Below are identified as follows the tools required to effectively carry out your recipes.
Baking is more scientific than other cooking techniques and requires careful measuring. To ensure success, it is important to accurately measure ingredients using the correct measuring utensils. Pencils ready. Commence taking notes.
Dry Measuring Cups
Dry measuring cups allow you to fill the cup to the top and then “level off” or remove any extra with a straight edge knife or metal spatula. Available in nested sets of 4 to 8 cups. Made of metal or plastic, these cups do not have a pouring spout.
Measuring bowls are indispensable for the accurate measuring of dry and liquid ingredients. Food measuring bowls are usually made of glass. Available in graduated sizes, glass dry measuring cups are flat-bottomed with flat edges.
For measuring liquids, glass marked-in bowls are used. Lips and handles ensure easy pouring.
Available in metal or plastic, measuring spoons are used to measure small quantities of liquid and dry ingredients.
Liquid Measuring Cups
Made of glass or plastic, these cups have a lip for pouring. Measuring cups made of glass or clear plastic are easiest to use and most accurate.
All ovens are not created equal! Even the most faithful of ovens can burn you and your culinary ambitions by suddenly heating to a temperature different than what was selected. The correct baking temperature is critical to successful baking, so it is important to verify that your oven thermostat is working properly.
Oven thermometers are designed to either stand or hang on an oven rack. Since oven temperatures can vary from one part of an oven to another, position the thermometer on the oven rack where the baking sheet or pan will be placed. If there’s room, keep the thermometer positioned next to the baking sheet during baking, so that you can determine if the temperature is changing too much during baking or when cookie sheets are switched.
If the thermometer reads differently than the oven temperature you select, change the oven temperature accordingly (i.e., if the thermometer reads 25°F too high, reduce the temperature by 25°F). If your oven is off 75°F or more, it would be advisable to call a service technician to professionally calibrate the oven.
Oven thermometers can be purchased in the housewares department of grocery and hardware stores or anywhere baking equipment is sold. Instant read thermometers or meat and candy thermometers are NOT suitable for checking oven temperature.
A candy thermometer is used to test the temperature during the cooking of candy, jams and jellies. It often has an adjustable clip so that it can rest against the sides of a heavy-gauge saucepan.
Baking Pans, Dishes & Sheets
Many different kinds of pans, dishes and sheets are used in baking, as likely evidenced by your over-flowing cabinets. It is essential that you use choose the correct size and shape to ensure the right texture and appearance of your baked good. The time has come for you to become better acquainted with your assorted pans.
Shiny Aluminum Pans
The best choice for baked goods consistent in color and texture. It prevents biscuits, quick bread loaves and coffeecakes from becoming too dark on the bottom and around the sides of the pan.
Consists of two thin sheets of aluminum with a layer of air between them. Baked goods baked in insulated baking pans may require more baking time, and they often don’t brown well on the bottoms and sides.
Ovenproof glass loaf pans and baking dishes are sometimes used to bake quick breads, loaves and coffeecakes. Baked goods baked in glass brown well and you can see the coloring all around. When substituting a glass baking dish for a metal baking pan, reduce the oven temperature by 25°F.
Disposable Aluminum Pans
Readily available in supermarkets, these are perfect for baked goods which will be given away as gifts. While available in sizes comparable to aluminum baking pans and glass baking dishes, they are often 1/4- to 1/2-inch smaller in length, width and depth. Baking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.
These pans help keep your baked goods from sticking. However, they tend to brown their contents quickly, particularly on the edges and the bottom. Many nonstick baking pan manufacturers recommend reducing the oven temperature by 25ºF.
This round pan, used for making cheesecakes and other desserts that are tricky to remove from their pans, has a bottom that is separate from the side. A clamp holds the pan together and opens to allow the side to easily be pulled away from the baked dessert.
Tart pans come in many different shapes and sizes. Their removable bottom makes it easy to neatly transfer a tart to a serving plate. Tart pans come in both dark-colored and shiny pan varieties, and can also have varying depths with deeper tart pans used for quiche, and shallower pans used for delicate dessert tarts.
Generally, pies are baked in a relatively deep pan with sloped sides that can hold a large amount of filling. Materials for pie plates range from ovenproof glass, glazed ceramic, heavy foil, aluminum, tinned steel, stainless steel and nonstick coated steel.
Standard Muffin Pans
Available in 12-and 6-cup pans, the standard muffin cup is about 2-3/4 inches in diameter and 1-1/8 inches deep and holds a scant 1/2 cup batter.
Jumbo Muffin Pans
Available in 6-cup pans, the jumbo muffin cups are at least 3 inches in diameter and 1-1/2 inches deep. Each jumbo muffin cup holds approximately 1 cup batter.
Mini Muffin Pans
Available in 12- and 24-cup pans, the mini muffin cup is approximately 1-3/4 inches in diameter and 7/8-inch deep. Each muffin cup holds approximately 2 tablespoons batter.
