My Favorite Baking Gear.

By: Jen Shoop

Mr. Magpie gave me this baking cookbook for Christmas and I have found myself clipping back in to the art of baking. I find the recipes fun, extraordinarily well-written, and thoroughly researched. I have learned so much already. I recently shared some fantastic kitchen gear we love and swear by, but wanted to run a post more oriented towards us bakers (and I know there are many who read this blog). Below, items I absolutely love for baking.

best baking gear

BRAVETART COOKBOOK — As mentioned above, I am obsessed with this cookbook. Everything I’ve made of hers has turned out perfectly. She does a fantastic job of explaining the science/technique without being too esoteric or irritating. She has a knack for explaining how ingredients should look/feel in easy-to-interpret language, i.e., the softness of butter, the degree to which whites should be whipped, etc. I find her recipes ultra-reliable. I have amassed quite a library of baking books, but the only other voice I trust implicitly is Martha Stewart, and even then, I find variation between versions of her books/recipes. Stella Parks is even more reliable IMO. Sorry Martha!

KITCHENAID MIXING BOWLS — The best because they are lightweight (and therefore easy to wield when combining ingredients) but sturdy enough that they can withstand a hand mixer/heavy whisk. The spout also facilitates pouring, and the sizes are perfection for nearly any baking need. Also store neatly in a cupboard.

NIELSEN MASSEY VANILLA — The biggest leap in the quality of my baked goods? High-caliber ingredients. I think Nielsen Massey’s vanilla is the absolute best. Mr. Magpie sent me an article last year asserting that actually McCormick’s vanilla is the best according to super-tasters and various other criteria I can’t now remember. For awhile, I switched back to the grocery store variety. Much cheaper and easier to come by. But I simply disagree. I think NM’s vanilla is much richer and more round in flavor than any other variety I’ve tried.

KERRYGOLD BUTTER — Similar to note above, I only bake with Kerrygold or Plugra unsalted butter at this point. You can *really* taste the quality of butter in baking because so many of the recipes are butter-forward/butter-intensive, especially in cookies! Trust me, this is worth the expense.

KITCHENAID HAND MIXER — I have a full-sized stand mixer, too, and could not live without it but I love this little guy so much. Frankly, if I can get away with using the hand mixer instead of Big Sis, I will. This is so lightweight and easy to use and you have the added advantage of being able to “get under” things in a way you can’t with a stand mixer. I’m thinking specifically of egg whites and whipping cream — so much easier to get them thoroughly mixed and aerated when you can control the angle of the beaters with your hand.

VOLLRATH BAKING SHEETS — Heavy duty, do not warp, conduct heat well. La creme de la creme.

COOKIE SCOOP — I went for years without owning one of these, and have no clue why. They yield much more regular results (duh) than eye-balling/rolling by hand and make the process much cleaner and simpler. I like that you can get different sizes, too, depending on what type of cookie you’re scooping.

BATTER BOWL — This is not the exact brand I own, but a batter bowl is essential to baking! I use this shape more regularly than any other in my arsenal because the handle makes for easy pouring, even when I’m not making a cake batter. I simply like it for ease of pouring items together. However, it is ideal for cake batter!

BAKING AND COOLING GRID — For most of my life, I used a cooling rack without the grid (just vertical lines straight across) and those always left an imprint on the underside of the cookie / sometimes the cookies would break across the gaps. This grid solves that problem and enables cookies to cool evenly without losing their shape. These are also oven-safe in the event you have a purpose for that. I think Mr. Magpie has even used these for dry-brining meats.

8″ WHISK — We have tons of whisks but this small one is my favorite. It’s much easier to wield and control than the others we have. I trust there are reasons to have differently lengthed whisks but I have tiny hands and I find this far easier to manipulate than any other I’ve ever tried.

FAT DADDIO CAKE TINS — Mr. Magpie discovered these on some random corner of the Internet/Reddit and they truly are excellent. They come in tons of depths, shapes, etc, and they bake very evenly. I think it has something to do with the type and thickness of metal — it conducts heat more evenly.

