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Day 5 of 25 Days of Christmas My Urban Oven Style.
Since I have been doing some online shopping to help finish my Christmas gifts. I thought I would put together a list of items that I know I personally could not live without in my kitchen when baking.
I called this post a list for “aspiring” bakers, because if you are looking for something for a person that already is an avid baker, this is not the list for them. A self proclaimed baker more than likely already owns many of these gadgets. However, if you know they don’t have one of these, then I totally suggest you buy it for them. These tools like my baking life so much better!
If you have ever made a pie curst, you know you can’t stir together the ingredients if you want a super flaky crust. When I first started making pies I would use two knives to cut the ingredients together to make sure I was getting a flaky crust. Somewhere along the way I picked up a pastry cutter and my pie making life was forever changed. Anyone that I know enjoys baking, I have gifted one of these to. My sister loves hers, and has become an expert pie crust maker with it. I also bought one for my friend Amy’s bridal shower. She mentioned to me the week before thanksgiving needing to go out and get a pie crust from the store to make a pie for Thanksgiving. I then asked her why she wasn’t using her pastry cutter to make a homemade crust. She told me she had never used it for pie crust, but once for mashing potatoes. I laughed and told her to try out making one at home, and I would send her my favorite recipe. Thanksgiving morning I received a photo of a fabulous looking pie with a homemade crust in the oven. Super proud moment for me as a baker and gift giver. In all of this, I also learned something new too, mashing potatoes with a pastry cutter. Double whamy with this kitchen gadget.
Not only can you make mini muffins in this pan, but there are a whole host of recipes that call of for a mini muffin pan. Recipes like mini cupcakes, peanut butter cups, mini pecan cups, mini mint cheesecakes, or even make mini appetizers in them. I own 3 of these pans and love making anything mini I can think of in them. They especially come in handy for appetizer making. Drop in a dough, filling and bake. You have bite size appetizers ready to go. Similar concept for baking all the recipes listed earlier.
I know it isn’t best practice to melt things in the microwave, and any classically trained baker would scold me for it, but sometimes melting chocolate or almond bark in the microwave is just so much faster and easier. I love having a glass measuring bowl for several reasons. The first, already mentioned, melting things in the microwave since it is microwave safe and has a handle that does not get hot when microwaving. Second, for the measuring increments on the side. When you are using cereals or liquids that call for a large amount, like 8 cups, it is easier to fill up this bowl, than use a 1 cup 8 times. Finally, the lid is perfect for needing to chill. Such as making truffles, you start with a hot mixture and then need to chill. Rather than switch bowls, you can place this bowl in the refrigerator to chill and then take out later for scooping. This bowl is a must have because of it being so mutli-functional.
I spent many years using rolls and rolls of wax paper and parchment paper when baking. Or even scrubbing pans like crazy when something bubbled over onto my pan. These mats are life savers. You can throw them on a pan, and bake something sticky or roast veggies without major scrubbing later. I used to line pan after pan with wax paper when making chocolate covered candies, now I use these mats and can reuse them time and time again. Sustainable right there! The three pack of multiple sizes is also great for the variety of pans you own. Your budget and sponges will thank you for getting these mats.
I pulled out a tub of cookies once at a party, and someone that didn’t know me or my baking obsession too well, didn’t believe that my cookies were not store bought. Big compliment on taste for sure, but also presentation. They told me they didn’t believe they were homemade because they were all the exact same size, and shape. Too perfect. My secret to this success, cookie scoops. I have a variety of different sizes for different end uses. I like to use a the large scoop for making perfectly uniform cupcakes, one scoop per cupcake. I use the medium scoop for most cookies, and the smallest one for making ball shaped candies or scooping into my mini muffin pans. If you want a compliment, these are where it is at!
I can not bake a cookie on anything but these pans. These are what my mom uses, and I wouldn’t use anything else. Have you ever made a cookie and it turned out dark and crunchy on the bottom, then light and soft on the top? Dark, uneven cookie sheets will result in poor cookie results. Air Bake pans are light in color which help eliminate dark bottomed cookies and the double layered pans help even out heat helping all your cookies to cook evenly, no matter where on the pan. I really can’t say anything else, but these are a must for cookies. Hands down!
Many more involved recipes call for sifting your flour, or flouring your work space. A small sifter with a hand trigger works allows for easy use and storage. I normally store my sifter in my flour bin. I like the trigger opposed to the crank because of the need for only one hand. Lazy or efficient, you cant decide. You can get by with a wire strainer, but having a hand sifter at the ready during cake making or cookie rolling, is always nice.
Metal mixing bowls are a classic. You will find rubber bottomed ones and new plastic mixing bowls out there in the market, making claims for non-slip or easy to pour, which is all great, but not as multi-purpose as a classic metal bowl. Metal bowls clean up easy, nest together nice in the cabinet, and can be used for more functions then just mixing. A classic metal bowl can double as a double boiler or help temper chocolate, but if yours has rubber on the bottom you can’t do that. Having a wide range of sizes also helps when mixing wet ingredients and dry, and making a frosting at the same time. Less dish washing between recipes. Stick with this classic and you won’t be disappointed.
Many bakers might not think of this one, but once I added it to my baking routine, I can’t imagine not having it. There are a whole host of recipes that call for cutting circles, but if all different sizes. You can replace a donut cookie cutter with this set, you can make a variety of cookie sizes, cut fondant, make small pie crusts, the possibilities are endless. Also, these are compact and can be stored away super easy.
Now I thought about not adding this one, but decided it is a must need. If you read my post about my first KitchenAid, you will notice it took me a long time to invest in one. Many bakers either have one of these already, or want one, but it is out of their budget. For the latter group, this is why I added it to the list. Since people like to gift things people normally wouldn’t buy themselves, this item is a perfect Christmas candidate. As well as at Christmas time they offer the best deals! I personally own two of these bad boys, this model, and a slightly more powerful one. I use them both all the time, and don’t know what I would do with out them now. They make baking a much easier and less muscle intensive activity. All bakers should have one of these in their life for baking, and showing off on their counter!
I hope you found a gift from this list for the baker in your life!
Stay tuned for more 25 Days of Christmas My Urban Oven Style!
Look back at the first few days:
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