Muffin Tops (Caps) Pans
Available in 6-cup pans, each muffin top cup is approximately 3 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch deep. Each muffin top cup holds approximately 3 tablespoons batter.
Shiny Aluminum Muffin Pans
Shiny aluminum pans prevent muffins from becoming too dark around the sides.
Dark Nonstick Muffin Pans
Dark nonstick pans keep the muffins from sticking. They tend to brown muffin edges and bottoms quickly. Many nonstick baking pan manufacturers recommend reducing the oven temperature by 25°F.
Aluminum loaf pans can turn out tender cakes, while dark, nonstick or glass pans will produce a crunchy-chewy crust. You can make quick breads, brioche and meatloaf in a loaf pan.
Also known as an angel food cake pan, this deep pan has a hollow tube in the center that promotes even baking. Most tube pans have removable bottoms.
Fluted Tube Pan
The fluted sides bring a decorative look to the finished product. It comes in various sizes; a 12-cup pan is the most common.
A double-pan arrangement that features two pots formed to fit together, with one sitting partway inside the other. A single lid fits both pans. The lower pot is used to hold simmering water, which gently heats the mixture in the upper pot. Double boilers are used to warm or cook heat-sensitive food such as custards, delicate sauces and chocolate.
Baking “dish” refers to a glass baking dish. For best results, use the correct size baking dish called for in your recipe. To measure the size of a baking dish, measure the top inside of the dish with a ruler for length or width. To determine the depth of a baking dish, measure the inside from the bottom to the top edge.
To measure the volume of a baking dish, set it flat on the kitchen counter or table. Fill the dish with water, 1 cup at a time, until the water reaches the rim of the baking dish.
If you do not have the baking dish size specified in the recipe, substitute a dish of equal volume. Baking time will need to be adjusted.
An individual baking dish (3 to 4 inches in diameter) that resembles a miniature soufflé dish. Ramekins are usually made of porcelain or earthenware and can be used for both sweet and savory dishes – either baked or chilled. A tiny baked pastry filled with a creamy cheese custard is also referred to as a “Ramekin”.
Soufflés are customarily baked in a classic soufflé dish, which is round and has straight sides to facilitate the soufflé’s rising. These special dishes are ovenproof and come in a variety of sizes ranging from 3 1/2-ounce (individual) to 2-quart. They’re available in kitchenware shops and the housewares section of most department stores. Foil or parchment “collars” are sometimes wrapped around the outside of a soufflé dish so that the top of the foil or paper rises about 2 inches above the rim of the dish. Such collars are used for cold dessert soufflés so that the sides of the frozen or molded mixture are supported until they set. Once the collar is removed, the soufflé stands tall and appears to “rise” out of the dish.
Perhaps one of the most essential pieces of bakeware, these flat, rigid sheets of metal are where such comforting confections as cookies, breads and biscuits are baked. It usually has one or more turned-up sides for ease in handling. Common sizes for baking sheets are: 17×14-inch and 12×15-inch. For even heat circulation, baking sheets should be at least 2 inches smaller all around than the interior of the oven. There are a variety of kinds of baking sheets, the three most common are aluminum, dark nonstick and insulated sheets.
Shiny, heavy-gauge aluminum baking sheets are good heat conductors and will produce evenly baked and browned goods.
Dark Nonstick Sheets
Dark sheets absorb heat and should be used only for items on which a dark, crisp exterior is desired.
Insulated baking sheets (two sheets of aluminum with an air space sealed between them) are good for soft cookies or bread crusts, but many baked goods will not get crisp on them.
A heavy, thick plate of beige or brown stone that can be placed in the oven to replicate the baking qualities of a brick-floored bread oven. Baking stones can be round or rectangular.
There isn’t much good in baking delectable delights if you can’t properly remove them from cooking surface. Thankfully, there is such a tool for doing so, and it has a fantastic name: “the spatula.” The spatula is used for a variety of purposes including lifting and turning baked goods and spreading fillings and frostings. “Spatula” is a term that is frequently used interchangeably for the following different baking utensils:
Straight Edge Spatula
The straight edge spatula is similar in shape to a knife but rarely has a sharp edge. It is used for spreading foods like frosting, jams, cream cheese, cake and bar cookie batters, etc. It also is used when measuring dry ingredients to “level off,” or remove excess ingredient from the measuring cup.
A pancake turner is sometimes referred to as a metal spatula, particularly when it is smaller in size. This utensil is wide at the base which picks up the food, and it has an easy-to-grip handle. It is used to remove baked foods from baking sheets (i.e., cookies) or foods from skillets and griddles (i.e., pancakes, eggs). The sharp edge of the metal literally “cuts” the cookie from the cookie sheet. Plastic spatulas are too thick to remove delicate, warm cookies from cookie sheets.
