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While many people already have the bare essentials for baking, such as cookie sheets and mixing bowls, they’re far from the only pieces they’ll need. A few additional baking tools and appliances belong in the budding baker’s kitchen — but it’s not easy figuring out which ones those are.
BestReviews’ baking expert Andrea Boudewijn joins Gary Gelfand and Scott Moak of “Studio40 Live” to explain the best investments for bakers of all experience levels, from stand mixers to spatulas.
Boudewijn begins with one of the best-selling small kitchen appliances on the market, the KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer. It may seem expensive at around $450, but it’s a true workhorse that covers all baking needs — and then some. The stand mixer is also compatible with a range of branded attachments for making pasta and ice cream, slicing vegetables and food processing.
Boudewijn emphasizes the value of everyday baking utensils, including metal spatulas. Described as “overlooked tools in the kitchen,” they’re essential tools for completing small yet important tasks. While they’re similar to silicone spatulas found in most home kitchens, metal spatulas have distinct, tapered designs for specialized tasks. Not only do they separate cakes and brownies from pans, but they also cut lasagna and lift muffins from pans.
Another important tool is the pastry brush, which lends itself to countless uses. Besides painting egg wash over pastries or sealing pie crusts, it’s an ideal tool for oiling wooden cutting boards and spoons. Because they have densely-packed bristles, pastry brushes can also be used to clean caramelized residue from baking pans, says Boudewijn.
Because precise measurements are of the utmost importance in baking, Boudewijn recommends investing in a digital food scale. She says it’s much easier to bake presentation-worthy chocolate chip cookies when they’re all the same weight — ideally, one ounce apiece. “It looks like Chips Ahoy. Everyone thinks you’re a master, and all you did was weigh it and make sure it’s the right size.”
A digital food scale is also an indispensable device for easy conversions from grams to ounces. “The rest of the world uses grams,” explains Boudewijn, noting that many people use baking recipes from European cookbooks that rarely include Imperial conversions. Instead of crunching numbers — with the risk of human error and less-than-desirable outcomes — a digital scale handles conversions with the press of a button. “If you need 355 grams of flour, you can put it on there, and switch it over to ounces, and know how much you need.”
Boudewijn says that while beginner bakers often limit their budgets when it comes to home baking essentials, “if you’re going to jump in, first time around, make an investment.” The right tools not only come in handy, she says, but they can also make baking a more enjoyable experience.
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.