When I think of Indispensable Kitchen Tools, I think of smaller pieces of equipment that make baking and pastry so much easier. These aren’t mixers and processors but the handheld equipment that makes it easier to do a task.
Among my, “I couldn’t live without” baking tools are the following. They are indispensable to professionals and have a place in every baker’s kitchen. They are also among the most inexpensive when it comes to kitchen equipment.
So if you don't have these indispensable baking tools in this list, consider getting them as each of these can make your life easier when baking, finishing or cleaning.
come in several sizes depending upon what they are used for. Larger ones are used to apply the first coat or undercoat of buttercream on a cake. They are especially helpful when using pans with removable bottoms where parchment paper can’t be used. After the rim of the pan has been removed, the item is sitting on the metal bottom. At the bakery, we used straight spatulas to release the many cheesecakes we made.
Because we couldn’t line the pans with parchment and turn the cheesecakes upside down to release them, we inserted the spatula between the bottom of the cheesecake and the metal pan bottom. By going around the entire bottom, it is easy to lift the cheesecake off the pan with two pancake turners and move it to a cardboard cake round or presentation plate. I make a Lemon Cheesecake for the restaurant which is impossible to release without using this method. The smallest is helpful to release cakes layers from the sides of the pan among other things.
Offset spatulas - one of the most used baking tools
are a necessity for baking and pastry. They allow a cake top to be finished perfectly smoothly which straight spatulas do not. They help spread batters in pans and allow small items to be moved easily. Since the handle is higher than the spatula itself, it keeps your fingers from touching whatever is under the handle. These also come in several sizes. I use the smaller one for leveling batters in 9, 10 or 9x13 inch pans. If using half sheet pans, the larger one is better. There is also a pointed end offset which comes in the smaller size and is great for a number of projects including releasing items baked in scalloped pans such as quiche or tart pans. The pointy edge gets into the rounded edge so the item releases cleanly.
I can’t imagine any kitchen without several of these spatulas. They are used for mixing, getting all the batter out of mixing bowls and even spreading, depending upon what it is. There are also heatproof plastic spatulas, such as the well worn green one, which I love for making curds, pastry creams and anything hot. I curled the edges of several regular plastic spatulas before I finally got one of these. It is bright green so it is easy to find when I need it. Not sure how I did without it before. It is important when buying these to make sure they are flexible. Some are stiff and they won't do the job.
This does just what its name implies and is one of my favorite baking tools. I don't know how I did without it. It is a flexible plastic scraper that allows every bit of dough, batter or filling to be removed from a bowl far better and faster than a regular plastic spatula with a handle. The important thing here is to get one that has some flexibility to bend around the bottom of a bowl. If it is too rigid it can’t get into the curve of the bottom of the bowl. It shouldn’t be floppy but it shouldn’t be rigid either. I can get an entire batch of chocolate chip cookie dough out of the bowl in one fell swoop.
Using this tool allows you to clean your work surface fasts and so much better than wiping. Just slide it across the board or table and it will quickly get everything in a pile to be picked up or swiped into a trash can. A bench scraper is metal and in addition to cleaning the “bench” which is a long, sturdy work table used in professional bakeries particularly for bread, it is used to portion doughs. It can also be used to smooth the sides of a frosted cake. As opposed to the bowl scraper, this one needs a sturdy, rigid blade.
have many uses from smoothing mixtures to blending dry ingredients before adding them to a batter. When I combine flour with leavening agents and/or spices, I whisk them together before adding them to the liquid ingredients so they will be evenly dispersed in the mixer. I also whisk my dry ingredient before adding them to anything because they are often lumpy coming from the box or bag. Sometimes these lumps will not completely disappear when mixed with liquid ingredients. In the olden days, we sifted all flours because they would be lumpy.
Despite the fact flour companies sift flour before packing them, they pack down in shipping. This is also the major reason for weighing the flour instead of measuring by volume which can be drastically different depending upon the method used to measure by volume. In the picture above, you can see various sizes including the whisk attachment from a long-ago hand mixer. It is perfect for whisking small amounts including chocolate.
This is rather picky but important to me. Many recipes tell you to use a toothpick to test a cake to see if it is done. For me, a toothpick leaves a big hole or at least bigger than I want. Cake testers are so inexpensive. They have a sliver of metal that is much longer than a toothpick. So if you want to test a bundt cake or something thick, it will reach down. It can also be washed to keep it clean.
Two Pancake Turners - indispensable baking tools
are used to pick up items and move them. I know they now make huge metal movers but to safely move a heavy cheesecake or a finished cake, both sides have to be supported to move it safely. After releasing the bottom of the item (see Straight Spatulas above), place a turner on each side of the item. Transfer the cake or cheesecake without any damage. Go here to see them used.
While these are my indispensable baking tools, I’m sure you have your own special helpers. Let us know what they are in the comment section.
See Baking Equipment and Utensils for a complete list of baking equipment.
Baking Basics - Equipment lists my three pieces of large equipment.
Be sure to look at Pan Size Conversions to take the confusion out of substituting pans.