pastry tools

  1. 10 Baking Tools that the Home Baker Can't Live Without

    10 Baking Tools that the Home Baker Can't Live Without

    Baking tools Baking requires precision and a willingness to adapt to a changing recipe. So in order to get the most out of your baking experience, and to create the tastiest and most delicious baked goods and treats, you need baking tools that...

    Baking tools
    Baking tools

    Baking requires precision and a willingness to adapt to a changing recipe. So in order to get the most out of your baking experience, and to create the tastiest and most delicious baked goods and treats, you need baking tools that can do the job, and do it right.

    There are many important items a baker can't live without in the kitchen. So while there are several different types tools that the average home baker needs to bake, each individual baking situation dictates what tools are work best.

    Here now, are 10 of the most important tools-of-the-trade that a baker needs.

    1. Accurate and high quality measuring tools. Measuring cups and spoons for liquid and dry measurements are a great investment. To ensure that your baked goods come out as intended, your measuring cups have to be tooled so that they are accurate. Even a slight alteration in the design will leave your baked goods lacking. Never skimp on good measuring cups.

    Measuring Cups
    Measuring Cups

    2. Offset spatula. Prized by chefs the world over, an offset spatula is perhaps the handiest overall hand tool in your kitchen. With one, you can ice a cake, slice cheesecake and lasagna, and spread condiments with ease. Simply, all the things a butter knife can do, an offset spatula does better.

    3. Half sheet pans. Specifically the ones designed for commercial ventures, like the heavy-duty aluminum, 18x13 inch pans used for cookies; to place under sheets for cooking pies; to sit under cakes when you are adding toppings. You can't go wrong with a good quality half sheet pan.

    4. Digital Thermometer. While a traditional meat thermometer is OK for what it is, it isn't ideal for baking. Baking requires a thermometer that ranges above and below what a traditional meat thermometers can measure. For extreme accuracy, try a digital candy/sugar thermometer. It will also play double duty as it works with meat, too.

    Digital Thermometer
    Digital Thermometer

    5. Cooling racks. After it is all said and done, you need a place to let your baked goods rest and for air to circulate. A cooling rack lets this process happen naturally while stopping your delicious yummies from turning into a soggy mess.

    6. Bench scrapers. Such a simple tool, but so useful in the kitchen. They are a versatile little device that can easily scrape up ingredients, while at the same time, cut your brownies when you're done. For the consummate kitchen cleaner, a bench scraper wipes up every bit of flour from the counter.

    7. A mixer. Most people who bake have a mixer of some sort. Sometimes they have simple hand mixers, sometimes they have expensive machines from commercial kitchens. What's important, at the most base level, is that it suits your needs and minimizes the labor. But remember, you can always get a better one, so don't limit your baking needs and desires!

    8. Non-stick baking mat. To stop cookies from sticking to the tray, a silicone non-stick baking mat is how you avoid this. But it doesn't end with cookies. As with many items you use for baking, you can also use a non-stick baking mat for other parts of your home baking needs, including dinner items. Further, it is easily cleaned with soap and water.

    Cuisinox Mixing Bowl, Set of 3
    Cuisinox Mixing Bowl, Set of 3

    9. Metal mixing bowls. Never underestimate the power of a metal mixing bowl. Not only do they last forever, you can use them for just about anything in the kitchen and clean them up easily when you are finished with them. To really treat yourself, try some of the newer ones with no-slip bottoms.

    10. Pyrex liquid measuring cups. We know, measuring cups were already one the list, but not like these. Pyrex liquid measuring cups are more than the sum of their parts. Sure, they can measure liquids, but they can also be used to melt butter in the microwave, and are so strong you may end up buying one set of them that last decades.

    So there you have it. We hope that this list helps you become a better baker or, at the very least, gives you some ideas for how to make your kitchen experience even better.

    For more information on how we can help you with all of your baking needs, please contact us any time.

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  2. Just Roll With It - Necessary Pastry Tools

    Just Roll With It - Necessary Pastry Tools

    Illustration Many people are intimidated by making their own pastry, whether it be for a sumptuous pie, savory quiche, or buttery croissant. Really, the biggest secret to success is keeping your cool...and keeping the dough cool too. Flakiness comes...

