Read these 16 Required Equipment Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Chocolate tips and hundreds of other topics.
You'll need at least one really good wire whisks for beating eggs or blending liquids. Choose stainless steel, and well built handles. You'll also want at least one long metal spatual for spreading frosting, and for getting the last bit of cake mix out of the mixing bowl.
Aluminum conducts heat best for a crisp browned crust. The most standard size is the 9" square - if you only own one - that's the one to get. One caution, black steel or dark anodized aluminum absorb heat faster - if you use those kinds of pans - reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F to avoid overcooking your treat.
Making desserts using chocolate requires specialied equipment to ensure that the chocolate shows off at it's best. Essentials include an instant-read thermometer and a really good double boiler. Check out the sub-cateorgies above for more specific details on must have cooking tools for working with chocolate!
Every baker has to have a muffin tin - so get a good sturdy one. Muffin tins come in 2 sizes - miniature (about 1.5 tbs of mix) and standard (3.5 oz) cupcakes. Whenever possible, choose nonstick tins. Dark surfaces cook faster - so lower the oven temperature by about 25 degrees F if you use these kinds of pans.
You need a liquid measuring cup - and you need to know when to use it! Yes - that's when you are measuring liquids. Since liquids and solids measure differently - if you use one kind of cup for both purposes - your results will not be as good. Pick heavy duty heat resistant glass - marked on one side in cups and ounces, the other side in millileters for European recipes. The lip and handle have to be designed to make it easy to pour - not look cute!
Choose good quality heavy aluminum or tinplate steel. You want pans that conduct heat well for fast, even baking with chocolate. Eventually you'll want a wide variety of sizes and shapes - but start out with a few good ones - that's a better bet than a lot of cheap pans you'll be sorry you own later!
Good cooks swear by parchment paper - but if you are starting out - this item can be replaced by more readily available waxed paper. However - consider getting a box if you see one for sale. parchment paper is very handy to have if you are planing on doing a lot of baking.
These are best in stainless steel - and come in a set of graduated sizes (from 1/4 cup to 2 cups). Straight rims allow ingredients to be leveled in the cup for accuracy. Plastic measuring cups are cheaper - but they are also less accurate - and less sturdy. That said - plastic will work - and if you must economize - this is one place you can do it!
Get a rolling pin with ball bearing handles for smooth rolling. You'll also need to have a hardwood or even better - marble - surface at least 12" long to doing your rolling on. Never wash either the pin or the hardwood pastry board - you don't want them to wrap. Just wipe them clean with a dry cloth.
A traditional round cake pan (either or both 8 and 9 inch sizes) is an essential. Choose good quality, seamless, heav metal pans. Remember - dark steel pans means adjusting down the oven temperature. Less usefull, but handy to have is a springform pan. These pans open on the sides to release the finished cake. Very handy to have if the cake is delicate and might stick to the pan.
Your grandmother swore by hers - but that was in the days of unsifted flour. Today, most flours are so uniformly ground - you don't need to sift for the same reason your grandmother did - you need only sift to combine white ingredients like flour, baking powder, etc. Still, a sifter is nice to have! One use is to sift icing sugar on top of warm desserts - it's a fast way to get a lovely decoration. Professional kitchens will often combine a sifter with a paper mask with their logo cut out. The result is a unique design on the finished cake.