*Every recipe in the book starts off with a special note regarding equipment that was used in the creation of the dish for the recipe. Some of the items are needed and some are more convenient, but not necessary. I’ll try to make a note of what was absolutely needed (if it goes beyond what you'd normally have in your kitchen) and what you can make do without since I have limited space and an even more limited budget within which to operate.
Necessities Scale - This for me is the biggest difference between baking as a beginner, and being more serious and intentional about what you’re making. Baking, unlike some aspects of cooking tends to be less forgiving when it comes to accuracy and measurement of ingredients. The difference between a pressed cup of flour vs. a “loose” cup of flour vs. a cup of flour that has simply been leveled off at the top can be drastically different in weight and when you are working with multiple cups of not only flour but other compressible ingredients (especially brown sugar), those inaccuracies are magnified. This can result in a much different texture and can make your bakes less consistent.
Silicone Mats - When baking cookies mainly or other items that go directly on the tray, everyone’s classic go to is always parchment paper. They even sell it in pre-cut sheets that fit in your sheet pan flat so you don’t have to cut or try and keep things flat while you put dough or whatever down on top. I have two issues with this. First, no matter what you’ll have to trim some aspect of them to be optimal. They are never perfect, even in those flattened sheets you can buy, which aren’t a huge deal, but can be annoying. Second and more importantly, they are a consumable waste that if you bake like me, you would be going through rather quickly. Silicone mats for me yield just as good (if not better) of a baking result. There’s a reason they are so widely used and are 1000% worth buying a few of. I’ve reused mine countless times and they are not only easy to use, but extremely simple to clean as well. For me, they’re a baking essential, which may or may not be listed in the recipes.
Silicone Spatulas - These are any chef/baker’s best friend. I have a utensil holder next to my stove with “frequently used items” in it so I can grab things quickly instead of rummaging in the drawers for them and almost half of them are various silicone spatulas of different shapes and sizes. Honestly can never have enough. They’re versatile, easy to use and clean, and are required for almost any recipe of any kind.
Thin Spatula - When I started getting serious into baking I was noticing a need for a spatula that was not only paper thin at the end, but also flexible. Something that could fit between a cookie and a sheet pan without disturbing it, scraping something off the bottom of the cookie, or pressing it together when too warm to lift. This for me was answered on amazon with the Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Flexible Turner (not an ad just in love with this spatula).
Stand Mixer - This may be one of the more controversial “necessary” pieces of equipment. While it may be possible to do all of the recipes without it, emphasis on the may…it is in your best interest not to try. When making macarons for example you need to be boiling sugar while the egg whites are being whipped into a meringue, where you then will have to be measuring the temperature of the syrup to the right level before pouring that syrup slowly and consistently into the bowl while the egg whites are being whipped. Trust me when I tell you, this is a sure-fire way to get yourself burned. They will make your life infinitely easier and for this book, it is assumed that you own one. All of the instructions are laid out to account for their consistent power and movements.
Oven/Handheld Thermometer - One of the simplest mistakes I made when I first started baking was assuming that the oven temperature was what it said when I set it. This is almost never going to be accurate unless you’re in a professional kitchen. Most ovens (including all the ones I’ve used so far) are far cooler than the set temperature. For example, when I want it to be set at 350F, I have to set it to 370-375F. No matter if you are baking for short periods of time or for more than an hour, accurate temperatures are key to coming out with accurate bakes. In addition to this, a handheld thermometer is extremely useful for measuring temperatures of sugars, breads, water etc. throughout any baking recipe that requires precise measurements.
Wire racks - These while they may seem simple, are absolutely a necessity. When baked goods (especially cookies and bread) come out of the oven and you let them cool on the pan they were baked on, the continue to cook. The residual heat from the metal pan keeps baking them until you lift them off to let them cool on a wire rack. That's why as soon as I can I use my thin metal spatula to take the cookies off the pan and place them to cool on the wire rack. This is also important when cooling bread, as the wire rack allows the bottom crust to dry off. If you don't cool bread this way, the bottom will trap steam as it cools, which will destroy the crust that you desperately will want on the bottom! Letting it cool on the wire rack allows a firm, crisp crust to develop on the bottom as the whole loaf cools.
Fine Mesh Strainer - The last thing (so far) I can think of is a fine mesh strainer. These are cheap and easy to use and will ensure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated evenly throughout the mix. I recommend getting a three-strainer set of varied sizes so you can use multiple at the same time if needed.
Molds/Pans - There will be a small number of bakes for this project that will require special pans (Madeleines for example) in order to get the proper/traditional shape. Other than those, the standard tart ring (I'll specify size when needed), muffin tins, baking sheet/trays are going to be required for various bakes.
Offset Spatulas - These are especially important when trying to create even, smooth layers of icing/glaze on top of various desserts. They provide the perfect angle to smooth things out while being able to maintain a good angle looking at your creation.