    Illustration
    Illustration

    Many people are intimidated by making their own pastry, whether it be for a sumptuous pie, savory quiche, or buttery croissant. Really, the biggest secret to success is keeping your cool...and keeping the dough cool too.

    Flakiness comes from the pockets of air left behind when bits of butter melt away during the cooking process. This is why you "cut" globs of butter into a pastry or fold endless layers of butter into puff pastry. This is also why all pastry recipes caution against over-handling the pastry. The heat from your incredibly hot bod, 98.6 degrees to be exact, can quickly melt those oh so necessary bits of butter resulting in dense, disappointing dough. The problem is, if you are using subpar pastry tools, then it can be hard to work quickly enough to prevent a pastry meltdown.

    When working with pastry, there are two essential tools upon which you'll come to rely-the dough scraper and the rolling pin. The dough scraper, sometimes also known as a bench scraper, is a rather unappreciated little gizmo. Utterly simple, as most of the best gadgets are, it helps you handle the dough without touching it. There are many varieties out there, normally with a plastic or metal blade, of which metal is the most durable and effective for dividing dough. Outside of that, there are wooden, metal, and plastic handled varieties, of which the metal is the easiest to clean. Invaluable for measuring and dividing the dough and scraping it off the bench when it starts to stick (immediately throw the dough back in the fridge. Sticking is an indication of melting!), the bench scraper will also be come your best friend when cleaning up the left over flour and bits of dough glazed onto your counter top.

    Cookie Cutter & Dough Scraper
    Cookie Cutter & Dough Scraper

    When it comes to rolling pins, the variety is far more vast and the differences between them more important. There are two broad categories-the French rolling pin and a handled rolling pin. The difference being that the French rolling pin has no handles and is constructed of a single piece of material, typically wood, and generally tapered at the ends. The handled rolling pin is probably what most of us are accustomed to, having two wooden handles attached to a cylindrical block of wood employing ball bearings to keep everything rolling. The problem with the latter of these is that you have less control and are more prone to placing uneven pressure on your pastry. Of these two designs, the French rolling pin allows for more freedom of movement which helps when trying to roll out an actual round of dough rather than a squarish blob. It also helps in making sure that the dough is more evenly rolled so you don't end up with holes or under-baked crust.

    Whether purchasing the French or handled variety, there are many options outside of wood, these days. The four main materials are wood, marble, silicone, and metal. Wood is the classic, and easily found, but caution should be taken when purchasing. Wood is by nature extremely porous. High quality rolling pins of wood will have been cut and milled to prevent exposure of the grain and treated to seal the wood. Otherwise, you'll find your dough sticking more than not, your pin absorbing moisture, flavors, and smells, and often the pin will crack on you. High-quality wooden pins won't have these issues, but care should be taken never to submerge them in water and to oil them regularly, just the same.

    Rolling Pin
    Rolling Pin

    Marble has been touted as the pastry chef's friend for centuries, largely due to its ability to remain cool and help prevent melting. It is rather pricey, however, and if you drop it, can either crack a toe or itself. Should you have a home-invader though, it is by far the most effective pin for self-defense.

    Marble Rolling pin
    Marble Rolling pin

    Silicone seems to pop up in more and more places in the culinary world, including rolling pins. In muffin pans and silicone mats, its ability to revert back to room temperature quickly is quite the benefit, but it does very little to prevent melting, making it less fabulous for pastry handling.

    Silicone Rolling Pin
    Silicone Rolling Pin

    Finally, there's the less common metal variety, and it has my vote by far. The metal versions are generally a French style rolling pin, allowing for excellent maneuverability. The pin can be kept in the fridge, thus helping to keep the dough chilled even as you are working with it. It's exceptionally easy to clean, very hygienic, and durable. And, metal pins are very reasonably priced.

    Although pastry can seem daunting, it's really quite simple with a few hard fast rules. Don't over-mix and don't over-heat. The tools associated with it are equally simple, but make a world of difference in achieving crisp, flaky, fluffy pastry delights. A wee investment now into those that work best for you can result in decades of pastry praise and satisfaction.

    Contact us for more information on any of the products mentioned above and for more simple tricks to making your culinary difficulties into culinary delights!

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