Updated: Mar 20, 2021
by JESSE SZEWCZYK published SEP 7, 2020
STUDIO FOOD EDITOR
When it comes to deciding which baking tools are worth investing in and which aren’t, nobody knows better than the pros. From bread bakers to cake decorators to bloggers, professional bakers know what tools are worth investing in and which aren’t.
To help us all prepare for the upcoming holiday season (it’ll be pie and cookie time before you know it!), we asked five pro bakers for their recommendations. Here are the tools they told us to get.
Tiny Offset Spatulas
Ask just about any professional baker what their top tool is and chances are many will pick a small offset spatula. “A good offset spatula is helpful for frosting cakes and flipping items on a griddle. I’ve even used one to tighten a KitchenAid mixer screw,” says Ben Weiner, food stylist and pastry chef at C&B Cafe in New York City. These small-but-mighty tools are infinitely helpful, and the offset blade means your hand won’t drag on the cake and that picture-perfect swooshes of frosting will be a breeze to create.
A Wooden Rolling Pin
Although easy to overlook, having the right rolling pin can be the difference between a perfectly even pie crust and one that’s wonky. “A wooden rolling pin is very important for rolling out and laminating doughs. I actually use my grandmother’s wooden rolling pin,” explains Weiner. Some bakers on the Kitchn team prefer rolling pins with handles so they can work quickly, but the French-style pins without handles are also great. The latter have tapered ends that make rolling even sheets easy — and they just happen to look beautiful in your kitchen.
Although you can technically use a fine-mesh strainer to sift your dry ingredients, having the real deal makes life infinitely easier. “I love my sifter. It’s so versatile,” says Vallery Lomas, food writer, soon-to-be cookbook author, and winner of The Great American Baking Show. “I use it for sifting cake flour, powdered sugar, and even for straining out raspberries from purées. I’ve had the same one for a decade and it’s miraculously still one of my go-to tools.”
“If chefs have knives, then bakers have spatulas,” declares Lomas. “They’ve got so many functions, from scraping down a mixing bowl to stirring jam.” Any serious baker knows that bendy spatulas are an absolute must for any kitchen. How else would you gently fold chocolate into whipped egg whites, or scrape every last bit of batter into a pan? They are arguably the most versatile and important tool in a professional bakeshop.
A Pastry Brush
These handy brushes, recommended by food stylist Judy Kim, are the perfect tool for egg washing the top of a pie, brushing cream on dough, or gently painting glaze over the top of a fruit tart. The brush soaks up whatever liquid you’re working with, making it easy to brush it on top without making a mess.
Ice Cream Scoops
Kim also recommends stocking up on ice cream scoops. These are not only great for scooping ice cream (obviously), but also for portioning out cookie dough. The spring-loaded scoops make it easy to scoop even-sized dough balls, ensuring that your cookies will be consistent.
A Stainless Steel Bench Scraper
Bench scrapers are great for cutting doughs, transferring items off of your cutting board and into a bowl, and scraping bits of food that get stuck to your work surface. They’re also a handy tool for cake decorating, helping create super-smooth sides and tops of cakes. “This baby helps get the absolute cleanest lines so your cakes look like they came out of a top-notch bakery,” explains Jocelyn Delk Adams, the baking genius behind the popular food blog Grandbaby Cakes. “It also creates wonderfully sharp edges on the tops of your cake.”
A Digital Thermometer
For anyone interested in candy-making or whipping up batches of homemade buttercream frosting, a digital kitchen thermometer will be your best friend. “These help me get my Swiss and Italian buttercream frostings to the perfect temperature during the beginning stages of the process,” says Delk Adams. You can also use it to check to see if your sourdough bread is perfectly baked. Ditto for a pan of cinnamon rolls.
A Digital Kitchen Scale
Measuring ingredients by weight and not volume yields more accurate results and is a preferred method for most professional bakers. “Coupled with well-developed recipes that are written in weighted amounts, it reduces the amount of dirty dishes exponentially and yields perfect results every time,” says food stylist and recipe developer Beth Somers.
Adjustable Measuring Cups
Adjustable measuring cups are exactly what they sound like: measuring cups that can be pushed up or down to yield different measurements. They help reduce the amount of dishes you have to wash and save space in your kitchen. “They’re perfect for measuring anything sticky like honey or maple syrup because they push out every single drop without a mess. I also use mine for semisolids like nut butters, yogurt, and sour cream. It’s so much easier than scraping out measuring cups,” says Somers.
What baking tools do you swear by? Let us know in the comments!