Kitchen Must Haves
It has been a crazy couple of months trying to sit down and write this next blog. I finally sat down to do it, and I had no idea what to write…
I was talking with a friend who was attempting to bake up her own bread and as we were talking, I was giving her some baking tips I took for granted I’ve been using for the past twenty years. After baking for so long, I’ve made my share of mistakes and have learned a lot based on those mistakes.
So here are some tips I’d like to share with anyone looking to use in the kitchen. Whether you are cooking or baking, I think these will help anyone be successful in the kitchen.
Buy Yourself a good kitchen scale…
The first few years of having my kitchen scale, I think I only used it a handful of times. Now that I have gotten more into baking breads, it has been my most favorite investment. I don’t ue my scale for all my recipes, but I do have those select few that really make a difference in the accuracy of what I am measuring. My most important bread recipe would be my sourdough. Every day I weight out my flour and water to the nearest gram in order to feed my starter. Being able to weigh each of these elements has really made my starter successful.
Don’t open the oven while baking….
I know, it is sometimes difficult to not peek at what is happening in your oven. But I can tell you, every time you open the oven, you will lose valuable heat your baked goods will need. Especially when you are baking bread, cookies, or cakes. Each oven will have their own cooking times, so those first few attempts at a recipe will be difficult to abide by this rule. But once you have your time down, there is no reason to open the oven. The ONLY time I do open my oven is to rotate my pan at the halfway point. I’ve learned that my oven specifically has hot and cold spots which I have learned to deal with. So get to know your oven like it is your best friend :)
I can never have too many kitchen towels. You really don’t need towels when you are doing anything outside of baking bread…. Besides drying your hands and keeping them clean in the kitchen.
For most of the breads I make, there is some sort of resting or rising time before actually baking. A good clean kitchen towel is one of the kitchen gadgets (if you can even call them that), I use with EVERY recipe. Sounds silly but super useful. So stock up and keep them right next to your oven.
New Baking pans…
My husband recently bought me some aluminum sheet pans which are the most amazing pans I have ever baked with! They clean so easily and I love how sturdy they feel. I don’t have to worry about them cracking or getting black… We all have those pans. So black they look hundred of years old, but you keep using them because that is all you have. Throw them away right now, especially if you want to do a little more baking in your life. Buy yourself one of these and you will not want to go back.
Stainless Steel measuring Cups & Spoons…
By far, the one thing I absolutely hate are measuring cups that have the measurements peel off after a few months of using them. About thirteen years ago, I invested in stainless steel measuring devices. The most important part of these, is that the measurements are engraved in the handle. After more than a decade, my measuring cups have no indication of the numbers wearing away…. Spend the money and buy a set right now!
Bowls, Bowls, Bowls…
Maybe it’s just me, but I'm obsessed with bowls. Mixing bowls, popcorn bowls, cereal bowls, or salad bowls. You can’t go wrong with having every type of bowl in your cabinet. But, for the purpose of this blog, I’ll focus on mixing bowls.
A good mixing bowl when you are baking or making bread is essential. I use stainless steel bowls for all my baking needs. From mixing up sweet breads or cookies, to the rising of all my breads. They are the sturdiest of all my bowls to complete both of these tasks. So if you need a good solid bowl in your kitchen, I highly recommend multiple stainless steel bowls of various sizes. I have a set that just came with three different sizes, along with lids.
Room temperature ingredients…
The three main ingredients that come to my head are Eggs, butter, or any type of cream.
Eggs actually blend better when they are at room temperature when mixing up breads. Cold eggs can shock the mixing process and create more lumps in your dough or a longer bake time for your bread. Bread is a very delicate process and sort of like a math equation. When you don’t complete the steps as intended, your end result may differ. So be patient and your breads will taste and look better in the end.
Butter is one ingredient I always keep in my cupboard. From buttering a piece of bread to adding it to my baking recipes, it is just a lot easier to work with. Just like eggs, the butter will make a seamless transition from your cupboard to dough if the butter is already soft. The harder the butter, the clumpier your dough will be. And no one likes clumps! Especially when mixing up bread.
Even though it took me forever to write up this blog, I hope you appreciate some of these pointers. There are definitely a few more tips I could have added to this list, but these are my top seven essentials I feel are the way to be a successful cook :)
Enjoy and Bon Appétit!