Sometimes something as simple as buying a new kitchen tool can make a big difference in the outcome of your baked goods. When I first started out I made use of what I already had, but as soon as I started borrowing tools from Gary (who went to culinary school), the process of baking became much smoother and efficient! Here is just a handful of the tools I use almost every time I'm in the kitchen.
1. Bench Scraper: I have a metal one and also a few plastic ones that can conform to a bowl, but by far I reach for my metal bench scraper the most. It's great for doing quick cuts of dough (like bread), cleaning up your cutting board in one fell swoop, or gently folding dough onto itself . Mine also has a ruler on the edge which also comes in handy (though I'd still recommend having a full sized ruler).
2. Rubber Spatulas: Confession: I am a chronic bowl scraper. I find it extremely satisfying and am always slightly disappointed when particular recipes should not be scraped up dry. Not only are different sizes handy but it's important to have separate spatulas for meringue and for everything else due to residual fat and oil.
3. Offset Spatula: Again, I have a variety of metal spatulas both offset and straight, but this little offset is my buddy. It's the most fun tool to use when finishing off my 6 inch cakes and gives me the most control. I also have one that's slightly tapered at the tip, but the one pictured above is my favorite.
4. Mini Whisk: I was really surprised about this one. This is one of those tools I adopted from Gary and from the moment it was in my posession I've used it for everything! A large whisk is often too unwieldy and a fork just doesn't do the job right. I love using my 8" whisk for eggs, fluffing up flour, quickly mixing in liquids, and pretty much whatever else you need a whisk for, except with way more control.
5. Kitchen Scale: If you've ever oogled at european baking cookbooks, get a scale now! I have a simple salter brand scale, but the most important feature is to be able to switch from grams to ounces. I promise your pastries will come out better if you weigh your ingredients rather than relying on volume measurements.
6. Fine Mesh Sieve: This is a great too for sifting dry ingredients together, but I really love using it to strain and make everything smoother, such as purees and curds.
What are you favorite kitchen tools?