Basic Baking Utensils

Basic Baking Utensils

Choosing the best kitchen utensils.

Most bakers don’t have the luxury of starting out with a fully stocked kitchen.  Like most people, they will collect different kitchen utensils over the years and develop a fondness for  certain tools.  Here are some tips to help you supply your kitchen with a workable assortment of basic kitchen utensils.

 

 

Start With A Good Spatula

This is a spatula.
Spatula

First, let’s clear up some confusion on what a spatula is.  Generally a spatula is a kitchen tool used for scraping a bowl or pan. Many bakers will use it to mix, blend or fold ingredients.  It can have a wooden or metal handle, sometimes it will have a rubber or plastic grip.  The head can be made of a firm material, usually rubber or silicone rubber.  A spatula should never be made of metal or wood.

 

 

This is a flipper or turner.
Flipper or Turner

 

The confusion comes in because many people also call a turner or flipper a spatula.  A pancake turner or a hamburger flipper is made from metal or rubber.  It will have a metal or rubber handle and a large, flat head that is very thin.  It’s sole purpose is to flip or turn over something.

 

 

A well stocked kitchen should have a handful of spatulas.  4 or 5 is not too many, you will be surprised at just how versatile they are.  Look for units that are heavy silicone, dishwasher friendly and have a solid handle.  Usually they are not expensive and should last a long time.

Bowls Are Basic Kitchen Utensils

If you think about what baking is at it’s core you realize that baking starts with mixing and blending ingredients.  Every cake, cookie, or muffin has you mixing an assortment of wet and dry ingredients.  Common sense would tell you that for mixing you will need a mixing bowl.  Or two, three or even four mixing bowls.

You will discover that most mixing bowl sets come in three materials-glass, plastic and stainless steel.  There are other less common materials used but these three are the most common and most popular.

Glass has some obvious benefits.  Being clear, you can see how your batter or mix is blending.  No surprise pockets of unmixed dough with a glass bowl.  Glass cleans easily and can be tossed in the dishwasher for easy clean up.

The negatives to glass are apparent.  It can be slippery and can break.  You can’t use a glass bowl after it has cracked.  It’s rare but glass can also stain.  This is cosmetic and doesn’t effect the usefulness of the bowl but it looks odd.

Plastic is durable, easy to clean, can be made in a huge variety of colors and can go into the dishwasher.  The problem with plastic bowls is that they can crack and leak.  Some people have problems using plastic with their food, either during the cooking process or when eating.  If you feel like this, plastic is not a good choice.

Stainless steel has some benefits.  It’s usually inexpensive and it is a very lightweight material.  While glass bowls, and even some plastic bowls, can be heavy, stainless steel bowls are almost feather light by comparison.  If the bowl is brushed you probably can’t put it in the dishwasher but otherwise stainless steel cleans up easily.

Measuring Cups

No one thinks about measuring cups until they really need one, then they wish they had a better set.  There are two distinct types of measuring cups.  One is for dry ingredients, the other is for wet.  Don’t try to use on set for both types of measuring, you will have erratic results with your recipe and you will probably get frustrated while measuring.

How to use a dry ingredient measuring cup.
Dry Ingredients

 

 

Dry ingredient measuring cups are usually plastic or stainless steel.  While the may have volume markings on the outside, they are designed to be used by filling to the top and scraping off the excess.  Both plastic and stainless steel are lightweight and easy to clean, there isn’t much difference between the two materials when it comes to measuring cups.

 

 

How to use liquid measuring cups.
Liquid Ingredients

Liquid measuring cups are very different.  They are almost always made from glass (some are plastic), they will usually have a pour spout and there will be volume measurements on the side.  These measuring cups are different in how they are used.  While you fill a dry ingredient measuring cup to the top and then remove the excess, with a liquid measuring cup you pour into the cup until the volume has reached the measurement marker on the outside.  The liquid measuring cup may hold up to 2 cups, but if you only need 3/4 of a cup you would pour only to that measurement line.

Some Other Baking Utensils To Keep In Mind

There are some other basic utensils that you may want to have in your kitchen.  Some may be more important if you are baking bread, some may by useful if you bake cookies and cakes.

Pastry Cutter.  Also called a dough blender, this simple yet useful tool is a time and effort saver if you are cutting butter into dough or adding a cold, solid ingredient into a dry mix.

Silicone Baking Mat.  These handy baking tools have exploded in popularity and are now considered basic tools for many kitchens.  Made from an amazing durable silicone rubber, you put these mats on your baking sheets in place of parchment paper or grease.  Food slides off and they are very easy to clean.

Digital Kitchen Scale.  Maybe you have noticed that on many baking shows the baker is using a kitchen scale.  Some recipes will turn out better using the weight of the ingredients instead of the volume.

Colander.  You will be surprised at how often you find yourself rinsing or draining an ingredient that you are using.

Dough Scraper.  The title is a little misleading.  Even if you don’t bake bread or knead any dough, you will always find a use for a good scraper.

Whisk.  This is another utensil that you will probably want to have a couple of on hand.  Try to have a silicone one and a metal whisk.