I bet you’ve always wanted a peek into the Canteen kitchen, right? Kidding. It’s boring. It’s small and there’s never room for everything.
In fact, there’s a rotation system – it’s called something is always on the counter appearing as though it will be put away. But it won’t cause there’s no room at the inn. Things in that role rotate so it really just looks like I casually left stuff out on purpose. Furthest thing, ever. There’s just not enough room and I can’t seem to get rid of stuff. Because I might need it. One day. One day a year from now or five years from now. But I might need it.
But the things I can’t live without in my baking kitchen? It’s a medium-long but simple list. The lucky 13, a few of my favorite things (yep, seriously).
- A few skinny and fat silicone spatulas will help get every bit of batter into the pan. I replace them every couple of years or when the ends fall off, whichever comes first.
- Big, medium and small whisks and make that two of each because you can’t always know if you need to whisk the dry stuff after you’ve whisked the wet stuff – sometimes it happens. Better to have spare back-ups. They last forever if you spring for the sturdy ones like these. Did I mention forever?
- Wooden spoons with long handles and don’t spend a fortune on these because they get replaced every couple of years or when the dishwasher cooks one on the heating element, whichever comes sooner. Longer handles give you more leverage and keep batter from getting all over your hands.
- At least two sets of measuring spoons because everyone measures something wet and forgets all the dry stuff. Spare back-ups! These are the kind I use and they’ve been around longer than the whisks.
- Parchment paper is to baking as paper towels are to everything else. They make life so much easier plus they can be used a number of times before they fizzle out. No need to waste them by using them once. Most of the time, that is. I like to buy these from King Arthur and a couple of times a year they offer parchment with free shipping which is when I stock up.
- Baking sheets with rims, heavy baking sheets with rims. I got mine 450 years back from a kitchen shop and they look like it, but they remain a workhorse. Not only do they get used for baking, but for roasting vegetables, meats, bacon, and much more. The size you want is 13 x 18 inches – a half sheet size. I also keep quarter sheet pans and use those mostly for testing a cookie or two when I’m developing a recipe or as a shield under the microwave exhaust fan for the oven when I know something will set off the smoke alarms (they’re mighty sensitive).
- I do have measuring cups but they’re mostly used as scoops. I cannot live without a good scale. I’ve gone through a few including some that were for looks more than precision. Now I have a really homely looking but very accurate scale that plugs in so it never dies in the middle of anything. If you are a baker who uses weights exclusively or just someone who really likes precision I recommend this My Weigh scale thing. Most any scale that measures up to 4 to 6 kilos which is about 9 to 13 pounds will work. Down to 1 gram is fine for home baking.
- A microplane will be an important addition to your kitchen. When you need to zest, these are the go-to tools. I started with one and now have a few I’ve collected over the years because I’m constantly tossing it into the sink in the middle of a project without remembering I might need it again (see, whisks: bad planning). They’re good for scraping a nutmeg (freshly grated nutmeg is fantastic and easy to do) zesting anything, grating really hard cheeses and knuckles (just kidding, sort of).
- Rolling pins are useful for more than rolling out dough. You can smash nuts with them, make breadcrumbs, flatten chicken (wrapped in plastic), and use it to hold open a page in a cookbook. Multitasker, that rolling pin. Get the French type, all wood. Easier to use and no need for those goofy handles.
- Dough scoops make those cookies come out looking uniform. They’re what makes the cupcakes all the same size so they bake evenly. Scoops are your best friend. As you can see, I’ve collected plenty over the years and I still use them all. Sometimes all at once when I’m recipe testing. Getting a couple in the same size is handy, but getting a set is nice because you can scoop little cookies, bigger cookies and cupcakes.
- A stand mixer is a luxury for sure. But it can be a pretty big workhorse and worth the investment. They can last a lifetime. In fact, a used or refurbished mixer is often just as reliable as a new one. If an old relic can be found at a yard sale, even better. Those were really built to last. But nothing whips up buttercream or even cookie dough like a stand mixer.
- Small offset spatulas are useful for lifting the edge of brownie bars from the pan, moving cookies from parchment to cooling racks, getting finicky tarts out of their pans, spreading icing on cakes and generally being a big old helper in the kitchen.
- This thermapen has been with me for more than half a dozen years and I use it constantly. It’s the insta-read queen. I’ve wanted to take cakes, breads and other things out of the oven thinking they were done based just on a toothpick test when the thermapen told me otherwise. I was annoyed that it cost this much, but years later I’m glad I splurged. It’s a workhorse.
Told you. I have a lot of stuff in the kitchen. There’s more, but for another day. If I had to name the top three items I couldn’t manage without it would be the scale, the baking sheets, and scoops. Maybe the parchment. Wait. I know. Chocolate. Oh.
Till next time.