KITCHEN SCALE — I actually own the OXO brand but I would advocate for this one because it is well-reviewed (Wirecutter’s top pick), half the price, and I love that it’s entirely coated in a wipeable material, which would be incredibly handy.

Not seen above but must mention: WS’s goldtouch loaf pans and cupcake tins. They are heavy-duty and nonstick. So easy to get a banana bread out of these bad boys!

P.S. Some favorite baking recipes (more here). These are billed by season but many of them work year-round! (Sugar cookies?!)

P.P.S. Lessons learned while baking.

P.P.P.S. In praise of getting dressed, or — I love my husband.

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20 thoughts on “My Favorite Baking Gear.

  1. I second so many of these recs! Having the right equipment makes baking that much more enjoyable. A few years ago I began making my own vanilla (Ina Garten’s recipe) and store it in a large Le Parfait jar. It has been fantastic. Quality vanilla is so expensive and I go through it so quickly!

  2. I have been meaning to get that Stella Parks cookbook- I’ve been following her around the internet for years (Serious Eats, etc.) My go-to for all things recipes as well as products remains King Arthur Flour, though. They’re real pros, but they’re not overly fussy. Sometimes I’ll compare a KAF recipe to a Claire Saffitz one, for example (don’t get me wrong, I love me some Claire) and the KAF one will be 50% less fussy for 95% of the same great result. I would expect nothing less from practical Vermonters!

    1. I love this! I’m not familiar with KAF so will immediately start using as a cross reference since several of you have cited them here. Thanks! I love an unfussy recipe!


    2. Co-signing on the King Arthur Flour recipe website! I agree with what Anna has said — so informative yet unfussy. I have had very good results from their bread recipes. I also love how they can take something as simple as banana bread for example and give you several variations/substitutions (and corresponding measurements) for it, which I think helps the reader understand the underlying science of baking (e.g., using liquid sweetener like maple syrup vs brown sugar yields this result vs that result). I use KAF flours (all-purpose, whole wheat) too, and I’m remembering now how KAF flour practically flew off the shelves when the pandemic started.

      1. Interesting point, Mia – I love recipes that explain what substitutions will/will not work and why. So helpful!

  3. I ordered the magnetic measuring spoons on your other kitchen gear post, and they are AMAZING. I immediately had a second set sent to my mom. Where have these been all my life?! Thanks as always for the great recommendation!

    I also made the caldo verde soup–delicious, and perfect for the frigid weather we’ve been having!

    1. Yay! It’s the little things, right? I really love that those spoons have two scoops (one on each end). You can always get the narrow one into a spice jar! And I can’t tell you how often I need two 1 tsp measures for two different ingredients. Just the most thoughtful creation.

      SO glad you loved the Caldo Verde! I’ve had several readers send me pictures of their own soup pots after trying the recipe! Just delicious!


  4. Intrigued by that cookbook! I used to follow her when I was active on Instagram and her creations looked delicious. This post is very appropriate considering I’m reading it while eating scones that I baked this morning! I used the King Arthur recipe. My favorite hack is to mix up biscuits or scones and pop them in the freezer instead of baking right away. Then you get fresh baked goods for breakfast without all the work first thing in the morning – just pull out of freezer and add several minutes to baking time. I don’t have any groundbreaking tools for baking, but I can’t live without parchment paper. I tried the silicone mats in the name of less paper waste…but I found they changed the texture of cookies and things didn’t brown up on the bottom. Plus it was hard to wash the grease off completely (esp if used to roast veggies or something) and a pain to hang them up to dry.

    1. Oh man I love the idea of a freshly baked scone in the morning! My stomach is actually grumbling at the thought!

      Also a big fan of parchment paper for the reasons you cite!


    2. Agree on parchment paper vs silicone mats, Stephanie! I switched for the same reasons you did, but went back to parchment for the same reasons too. I try to help myself feel better about it by using unbleached parchment, though it’s still paper (insert shrug emoji) — but like you I much prefer the results when using parchment. And yes the grease residue on the mats despite running them through the dishwasher — ugh! In fact once when I reused the mats the residual grease ended up giving off so much smoke in the oven, yikes.

