Inspired by pretty pictures of cakes on Instagram, you got the impulse to start baking. For sure, you can do this drip-cake, or this rainbow layers cake, it looks easy enough. And then starts the drama: nothing works! How did it get so wrong?
Baking well starts with having the right baking tools at hand. You can quite manage with a small survival kit in the kitchen, but believe me, everything becomes easier when you have the right tool for the right task!
Below, you’ll find a list of basic baking utensils you need to start baking. Only the essentials - and a few optional if you have the budget.
This baking tools list for beginners was made with one idea in mind: keep it simple, affordable, durable and easy to clean.
Get rid of the measuring cup - it’s the best way to make mistakes! Mass and weight are not the same and baking needs precise measurements. This is the number baking utensil for beginners!
Nowadays, a very good scale does not cost much and is a long term investment.
Just make sure of the requirements: starting at 1g to at least 2kg, preferably in steel, with a tare button. And you’re good to go.
A set of good whips. Or at least one.
No need to explain why you need a baking whisk, even as a beginner. However, choosing a good whisk is not that easy: very often, they are too flexible and not strong enough. How do you know if your baking whisk is strong enough? Push on the strings pretty hard while holding the handle. If the strings bend or separate, it’s just bad quality. That also mean you must avoid plastic ones.
You can find whisks pretty much everywhere nowadays, from supermarkets to 1€ shop.
Bowl-lickers beware your worst nightmare: spatulas! Made to get every last drop of batter from your bowls, they are also pretty darn needed for lifting, flipping, spreading, gently mixing and a ton of other things. The best spatulas have a thin edge that can slip under foods but can also maintain flexibility for maneuvering and strength for lifting. Good spatulas are preferably made of silicone to avoid scratching pans - and also because it’s more hygenic and can be washed easily.
Try your spatulas with the palm of your hand to see how flexible (or not flexible) it is.
A Rolling pin
It seems obvious but based on years of internet browsing (and life experience), some people are trying to save money on rolling pin and use bottles or other similar shaped objects. For me, it’s a no-no: a rolling pin is cheap and made in material safe for your health and an absolutely necessary baking tool, even if you're a beginner. Why jeopardize your great cake with unhealthy makeup baking tools?
I would also recommend to avoid wood, as wood can never be cleaned. It’s a perfect place for bacterias to grow and duplicate. No one wants that. So stick with steel. It’s the same price, and it lasts way longer. Plus it can be washed in the dishwasher.
What about a rolling pin with handles? You get better results without handles, as I find it easier to balance the weight over the dough. However, if you tend to have pain in your hands/arms, a rolling pin with handles will be better for you, as it requires less strength.
The rolling pin I recommend to everyone - and I mean everyone - is the Philonext Edelstahl Teig-Roller-Nudelholz.
Various versatile & quality molds
You cannot bake without molds. Nowadays, they come in all shapes and material - there is something for everyone.
Now, to start baking, I advise you to get a set of good and versatile molds, with basic shapes. Later on, based upon your requirements, keep on adding.
a loaf tin (my recommendation)
a spring form pan, with a quick release system (my recommendation)
a pie mold, preferably with a removable bottom (my recommendation)
Beware silicone molds: they are very fashionable and all over instagram with their incredible shapes. But for me, this is the best way to make mistakes when you start. You need a good level of baking skills to manipulate a silicone mold. As a beginner in baking, you are not there - yet. I advise you to get a set of good old non-adhesive molds.
I tend to avoid products from the brands Kaiser, Zenker and Dr. Oetker, even though they are well spread in Germany. Despite advertising their non-adhesive material, they are sticky after a few use - and they are also not durable at all. I prefer the brands Master Class and De Buyer, more expensive, but way way more durable. Molds made of glass are also a great alternative, but difficult to handle for beginners, as getting the cake out is often tricky.
Whisking eggs or cream by hands requires training and a lot of patience - none of which you have when you begin baking. Nothing is more frustrating than the long process of manually whisking white eggs and never ever getting them stiff enough.
Save yourself times and cramps, and buy a hand-mixer.
If you are short on budget, a 10€ one at Saturn or Media-Markt will do.
Make sure to not throw away the weird whisks: they actually have a purpose and you'll be happy to have them once you up your game in baking.
A set of mixing bowls
I won't tell you why you need mixing bowls: it's obvious. Stainless mixing bowls are the best value for money you can find and they will last forever.
If the design is important for you, get glass and/or ceramic mixing bowls. They are more pricey but come in all shapes & colors. They are easily cleaned, heat resistant and they double as serving bowls.
Like most of the utensils, even for a beginner: avoid plastic. Plastic mixing bowls are attractive when it comes to price and design but they aren't heat resistant enough and absorb oil and odors. Nobody likes the taste of garlic in a chocolate cake.
And then, there is copper mixing bowls. Expensive, durable and very very beautiful. Not a must but if you have the money, why not?
Whatever the material you choose, get a set of at least two for a start.
A cooling rack
I thought a lot about adding or not this baking tool to the list of basic utensils for beginners, but thinking of it, a lot of my mistakes as a beginner baker happened during the cooling down process: cookies loosing their crisp, genoise getting soggy etc. This is frustrating and can be fixed easily with a cooling rack.
Before you make a decision of buying it, check your kitchen to see if you have an alternative already available - for instance, an oven grid that you don't use. If you don’t have one, don’t skip buying this. This one for a start is enough.
Optional: a silicone baking mat
Baking involves a lot of baking paper. It's not good for the wallet and even less for the environment. I replaced parchment paper by a silicon mat a while ago and haven't looked back since then. I recommend one, even for beginners.
Make sure the model you choose respects standard of food safety (free of PFOA and BPA, FDA approved). Avoid at all cost buying one on wish, aliexpress or similar, as they usually don't respect those standards. Don't compromise your health for a few bucks or continue using baking paper if this is better for your current budget.
Optional: a very good baking tray
A very good multi-purpose baking tray makes all the difference. When it comes to the actual baking part of baking, you need a tray that will conducted the heat well, will not be sticky (say bye bye to waste and waste of baking paper) and can last long. For me, there is only one brand: DeBuyer. There have the versatile one, ready for all type of baking, and the perforated one, great for pies, biscuits and cookies.
Now that you get all the baking tools in hand, ready, set, go, bake!