It’s the time of year when the kitchen seems to have a permanent dusting of flour on all surfaces. I sort of give up on deep cleaning until the cookie season has ended.
If you love to bake and are constantly in the kitchen with the oven on, then I think you deserve a few tools that make all those batches of cookies, bars, and candies a little easier.
Here are nine tools that will make your life a little better, at least as far as baking goes. What other things have you found helpful in your kitchen?
1. Cookie scoops
These little guys are worth the splurge. They make it so much easier to scoop and portion batch after batch of cookies. You can usually find them in three sizes – small, medium, and large. Use them to make whichever sized cookies you want.
Also, you might think they're uni-taskers, but they're not. These scoops also double as melon ballers, meatball portioners, pesto scoopers, and so many other things. I even use my large 1/4-cup scoop to dole out pancake batter!
But honest to goodness, during the holidays they are absolutely indispensable.
2. Silpat Nonstick Baking Mats
These reusable baking pan liners last forever and are totally non-stick. Use them in place of parchment or foil when baking cookies, and your cookies will lift easily from the pan. Just wipe clean and reuse for the next batch!
Silpats are also great when you're making candy. The smooth, heat-resistant surface facilitates easy clean-up of any mess.
3. Rolling pin guides
These thick rubber bands slip onto the ends of your rolling pin and help you roll pie doughs and cookie doughs to an even thickness without needing to guesstimate. It’s like having training wheels for your rolling pin.
4. Pie weights
Yes, dried beans work well in a pinch, but pie weights are worth the investment. Tiny, ceramic, and heavier than beans, they will help make blind baking your pie crusts a breeze.
5. Digital kitchen scale
Increasingly these days, baking recipes are listing ingredients both by volume (cups and tablespoons) and by weight (grams and ounces). Precision counts when you're baking, and weighing your ingredients with a digital kitchen scale will give you the most precise results.
It can make the difference between a so-so dessert and a perfect one.
6. Bowl scraper
Better than a spatula, these flexible scrapers can go where no other spatula can go. They help you scoop out every spare ounce of your hard-working batters and doughs, often giving you just one more cookie when you didn’t think there was enough dough left.
7. Dough whisk
This is odd-looking whisk does one job well: mixing dense, sticky doughs. A regular whisk will get gunked up, and a spatula doesn't always get the ingredients fully mixed. A dough whisk is the best of both worlds.
8. Bench scraper or extra-large spatula
When you’re cranking out lots and lots of cookies during the holiday season, sometimes you’ve got special ones that don’t fit on the average spatula. I have an extra-large silicon spatula and using it ensures that these larger cookies survive the transfer from tray to cooling rack completely intact.
And when you're baking smaller cookies, bench scrapers and large spatulas make it easy to transfer several at once!
9. Thin metal spatula
Broken cookies make me sad, so I find a thin metal spatula really useful when making very delicate baked goods, such as cut-out cookies or lace cookies.
These cookies need to be gently coaxed from a baking sheet and gently transferred to the cooling rack, and a thin metal spatula is the perfect tool for the job.