      1. This exchange is also giving me cold sweats because we use silicon mats every morning, noon, and night beneath my children’s meals and those things are SO hard to clean and even harder to dry. They are always dangling over the Boon racks or over the sink spigot and they drive me crazy. I keep going back and forth on whether to just get rid of them, though they have saved us many spills onto the floor (they have a slight “lip” that keeps liquids in check) and marks on the table and all that. Still…now I’m wondering what the heck I’ve been doing all this time. Maybe just easier to sponge down the table at the end. HA!


  5. While I used to only use the WS gold pans, I have since converted to USA pans. Highly recommend as nothing sticks to them and baking is incredibly even! I am slowly swapping/upgrading all baking pans/items to these as items wear.


  6. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy your “best of” lists!

    Totally agree on NM vanilla, Kerrygold, and Williams Sonoma gold touch pans. We get Kerrygold in a 4-pack from Costco! I’ve turned even my 4 year old into a butter snob, haha. She specifically requests Kerrygold salted butter for everything.

    I also need to profess my love for GIR (Get It Right) spatulas. I’ve learned that not all spatulas are created equal in their scraping capabilities. It makes such a difference in evenly creamed/mixed/aerated (or whatever) batter when I can stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and also I like being able to far every last bit of batter from the bowl and into the baking pan. GIR spatulas scrape the bowl so cleanly! Something about its construction — the way the edges were shaped — make them superior to my WS spatulas in my view. I didn’t think I could say this much about spatulas, but I had to share!

    1. Oooo, OK! Sold on the spatulas! Thank you!

      We also buy Kerrygold in bulk from Costco and then just freeze them if they aren’t going to be used immediately. Butter freezes and thaws beautifully!


    2. OOPS! “POUR every last bit of batter”, not “far”! But I’m sure you knew what I meant!

      I’ll be stopping by our local bookstore to browse through Bravetart — I’m intrigued! I know perceived sweetness is relative, but how do you find the sugar amounts in her book? With Ina Garten’s recipes (and most American recipes) for baked goods, I almost always reduce the sugar quite a bit.

      Enjoying the baking convo going on here!

      1. Hmmm, that’s a good question. I would say they’re on the “normal sweetness level for American baked goods.” Definitely not under-sweet but not saccharine either. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is divine and I don’t think I’ll switch again after using the classic Tollhouse recipe for decades. Here’s why: she has you use chopped chocolate rather than chips and she explains that this means you get more of a marbleized effect with little slivers/ribbons of chocolate melting into the dough (i.e., from the little shards from chopping the chocolate) and the result is a much more powerful and deliciously chocolatey experience, versus classic choc chip, where you basically have a butter cookie studded with tiny explosions of chocolate. Anyway, that recipe is brilliant for that reason and others but she does put salt on the top which I think tempers the sweetness nicely there and I think she is considerate elsewhere of the sugariness, too.


    3. Thanks, Jen, for the additional feedback on Bravetart!

      Re: chocolate chip cookies: YES to chopped chocolate vs chips! This is how I make it too. It’s an extra step but well worth it for the reasons you mentioned. I also follow Jacques Torres’ tip on resting the dough for 24 hours (up to 72 hours I believe, but I think I only made it to 48, ha!) before scooping and baking — have you tried it this way? It makes for a more complex flavor.

      Oh man, now I want cookies, STAT.

      1. Oo, I haven’t heard that trick! Will try that next time for sure! One other tip from Bravetart that I’d also heard from Christina Tosi of MilkBar fame is to cream the ingredients for a long, long time. I remember Tosi saying that this was one of the most common “shortcomings” or “oversights” of home cooks — you should cream butter/sugar for like 5 or 10 minutes! I think it has to do with aeration, or maybe temperature? Consistency? Not sure, ha. But I do think the results pay off.


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