Must-have bakeware for the kitchen
2 Copper bowls Egg whites rise better when beaten in copper. This leaves two choices--a copper bowl designed for beating by hand (make sure you buy a big one so there’s plenty of room to whisk) or a copper insert for your stand mixer. Be sure to clean the copper thoroughly with salt and vinegar before you use it each time. Make sure there is no trace of fat adhering to the bowl.
3 Food processor A food processor is indispensable for grinding nuts and for pureeing solid mixtures. It is also useful for making most dough.
4 Molds and ramekins Baking molds and ramekins are used for tarts and tartlets, babas and savarins, brioche, madeleines, custards, soufflés, and more. For tarts, cookies, and cakes, non-stick or silicone molds are best. If you’re stuck with traditional molds--especially if you are making madeleines or financiers, which love to stick--butter the molds, refrigerate them, butter them again, and then flour them.
5 Parchment paper Almost indispensable in baking, parchment paper is now available at most supermarkets. If you can’t find it, substitute waxed paper (which will leave traces of harmless wax on foods), but not aluminum foil, which will leave specks of metal and may tear.
6 Pastry bags and tips Buy large pastry bags so you can pipe plenty of mixture, such as the batter for a large cake. Buy an assortment of pastry bag tips, both fluted and plain.
7 Pastry scrapers and bench scrapers Bench scrapers (also called pastry scrapers and dough cutters) are typically metal, though some are made of plastic. They are versatile tools that can be used to scrape together ingredients on a work surface, transfer ingredients from work surface to a bowl or pan, and cut dough without wrecking its structure, among other things. Some plastic pastry scrapers have one straight and one rounded edge. This allows you to use them on both the work surface and inside bowls for folding mixtures.
8 Pastry cutters These old fashioned gadgets--essentially a series of stiff wires attached to a handle--are handy for cutting cubes of cold butter into flour when you’re working in a bowl. When working directly on the work surface, use a pastry scraper. When you are mixing dough in a stand mixer or food processor, the machine does the work.
9 Pie and tart pans While pie and tart pans come in innumerable sizes, the most common pie pan, and the one used in this book, is 11 inches in diameter from top edge to top edge, leaving about 9 inches of diameter in the middle. Tart pans are harder to standardize. Assume a recipe uses a 9-inch tart pan, unless otherwise specified--this book is filled with tarts made in irregular sizes. A less expensive alternative to a tart pan is a tart ring, which is simply a metal ring that you set on a sheet pan. The sheet pan provides the base for the tart.
10 Rolling pins If you have a single rolling pin in your kitchen, make it a large wooden pin. I use the traditional French type of pin, which is a large cylinder with no handles. If you feel comfortable with them, rolling pins with handles work well, too. Avoid the Italian pins, which taper at the ends.
11 Rubber spatulas These are indispensable for folding mixtures, cleaning out bowls and pans, and transferring small amounts of mixtures. While traditionally made of rubber, flexible spatulas nowadays are made of silicone, which lasts longer and won’t burn.
12 Stand mixer Perhaps the most useful item in the baker’s kitchen, a stand mixer is great for making pastries, combining all manner of mixtures, beating egg whites, and kneading bread dough. Some stand mixers will even accommodate a copper bowl insert, which is handy for beating egg whites. Most stand mixers come with three attachments: a dough hook, a paddle blade, and a whisk. Each of these is designed with a different stiffness in mind for whatever’s being combined.
If you plan on making a lot of bread, you may want to buy a heavy-duty, professional grade stand mixer; otherwise a stand mixer designed for the home kitchen is sufficient.
Image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.
Excerpted from Baking by James Peterson Copyright © 2009 by James Peterson. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.