There are a seemingly endless number of utensils and gadgets you can buy for baking, but which ones are worth investing in? Below are some of the most useful items, many of which have multiple uses in the kitchen.
This is a non-stick paper ideal for lining cake tins. It is also known as silicone paper. Baking parchment is both greaseproof and moisture-proof. You can use it to line cake tins and baking trays. No additional greasing is necessary. It can be used in the oven and freezer.
There are many tins on the market these days of all shapes, sizes and materials. At Good Food, we prefer heavy-duty, silver-coloured tins. Dark-coloured silicone bakeware has a tendency to absorb heat and make the sides of the cake dark. It is essential to use the correct tin size and shape stated in the recipe or else cooking times will need to be adjusted.
This is an essential piece of equipment for helping air to circulate around your freshly-baked cake or biscuits, avoiding sogginess.
A selection of metal cutters allow you to create simple but effective cake decorations and fun biscuit shapes.
A dredger is useful for lightly dusting surfaces with flour or icing sugar when rolling out doughs or icing. However a tea strainer or sieve can perform the same function perfectly well.
A food mixer is not essential for cake-making but it does save time and minimise effort.
Useful for so many functions both sweet and savoury, the food processor can also be used for many cake recipes and is good for rubbing fat into flour when making pastry.
This type of paper is ideal for wrapping food, particularly greasy or fatty foods. It's often suggested as a suitable wrapping for fruit cake before placing it in a tin. It can be used in the freezer as well as the microwave and oven. If you are using it for lining a cake tin, you should also lightly grease the paper before spooning in the cake mix.
A handy tool for cake decorating, the smoother helps to give you a professional finish, smoothing down your marzipan or sugarpaste (ready-to-roll icing) after you've applied it to the cake. You can buy this from specialist cake decorating shops.
If you like to decorate cakes with marzipan or sugarpaste then spacers will help you achieve an even thickness. These can be bought from specialist suppliers.
Baking recipes often include oil, milk or other liquid ingredients and a measuring jug is essential for getting the quantities right. As a measuring jug is needed for so many cooking purposes, it's always useful to have one to hand.
People often under- or overestimate the size of a teaspoon or tablespoon. Measuring spoons ensure an accurate amount is used. If you like to use American recipes, it's also worth buying a set of measuring cups to avoid tricky conversions.
It's useful to have at least two large mixing bowls as many recipes require more than one. Choose glass, metal or plastic according to preference but it's worth having heatproof ones so that you can put them in the microwave or over simmering water when melting chocolate.
A palette knife is a long, thin implement with a rounded end. It has a wide range of uses, including smoothing on icing or cake fillings, scraping bowls and cutting butter into flour.
A pastry brush can be used to glaze your pastry with egg wash or milk or for brushing filo pastry with melted butter. It's also good for brushing off excess icing sugar when cake decorating.
You can buy one-piece rolling pins or the type with a fixed handle at either end, depending on which you find easiest. For really smooth results make sure the pin is wide enough to fully cover the width of dough or icing you are rolling out. If you do a lot of cake decorating with sugarpaste/ready-to-roll icing it is handy to have both a wide pin made from smooth plastic and a mini pin for intricate work.
As accuracy is key in baking, a good set of scales are necessary for measuring out ingredients.
A fine sieve made from metal or plastic is ideal for sifting flour and icing sugar, which is highly recommended when cake-making. It can be easier to use a small tea strainer to dust surfaces and decorate desserts with icing sugar or cocoa.
A metal skewer will help you determine whether your cake is cooked. If you insert it into the cake and it comes out clean, your cake is ready.
Avoid leaving cake mixture or melted chocolate in your bowl by using a bendy spatula which can easily skim around the sides.
A wooden spoon is a great all-rounder in the kitchen. If you don't have a food mixer, use it for beating your cake mixes. A large metal spoon is handy for folding in flour or whisked egg whites.
Whisks are designed to give volume and aerate foods and are therefore important for cake making. A balloon whisk is a handheld tool with metal loops that form into a bulb shape at the end of a long handle. It's always handy to have one of these in the kitchen as in addition to whipping cream, whisking egg whites and gently folding in flour, you can also use it to remove lumps from sauces. An electric whisk or a food mixer make short work of whisking and creaming. The food mixer, with its different attachments, is more versatile but also much more expensive.
It's handy to have a zester, fine grater or microplane, as many baking recipes require citrus zest. The latter two can also be used to grate nutmeg.