as soon as you take the goods out of the oven, and having the baked products cool in a cooling rack will stop the baking process faster, the open bottom of the cooling rack will allow the air to circulate thus cooling the bottom and the top of the products faster. This is particularly useful if you start baking cookies.
- Substitution: A simple kitchen wire mesh or wire rack will do the job as well. As long as the bottom is open to allow the air to circulate to cool the bake product, that should be ok.
- Silicone Mat – I would guess that majority of those who start baking wouldn’t even consider buying this. I was just like that, I did not start using silicone mat until just few years ago, and boy it made huge difference. First, it is reusable which makes it budget friendly in the long run, second there is no cutting needed as compared to when using parchment paper. Silicone Mat are easy to clean, and specially for cookies, there is less burning and browning, plus it is so easy to lift the baked products, no sticking at all.
- Substitution: Use a parchment paper to line your pan or cookie sheet
- Kitchen Weighing Scale – Depending on where you are, recipe ingredients could either be in cups or by weight. Although most recipes calls for cups measurement, they are recipes that requires absolute precision. With weighing ingredients, you get the exact amount specified in the recipe, 1 kg is 1 kg but 1 cup is not always 1 cup especially of you are not measuring it properly (spoon-level technique). With cups measurement, you could be slightly off by few tablespoons and you wouldn’t even noticed it until you get the baked products out of the oven, or you started mixing the batter. A few tablespoons of flour for example could make a cookie though, and few tablespoon less could make it thin. Weighing scale is not expensive, so do yourself a favor and invest on one. I love using my weighing scale when making bread to divide the portion or when making cookies.
A Very Basic Start
If what you want is just very basic start to test the water, buy at least the first 6 items. These items will be enough to get you starting. You do not have to buy all the baking pans at once, buy only what you need for the time being.
Baking Tools Nice To Have
- Stand-Mixer – Stand-mixer could be quite expensive specially the good quality branded stand-mixer. So unless You are really invested and decided the baking is really something that You enjoy doing and want to do, I suggest do not buy a stand-mixer yet until you are sure. You can definitely make delicious bake product without using stand-mixer, a lot of recipe work with just simple hand-mixer. Only If you plan to really get serious with baking, then maybe this is something that you would like to start saving for. I got mine after 5 years of baking, it took me that long to convince myself that I need and want it. When I finally got it, it was one of the best baking tool investment that I did and I cannot be more thankful. Stand-mixer makes the process easier. You can do other things while the mixer is working, multi tasking saves a lot of time.
- Substitution: Invest on a good quality hand-mixer
- Cookie Scooper – Cookie scoops are such a nice kitchen helper. I used it for dividing cupcakes and muffins, for making truffle and most especially for portioning cookies. Even portion are important especially if you are baking several pieces of bake product so that they get baked at the same time. Having slightly different portion could end up having some being over baked and some under-bake.
- Substitution: If you do not want to buy this, you can use a regular spoon to divide the batter, or use your measuring cups for to scoop cupcake and muffin batter. You can use measuring spoons to divide cookie dough into portion, or better yet, use a kitchen weighing scale to divide the the cookie dough for a more exact size.
- Cookie Cutter – If you want to make cut out cookies for gift giving, cookie cutter is very handy to have, although again you will survive without this.
- Pastry Cutter – Pastry Cutter are use to cut and mix butter/shortening/lard with the flour to make pastry like scones, biscuits, pie crust other pastry that calls for manual mixing. Again, unless you are working on baked products like this, you wont immediately need to buy this.
- Substitution: If you do not want to but this, You can use a large cheese grater to cut the butter into small pieces, this is my preference when making scones or biscuits. I find it easier and faster and it produces a more even pea size butter. You can also use old school method of using two knife which I personally find slower and time consuming. A food processor is a better option, but that is something that would be too expensive to invest on when you are just starting. Stick to the cheese grater tool as substitute, you probably have that one already.
- Sifter – Some recipe calls for sifting the dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and leavening agents. It’s a nice to have but can easily be replaced by a common kitchen tool
- Substitution – A sieve or a mesh strainer will do the good just perfectly, and you may already have this in your kitchen.
- Wooden Ruler – It is always very handy to have a wooden ruler whenever you need one.
- Pastry Brush – Helpful when you need to brush top of pastry or bread with egg wash before baking.
- Icing Tip – If you fancy making cupcakes and decorating them with Buttercream icing, then invest in at least 1 – 3 icing decorating tip. I accumulated a lot of icing decorating tip, but in the end I used my Wilton 1M most of the time. You can buy it individually, or you can buy it as bundle.
- Substitution: You can use a spoon or spatula to frost the top of the cakes, this gives a nice free style rustic look. You can also use a sandwich bag, cut the tip and make a swirl on top of the cupcakes. It may not be as fancy as using a icing tip, but it still work.
- Rolling Pin – Rolling pin might not be something that you will immediately need when you start baking, unless you jump start to making crust and breads. So you can do away without this immediately, again, buy it when you get there.
- Substitution: You can use a wine bottle instead
- Dough/Bench Scrapper – This is very useful when you make bread, pastry and pie.
- Substitution: You can use a spatula or back of a knife (not the sharp side)
Ok, there you go, I hope you find this useful and helpful. So off you go shopping! Just remember, stick to the basic MUST have rather than the Nice to Have. Enjoy!
- 10 Essential Baking Tools for Beginners
- 10 Essential Baking Tools for Small Batch Baking
- Baking Basic 101 Series #1: How to Tell If Your Oven is Lying to You?
- Baking Basics 101 Series #2: Understanding Oven and Baking Temperature
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