living a well tended life... at any age

a baker’s dozen, part one

Most people assume that I have a kitchen full of fancy baking utensils and gadgets.

I don’t.

In fact, I bet I have fewer items than you think, and most are not expensive or fussy at all. Over the 25+ years I’ve been baking, I’ve learned that you don’t need an arsenal of equipment to execute almost any recipe. So I thought I’d share with you my own “baker’s dozen” of must-haves in the kitchen:

baking equipment

mixer/rubber spatula/measuring cups and spoons/food scale/baking sheets/angled spatulas

Mixer: This is hands-down the most important piece of baking equipment I own. It’s the workhorse of my kitchen and I use it at least once a week – way more during the holiday season. And because I use it so often, I’ve invested in a high-quality mixer. For me, the two most important features are a strong and sturdy motor, and a 5 to 6 quart capacity bowl. As you know, I often double recipes and need a mixer that can easily hold a large quantity of dough or batter without burning out on me.

Rubber Spatula: I know what you’re thinking –thisΒ is an important utensil? But it is. Again, I am often working with large quantities of dough, and need a spatula that will scrape out the bowl cleanly and easily. Most spatulas are flimsy and wind up bending under the weight of the dough. I had my Grandma Fay’s for years and when it finally gave out I searched high and low for a suitable replacement. This spatula is thick and sturdy, and I love the spoon-shaped head – a minor detail that makes all the difference.

Measuring cups and spoons: Obvious, but again, since I use these every time I bake, I look for cups and spoons with sturdy handles and easy-to-read measurements.

Food scale: Since I’ve written an entire post on why I love weighing ingredients, I’ll keep it simple – if you bake, get a food scale. That is all.

Baking sheets: This can be overwhelming as there are SO many options – non-stick, rimless, double-thick, insulated…… I pass on them all for these basic, heavy duty aluminum sheets that don’t warp or buckle. They distribute heat evenly and are the perfect weight for all of my cookies. Love these.

Angled spatulas: I have two sizes – 9 3/4″ and 4 1/4″ – for different uses. The smaller spatula is handy for smoothing cake batter, frosting cupcakes, and loosening cakes and bar cookies from their pans. The larger size is essential for making frosted cakes with a smooth, professional finish.

How about you? Do you have just a few basic essentials or are you always on the hunt for the latest gadget? What are some of your cooking and baking “must-haves”?

Stay tuned for the rest of my favorites later in the week!

27 Comments

  1. Peach on December 10, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Intrigued by your food scale endorsement… perhaps this is why I perpetually fail at baking? Must go read. Thanks for an informative post. ps: a red stand mixer is on my life list! πŸ™‚

    • sherisilver on December 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Once you start weighing your ingredients you will NEVER go back! πŸ™‚

  2. barbara w on December 10, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I have a spatula like yours. I think it’s call a spoonula!!

    • sherisilver on December 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Clever name! πŸ™‚

  3. Megan on December 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Totally agree for the scale! I am living in France and all recipes are by weight (I still haven’t found a set of measuring cups available for sale here!). Back home (Canada), I was half measurer and half weigher, but now I’m entirely a weigher.
    The mixer is on my wishlist, has been for ages, but not something I’ll buy here cause I don’t think it’ll fit in my carry-on when I go home πŸ™

  4. Drew on December 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    You and I have almost the same exact list of kitchen essentials. I love my stand mixer, kitchen scale, and sheet pans. After I bought my first 1/2 sheet pan, I fell in love and had to buy a second and a 1/4 sheet pan. Now my older cookie sheet, with the open long sides, sits unused in my cupboard. After melting one too many rubber spatulas, I’ve converted to the silicone variety which I use a number of times throughout the week.

    I would have to add my blender to the list. I hate my Cuisinart. It leaks flour from the top and liquids from the bottom, and all of the parts are annoying to clean, so whenever I have chopping tasks to do, I break out my Breville blender. It’s sturdy, reliable, easy-to-clean, and never leaks.

    • sherisilver on December 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      We’re practically twins Mr. Biehle….never think of using my blender to chop – will try!

  5. Sara on December 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Not sure if this is a tool, definately an essential for me … I cannot imagine baking without my Parchment Paper!

    What make and model are your spoons & cups? It’s about time for an upgrade here …

    • sherisilver on December 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      Parchment coming up in post #2 Sara! Click the link above to see the spoon/cup info….

  6. Sandra on December 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I’ll add silpat – never have to grease and flour a cookie sheet again. But I don’t like silicone baking forms. They just don’t work very well.

    I’ll add too a cross hatch rack for cooling cookies and other baked items. Things don’t fall through.

    I pared down a while ago – I have fewer but better quality items. The only thing I have been buying is food photography props. And still too many cotton tea towels!

    • Drew on December 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      I’ll second the necessity of a silpat and cross-hatch cooling rack (I think mine was made by CIA).

  7. sherisilver on December 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    You guys are totally messing with my “part two” – stay tuned!!! πŸ™‚

  8. Leslie on December 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I never was a gadget person, and losing everything you own as I did last year gives you a new perspective on essential! I now know if things are essential because by now I have either had to get them or I keenly miss them when I don’t have them. Here’s one: for pie crusts, a pastry cloth and a rolling pin cover. I keep forgetting to get these things and having to improvise and boy do the crusts suffer!

    • sherisilver on December 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      I’ve never owned a pastry cloth OR a rolling pin cover – can you send links? (Maybe this is why I hate rolling dough so much…)

  9. Jill V. on December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I am on the exact same page as you are! I won’t add the rest because they are probably in Part 2!!!

    xoxo

    • sherisilver on December 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Jill (ahem, Drew and Sandra….) πŸ™‚

      • Drew on December 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

        Sandra and I could also tell you who Keyser SΓΆze is…

  10. Marti on December 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I wish I had various pots and pans for cooking but my kitchen is very basic, I’m always washing one or two items to reuse for another dish. I could purchase additional items but I’m focused on investing into my business to offer fine jewelry as well.
    Marti

    • sherisilver on December 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Exactly – I do that too – it requires a bit of thinking ahead but so worth it…..

  11. allison carmen on December 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    forwarding to my daughter who loves to bake! thanks!

    • sherisilver on December 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks Allison! xo

  12. jodi on December 12, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I couldn’t imagine baking without my food scale. I’m not big on baking (I believe you know that!), but I’ve found that weighing the ingredients rather than measuring them has made all the difference in the world!

    • sherisilver on December 12, 2012 at 7:59 am

      Agreed Jodi – I’m on a mission!

  13. David on November 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    It is fun baking with this wonderful appliance! the kitchen gadgets help save a lot of time too!

  14. David on November 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Imagine having your pizza ready in just a coupple of minute. thanks to kitchen gadgets

    http://www.coolestkitchengadgets.com/

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