From French rolling pins to English copper cake molds, there are enough specialty tools and bakeware out there to distract even the most disciplined of cooks. Which tools are essential, and which are for fun? It’s confusing. Lucky for you, the number of tools that will give you a solid foundation in baking falls well below infinite. Behold, the six tools guaranteed to make you a better baker.

This is an essential investment. Batters, frostings, yeasted doughs, whipped cream—they become a breeze to make with this machine, or if not a breeze, at least your unsure butter-creaming arm will thank you. If you opt for a ubiquitous KitchenAid, you can accessorize with awesome attachments.

This really ups your baking game. When Serious Eats had 10 different people scoop 1 cup of flour, the weights varied from 4 to 6 ounces. Using a scale ensures consistent results. You can also measure out an entire recipe by simply placing a bowl on top of the scale, and zeroing it out between ingredients. The takeaway: less stuff to wash.

This little guy is indispensable for all kinds of dough: scones, pie pastry, bread dough. It can scrape up bits that seem completely adhered to your counter, turning what could have been a disaster into a save. Also works well for transporting chopped ingredients from board to bowl or pan.

An easy way to line your sheet pans and prevent cookies and other items from sticking. I cut parchment into strips a bit longer than my cake pans, and line the pans before greasing. It’s extra insurance that everything will (literally) turn out just fine.

We’ve all improvised with overturned muffin tins, but a proper wire cooling rack allows air to circulate all around your just-out-of-the-oven masterpiece, preventing overcooking from residual pan heat. It also helps prevent condensation from forming, which can make baked goods soggy.

If your baked goods have been coming out under- or overbaked, even when you follow the recipe, it probably means your oven isn’t heating properly. Using an oven thermometer ensures even results, leading to perfectly cooked baked goods every time.

Extra reading:
Baking 101 – What do I need?
Tipping the Balance for Kitchen Scales
How to Build a Baking Pantry
Why You Need a Cooling Rack

Oven thermometer photo by Flickr member under Creative Commons

Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master’s in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.
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