MY TOP BAKING ESSENTIALS
Not a lot of people know this, but I started my chef career in pastry, so I’m very particular about my baking utensils. Saying that, there’s no need to go overly fancy either. In the end, the greatest joy you get out of baking is when a perfectly risen loaf peeks at you from behind the oven glass and you go, “I can’t believe I did that!” All you need is a baking set that won’t let you down. This is my list of indispensable baking essentials.
Have you ever tried using anything else when rolling out a ball of rough puff? Didn’t think so. There are many rolling pins out there, and I’ve probably tried all of them, but I always come back to a basic beechwood pin – no handles, no mechanics, just perfectly round and ready for action! Beech is also naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and to clean, simply rinse with boiling water.
The humble wooden spoon needs no introduction. In my mind, the slick and brightly-coloured silicone spatula just doesn’t have the same personality, although nothing beats that non-stick slickness when scraping a sauce out of a bowl. But a wooden spoon! No kitchen implement grows with you in quite the same way. It was there when you made your first cake batter, and there when you stirred your first spoonful of turmeric through your first curry. You can tell I’m getting a tad sentimental.
Few things freshen up a dish quite like a splash of citrus – particularly lemon. Enter the lemon squeezer: that super simple, light-as-a-feather, low-tech, high-on-practicality implement that, if you don’t have one already, tell no one and get on it.
Whether you use it to keep the milk you have in your tea or for the freshly squeezed lemon juice you’re going to be using in a vinaigrette, a cute little jug is one of the handiest items in your culinary arsenal.
For serious baking, you can’t wing it. Keep a croissant or a chocolate fondant in the oven a moment too long and you’ve got a super buttery bread roll or a springy chocolate cake. As with so much in life, timing is everything.
As with a kitchen timer, precision is the difference between a refined brioche and a rustic fougasse. Whether tempering chocolate or baking a cake, a thermometer is indispensable. And when you consider that, after a couple of uses, your oven’s thermometer shifts a degree or two, a handheld thermometer is the only way to ensure your bake is the right temperature.
For a long time, I tried to convince myself that a vintage analogue scale would do the trick (they just complete the look of a kitchen, don’t they?), but the truth is, you can’t beat a digital scale’s accuracy.
Measuring Jug / Batter Bowl
Like death and taxes, washing the dishes is one of those things you can never escape. So when something like a combination measuring-jug-batter-bowl comes along, you take it – especially when that same vessel can go into the oven without cracking. You won’t believe how much you can do with this one kitchen implement.