Have you been baking longer than you can remember?
Or maybe you’re trying to get started as a professional baker but you have a very limited budget to spend on supplies? Or maybe you simply love to bake but you’re not sure what tools you need to get started.
Over the years you’ve probably invested in lots of different kitchen tools and gadgets. Some work, some don’t, and others you can’t remember why you bought them in the first place. Does this sound familiar?
I know for sure that I’ve been there. In all my years of baking, both professionally and not, I’ve come across some baking tools I love, and others that I loathe. So consider this your one stop shop for cake baking basics: essential tools for the absolute beginner cake maker. These tools won’t break the bank, but are an excellent place to start if you want to make good cakes. These are the backbone of any baking kit.
So without further ado, here are what I consider the top nine essential tools if you’d like to start baking at home…
Kitchen Aid Hand Mixer
What I own and love: Kitchenaid 5 speed hand mixer.
This little mixer is a workhorse. Don’t let it’s size fool you- it can whip up anything from cookie dough to cake batter to perfectly peaked meringue.
It’s compact, lightweight and easy to store. This is my go to mixer for whipping up royal icing for my decorated cookies. I actually find that it does this particular job better than my stand mixer.
In fact, if I have small size batches of anything, like, let’s say only 1 dozen cupcakes to make, this is the mixer that I’ll be reaching for. And when I’m done with it, just a quick wipe down, then pop it back into the smallest kitchen cabinet, and clean up is done.
I also love that it comes in so many colours. That makes it a really fun piece of equipment since you can choose one based off of your own style and personality.
Now, if you’re baking for more than a hobby, or you like to whip up large batches for parties or bake sales, then a stand mixer is key – I recommend this one. But for beginner bakers a hand mixer is perfect. Completely affordable and fantastic quality.
Have you ever tried frosting a cake with a butter knife?
I think everyone under the sun must have done that at at least one point in their life. Do you remember the results? A streaky, cracked or lumpy finish to your frosting. You end up with a cake that looks like it walked right out of a 1940’s housewife magazine. And there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s the look you’re trying to achieve! But what about all those modern cake finishes?
They’re so smooth and perfect. How on earth is that achieved? Well let me introduce you to one of my best friends, the offset spatula.
An offset spatula is used for applying frosting to your baked and cooled cakes. It can be used to scoop up frosting from a bowl and then smushed on to the top and sides of your cake.
The angled handle helps keeps your fingers out of the frosting as you ice the cake. This will keep both you and your cake looking nice and clean. Because the spatula has smooth edges, your cake will have a much smoother finish than using a knife to frost.
I use this 3-piece set from Witlon on every cake that I decorate. But how do you get the extra crisp finishes that you see most professional cakes? Let me introduce to you the offset spatula’s cousin…
The Bench Scraper
This tool goes hand in hand with an offset spatula if you want to achieve crisp, clean lines on your cake.
With practice, you can get lines that are so sharp, you might question yourself if the cake you just decorated is actually real.
You absolutely don’t need this if you’re okay with slight imperfections in your cake finish. But if you’re planning on selling your cakes, I would recommend getting this tool and learning how to use it properly.
It’s not a big investment. My favourite one I actually got as a freebie when I ordered some cake decorating tools.
I would recommend these scrapers. They’re plastic like mine, which means easy clean up and they won’t make that skin crawling sound on your turn table as you scrape the side of your cake. Now, speaking of turn tables….
After using a turn table once, you’ll never be able to go back to not having one. This is a total game changer for cake decorating. It allows you to apply frosting in one smooth motion.
No stopping to manually shift your cake on your counter top. What does that mean to you? Smoother, more professional finishes on your cakes.
I love Fat Daddio’s Cake Decorating Turntable. It can accommodate both small and large cakes and has a nice ball-bearing chain that allows for super smooth turning so it won’t stick under the weight of your cakes and mess up your frosting.
Remember, cakes are surprisingly heavy, and you need a turn table that can preform under the weight of a cake, like this one. It’s also really easy to clean by simply wiping it down with a damp cloth. It’s much lighter than metal turn tables, and just as durable.
Rubber spatula (bowl scraper)
This little gem ranks in my top 3 kitchen tools.
Silicone spatulas are a multipurpose kitchen tool due to their incredible versatility. Whether you’re cooking or baking there is nothing else that can scrape the sides of a bowl or pot or whatever vessel you’re using better than one of these.
