Great British baker Paul Hollywood doesn’t hesitate when naming the 10 pieces of baking equipment he couldn’t do without. The big question is… Would Mary agree?
Paul's top 10 kitchen essentials
1. A good baking book
This is a very good place to start. It can be any type of baking book and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but you just need to make sure it’s reliable. And don’t think a baking book is a possession of a beginner. I know some of the very best bakers who still swear by a trusty book.
Read reviews online before you buy it, and if you feel like it isn’t working for you once you have tried a few things out, then maybe move on to another one. And whatever you do, make sure that you stick to the recipe!
2. A selection of baking trays and tins
If you have a range of quite big, flat, heavy baking trays that are non-stick, you can bake all sorts. Non-stick is definitely preferable, but if you don’t have non-stick then either coat with some oil or use non-greaseproof paper. You will need a 1kg tin for bread and cakes.
3. An electric mixer
You can knead by hand if you want, but an electric mixer will certainly save you some time and it is much less strenuous on your arms and hands!
See our review of the best stand mixers to buy.
4. A dough scraper
This is a key piece of equipment. I would recommend ones with either a plastic or a metal handle, and a sturdy steel blade so it stays solid when you use it.
5. Weighing scales
The key part of any bake is to weigh your ingredients properly. If something you bake fails, then the chances are it is because you have the weights wrong, and then you end up going back to the start and redoing it from scratch. So get a good set of scales… I would definitely buy digital scales.
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Have a look at Good Food's review of the best digital scales.
6. Plastic tubs
When baking wetter dough, use well-oiled plastic tubs as they contain and shape dough as it rises.
7. A dough hook
I like to use the one on my KitchenAid, but you can buy one separately. I use it whenever I bake at home.
8. An oven you can use properly
I know this might sound obvious, but make sure you know how to work your oven! A common mistake on The Great British Bake Off is things being either undercooked or overcooked. So know what type of oven you have - gas, electric, oil or solid fuel - and make sure you know what temperatures you are working at. You can get engineers in to help balance out your oven, which is a great tip on its own.
9. Sourdough equipment
Sourdough is my favourite type of bread, so I would recommend everyone baking their own! You definitely need a 2-litre transparent container for raising, and a proving cloth for resting.
10. Flour, yeast, salt and water
Okay, so I’ve cheated a bit here, but you can’t list baking equipment without giving some reference to the raw materials. And of course, we all know there are four simple yet essential ingredients for baking. Table salt and tap water are fine, while fast action yeast is widely available and easy to buy. As for flour, there are many types, but strong white for bread and self-raising for cakes and biscuits are great starting places.