Words by Anneka Manning
Having a carefully selected collection of utensils in your “second drawer” can do a lot for your baking confidence and success. These five essential baking tools (all favourites of mine) are a little less obvious than a set of measuring spoons or a spatula, but they are just as important. All can be easily picked up at the supermarket or kitchenware store if you don’t already have them.
Even with my experience, I always like to use a timer, mainly because I get distracted easily with other things. A portable digital timer is an extremely handy tool for your kitchen, even if your oven already has a built-in one – they are accurate and can be taken with you if you leave the kitchen. It’s a small price to pay to prevent overcooking something, which can be incredibly disappointing.
Use it for brushing egg wash, milk, glazes and sugar syrups over dough, tarts and cakes. It is also handy for greasing cake pans and baking trays with melted butter and oil. Don’t use the natural or nylon-bristled brushes in boiling liquids or hot fat, and avoid really cheap pastry brushes, as they can lose their bristles easily. To care for a pastry brush, wash it by hand in hot soapy water, rinse it well and then let it air dry thoroughly before storing, so it won’t hold any grease or odours.
You may not think this is an essential but believe me, a ruler can save a lot of time and bother in the kitchen. Cake and tart pans, biscuit cutters and piping nozzles are just some of the things that you will need to check the size of. Remember, what you may think is a 20cm round cake pan may in fact be a 24cm one – a little detail that could mean the difference between success and failure of a cake. It is also handy to have a ruler when you are rolling out biscuit dough or pastry so you can tell when you have reached the right thickness. A clear plastic one is the best to have on hand.
Basically this is just a thin skewer of metal that can be bought at the supermarket or a kitchenware store. If you have a thin bamboo skewer, it will work just as well. You stick it into the centre of a cake (or muffin or cupcake or slice) to check if it is cooked – the skewer will come out clean if it is. If wet batter is sticking to it then you need to cook it for longer. Sometimes, however, particularly for brownies or flourless chocolate cakes, the recipe will specify that “crumbs cling to a skewer when inserted”. This is what you will be looking for when testing and ensures that the brownie or cake ends up with a “fudgy” texture.
Whatever the grating job, a box grater with a number of perforation sizes will usually cover them all. However I also love my rasp-like Microplane for finely grating things like citrus rind, nutmeg and parmesan.
What’s your must-have “second drawer” baking tool?
Until next week… happy baking!
For more posts by Anneka Manning, click here.
Anneka Manning is a food author and the founder of exciting new Sydney-based cooking school, BakeClub. Visit her website at www.bakeclub.com.au to join the club, book into a BakeClass, download delicious no-fail recipes and be inspired by baking videos. You can also find BakeClub on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. To find out more or ask about private BakeClub classes, call (02) 9399 7645 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.