Go out and get these! Not just one, but many. It will become your most loved kitchen item. And why not when they’re cheap and you can find all sorts of cute ones depending on the holiday that you buy it around.
I, myself have an army of these in my kitchen drawers, but my absolute favourite ones are like this. They’re an all in one design, which means there are no seams so food and batter doesn’t get stuck in nooks and crannies. What does that mean for you? Quicker clean up! Which is always a win.
A sifter might not be the most exciting piece of kitchen equipment, but when it comes to cake making they sure are necessary.
Some recipes require that you sift together your dry ingredients, like flour, baking soda and baking powder. This isn’t an extra step to make your life more difficult as sifting actually aerates these ingredients and gets rid any lumps so your cakes turn out perfectly.
This sifter is super sturdy, durable, and cheap. It’s also easy to clean (and can double as a strainer in a pinch). This is a tool that is not only inexpensive, but crucial to baking.
So we know that cake making is both an art and a science. The decorating part is definitely artistic, while the actual baking part can be quite scientific.
It is important to get your ingredients measured out properly and incorporated in the correct order for you to end up with a well made cake.
A scale is the most accurate way to measure out dry ingredients, but you can use measuring cups too. What I own and love: Anchor Hocking Measuring Cups and Stainless Steel measuring spoons. These are basic kitchen essentials, not just for baking.
The Anchor measuring cups are made from tempered glass that is oven, refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher safe. Why is this great? Because you won’t have to transfer anything from the measuring cup into another bowl (that you will have to wash) in order to warm your ingredients in the microwave. Yay!! Less time cleaning up is a win in my book!
Stainless steel measuring spoons are a wonderful addition to your baking kit because they have measures from 1/8 teaspoon all the way up to a tablespoon. (This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you try to half a recipe and can’t figure out how to accurately measure half of a quarter teaspoon).
But one of my favourite things about these measuring spoons is that they are stainless steel, so they will not rust or break when you toss them into the sink (I’m so guilty of that).
They come attached to a D-ring so you can hang them up if you don’t want to put them in a drawer, and they also have a nifty little leveler for the most accurate measuring.
How can you make a cake if you have nothing to mix the ingredients in? Well, you can’t really… so let’s look at some awesome mixing bowls that can bring a little joy to your baking life.
There are tons of options out there for mixing bowls from pretty colourful plastic to metal to glass. But which one do you need? Are they different? Which one is best for you? The answer really depends on what you like to make.
Metal bowls are obviously going to be the most durable, but you can’t put them in a microwave.
Glass bowls can break if you’re really rough with them but they can be microwaved and frozen and they work really well for a make shift double boiler.
Plastic or melamine bowls are light and come in so many pretty colours, but they can break and also can’t go in the microwave. So what do you do?
I think if you’re now starting out the answer is to get a good metal bowl and a good glass one. These bowls are neat because they have nonskid bottoms which will stop the bowl from walking away as you mix. Believe me, it really does happen!
If you have to buy a cake pan, this is usually a good size to start with. Most recipes will yield enough batter for two 9″ cakes. Even if it calls for an 8″ pan, you can still get away with 9″ pans (the cake will just bake up a little thinner, which if you’re layering cakes, is fine).
My favourite cake pans are from Fat Daddios. These pans are durable and effective. They cook cakes evenly and will never rust, chip, flake or peel. They come in a wide variety of sizes and are guaranteed for life.
Another good option is Rachel Ray’s 10 piece Non Stick Bakeware Set. It’s a good value and you get a nice variety of pans including two 9″ cake pans, a bread pan, brownie pan, cupcake pan, two cookie sheets, a square cake pan AND a roasting pan.
It’s a good value for money, but I have found that over time they do rust and loose their “non stickiness”. Overall, they’re not bad to start out with, but if you want to invest in a pan for life then Fat Daddios is the way to go.
So there we have it! My top 9 must have baking tools for the absolute beginner cake maker. These tools won’t break the bank, but are an excellent place to start if you want to make good cakes.
It can be fun to buy different baking tools when you now start out, and with so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. What you don’t want to do is waste a lot of time and money or products that don’t work well for you.
Buy things that are efficient and make you feel happy. After all, that’s what baking is all about – bringing joy to yourself and those around you.