Fancy electric mixers, handheld blenders and pancake rings… the market is swamped with baking utensils that you don’t really need. So what exactly do you need when you begin to bake? Here’s our round-up of genuine essentials, with a Wish list for every budding baker…
The Real Baking Essential
Two Large Bowls
We’ll begin with the obvious: a bowl, but let’s make it two – many recipes ask you to beat egg whites separately, before folding them into another bowl of ingredients. Or to melt chocolate over a pan, then tip it into the cake batter. So it’s sensible to have two large bowls in your kitchen.
Whisk, Spoon & Spatula
Turning to the cutlery drawer, you’ll also need a whisk for aerating cake batter and eggs, a spatula for beating butter, smoothing tray-bakes and scraping out corners, and a spoon for beating and folding. Choose a wooden spoon (those with one rounded edge and one straight edge are best), and keep it exclusively for cake-baking, so you don’t get a hint of onion in your Victoria sponge!
You will probably have a metal spoon in your cutlery drawer – they come with most dinner sets. The largest is a tablespoon (15ml), which is an important measurement for many recipes. It’s also useful for folding ingredients, in recipes where you need to keep the air in the batter.
Measuring Jug & Spoon
As well as weighing out your ingredients, some recipes ask you to measure fluids or small amounts. To do this you’ll need a measuring jug (a glass one is best for protecting your batter against odours – avoid using it to reheat beans unless you want an orange jug!) and spoons. Keen bakers keep a selection of measuring spoons in their drawer. You can buy sets that are fastened together, with a wide range of capacities, but you’re likely to only use a couple: the tablespoon and teaspoon.
If you like to use recipes from the internet, or you have an American baking book, it’s also useful to have a cup measure on hand. In the US almost every ingredient is measured by cups, removing the need to weigh. Breadmakers often supply recipes by the cup, and you need a measuring cup (not a coffee cup) to get the proportions right.
Sponge Tins, Cheesecake Tin, Cupcake Tins, Swiss Roll Tin, & Loaf Tin
It depends what type of baking you’re doing, but you’ll probably need a good selection of Baking Tins once you get hooked. The list above is a good starting point. Sponge tins are usually quite shallow, since they’re designed to be used together to bake two sponges that will be sandwiched together.
To bake an all-in-one cake (like a Fruit Cake), you’ll need a deeper cake tin; a Springform one is a good idea, because the outer ring springs off when you need to get the cake out. Buy more than one cupcake tin, because every recipe makes at least 12, and you’ll find it’s a real nuisance to be emptying and refilling the tin. You can buy the small-sized fairycake trays, or the muffin-sized trays – or maybe a couple of each!
Finally, a Swiss Roll tin is used for more than Swiss rolls – you can use it to bake shaped or birthday cakes, tray-bakes, and shortbread. You’ll only need a loaf tin if you intend to bake loaf cakes (like walnut and apple). When choosing your cake tins, don’t buy the cheapest; they will warp and cakes will stick to them. It really is worth investing in good tinware, so look for reputable manufacturers like Mermaid (the Cake Baker team’s favourite!).
The Optional Extras
Here’s a Wish List of extra utensils that are used for certain recipes, or to make baking easier. These utensils are wonderful gifts for bakers-in-the-making, too!
- Electric whisk for meringues and beating butter etc.
- Cookie cutters
- Madeleine tray
- Hand blender
- Scone cutters, fluted and plain
- Tartlet tins for individual tarts and lemon pies
- Ice-cream scoops
- Sundae dishes
- Novelty cake tins such as heart shapes
- Mini (or large) pudding basins
- Afternoon tea set
- Reusable silicone parchment
- Worktop Mixer
- Ice-cream maker (for freezer or worktop)