Rubber Scraper or Rubber Spatula
A rubber scraper or rubber spatula has a wooden or plastic handle with a flexible rubber paddle-shaped end. Used in baking, the rubber end can scrape batter from the sides of a bowl or pan and helps remove all the batter or dough from a bowl.
Function and form are the staples for any accessory, and liners are no different. Liners help create a nonstick surface for baked goods, and also help prevent them from burning during baking. Liners also create an easy release and transfer from the pan to the cooling surface, and help create layered barriers during storage.
A heavy, grease- and moisture-resistant paper with a number of culinary uses including lining baking pans and wrapping foods that are to be baked. Parchment paper is available in gourmet kitchenware stores and many supermarkets.
Semitransparent paper with a thin coating of wax on both sides. Because of its moisture-proof and nonstick characteristics, wax paper plays a major role in the kitchen for duties such as covering food and lining baking pans.
Aluminum that has been rolled into a thin, pliable sheet. It’s an excellent barrier to moisture, air and odors and can withstand flaming heat and freezing cold. It comes in regular weight (for wrapping food and covering containers) and heavy-duty weight (for freezer storage and lining pans and grills).
Cheesecloth is a lightweight natural cotton cloth that does not fall apart when wet and will not flavor the food it touches. Cheesecloth has a multitude of culinary uses including straining liquids, forming a packet for herbs and spices that can be dropped into a soup or stock pot and lining molds. It comes in both fine and coarse weaves and is available in gourmet shops, supermarkets and the kitchen section of many department stores.
Electric mixers allow you to control the mixing with a range of speeds from extra slow to extra fast. Mixing with an electric mixer, as compared to mixing by hand, provides a much faster mixing action and thorough blending of ingredients within the bowl. Electric mixers come with a variety of attachments for various styles of mixing, whisking and kneading depending on the type of mixer – though try to resist the temptation to lick the beaters…especially when they are turned on.
Electric Hand-Held Mixer
An electric mixer is a kitchen appliance used to beat, mix or whip batter.
Electric Stand-Up or Table-Top Mixer
An electric mixer is a kitchen appliance used to beat, mix or whip batter. Many of the more powerful stand mixers have special attachments such as dough hooks or paddle beaters.
Ready to take your baking to the next level? Check out these specialized tools that can assist you as you channel your inner Julia Child.
A pastry blender is made of five or six parallel U-shaped steel wires attached at both ends to a handle. It is used to cut cold butter into a flour mixture to distribute the fat without melting it, often for making pie crusts or biscuits.
A baking tool that looks similar to a small paintbrush, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick. Common liquids used with a pastry brush are milk, water and egg whites. Use a pastry brush to brush marinades over meats too.
A pastry cloth is a large canvas cloth on which pastry or dough can be rolled.
Pastry Crimping Wheel
A pastry crimping wheel is a rolling-bladed tool with a fluted design. It is used to cut dough and add a decorative edge treatment to pie crusts.
A pastry cutter has a straight-edged rolling wheel and is often used to cut narrow strips of dough for a lattice-topped pie.
A cookie cutter is used to cut decorative shapes from dough that has been rolled out. Cookie cutters are made from aluminum, copper or plastic. Common sizes are 2-inch to 3-inch; however, cutters are available in 1/2-inch up to 12-inches.
Though this kitchen tool is used mainly to roll out dough, it’s also handy for a number of other culinary tasks including crushing crackers and bread crumbs, and shaping cookies. Rolling pins can be made of almost any material including brass, ceramic, copper, glass, marble, plastic and porcelain. The favored material, however, is hardwood. The heavier pins deliver the best results because their weight and balance produce smoother doughs with less effort.
A kitchen utensil made of a group of looped wires held together by a long handle. Whisks are used in baking for whipping ingredients such as eggs and cream to incorporate air into them. The more wires a whisk contains, the more effectively it will incorporate air into a mixture. Whisks are available in a variety of different sizes for different tasks.
Wooden spoons do not scratch non-stick pans. The bowl end of a wooden spoon is thicker in size than a metal spoon of the same size. Therefore it is easier to mix batter because it does not cut into the batter, but rather, stirs or mixes it. Keep a variety of wooden spoons available for baking projects. Always wash and dry wooden spoons after use. Allow them to air dry.
A mesh-bottomed kitchen utensil used to sift ingredients such as flour or confectioners’ sugar. Sifters are usually made of stainless steel or heavy-weight plastic.
Small ceramic or aluminum pellet-like weights used to keep an unfilled pie or tart crust from shrinking during baking. Pie weights can be found in gourmet stores and in the baking section of some supermarkets.
A heavy-duty strong scissors with one serrated blade. Used for cutting fish, poultry, meats and produce. They can even be used to crack nuts or trim herbs into a dish. Some kitchen shears have additional tools as part of the handle, such as a can opener or screwdriver.