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.
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.
P.P.S. Lessons learned while baking.