Friday, 4 October 2013

Baking 101: Tools of the Trade

I've decided to do a miniseries called Baking 101 after receiving a lot of request from readers and friends alike on tutorials on how to bake.  To be honest I'm not a mega baker myself but I can whip up a mean chocolate cake before you can say shake n bake.

Baking is fun but it's also kinda serious as it's a craft on it's own.  There are principles and rules to it and too little or too much of an ingredient can leave you with a flat hard cake or inedible cookies.  I've had incidents in the past where I had to thrash whole batches of muffins and I've been known to fall into mini depressions when a cake refused to rise or just sank in the middle. I must say there a quite a lot of tricks and techniques to baking that it might seem daunting to a beginner but we're not going to concern ourselves with the science behind it yet, today we'll deal with the tools of the trade.

Basic Starter Kit from clockwise: measuring spoons, wooden rolling pin, whisk, spatula, cookie cutters, measuring cups, measuring jug, digital scale

It's a good idea to have two bowls and other different sized ones for mixing and measuring out ingredients.  Personally I like to measure out all my ingredients and put them in different small bowls before baking to save me the hassle of measuring out stuff in the middle of mixing.

Whisks, Spoons & Spatula
Whisks are used for aerating cake batters and eggs. I suppose one can use a fork to aerate (beat) eggs but using a whisk is more proper IMHO.  A spatula (I prefer silicone ones) is used for scraping out corners, smoothing batter (cake mixture) surfaces etc. Large wooden spoons can be used to beat batter and a large metal spoon is ideal for folding (folding is a technique used in mixing ingredients instead of using a handheld mixer, it helps keep air in the cake batter).

Measuring Spoons, Cups and Jugs
Its very important that you stick to precise measurements as specified in any recipe you decide to follow.  A measuring jug is ideal for ,measuring out liquid a measuring cup for dry ingredients. Spoons are great for measuring out smaller amounts of ingredients. Most spoons measuring spoons come in a nesting set. In a recipe 1 tsp means 1 teaspoon and 1 tbsp means one tablespoon. FYI, the measuring cup isn't the same as your teacup or coffee mug o!

Having a scale is also very important.  No on can know how much 200g (200grams) of flour is just by guessing.  I prefer digital scales.

Electric Mixer
Nothing saves you effort and time than an electric mixer. It can be a handheld one or a standing one.  Trust me mixing ingredients by hand to make a cake batter isn't fun, matter of fact it might put you off the whole baking thing as it is hard work (unless you're folding in ingredients as stated by the recipe).

Rolling Pin

Used for rolling out dough/pastry (can also be used as a weapon).

Cookie Cutters

Cookie cutters come in a variety of fun shapes and sizes.  You can buy a set with different fun shapes

I can't begin to explain how important it is to aerate your dry ingredients like flour, sugar, baking soda etc before adding to your mixture.  Personally I sieve my flour twice before throwing it into the mix to avoid lumps and clumps. A stainless steel one with a long handle and a hook at the opposite end would do just fine.

Baking Tins

Sponge tins are usually quite shallow since they are designed to be used together to bake two sponges that will be sandwiched together.  To bake an all-in-one-cake (like a fruit cake) you will need a deeper cake tin, a SpringForm one is a good idea becasue the outer ring springs off when you need to take the cake out.  For cupcake tins, its advisable to buy more than one because every recipe make at least 12 and you'll find it a real nuisance to be emptying and refilling the tin to bake a fresh set when you can easily pop two tins of 24 cupcakes in the oven at the same time! A loaf tin is important as you may want to bake loaf cakes (like walnut and apple).  To show off your newly acquired baking skills wow everyone by baking with a bundt tin (check out picture below) for ring-like cakes. Bakeware come in metal and silicone, they also come in fun shapes and sizes.

Baking Tins and Silicone from top in a clockwise direction: sponge tin, silicone Bundt mould, Loaf tin. springform tin

Like most things in life, it's always best to buy items that are of the best quality but if you can't afford high end bakeware, don't despair...Rome wasn't built in a day.  There are countless places you can get recipes (from books, blogs and baking tv programmes). it's always daunting and scary at the beginning but with practice (and a whole lot of mistakes) you'll come out a better baker and who knows you might go pro!

Handheld Mixer

Do you bake already?  Do you have a recipe (or recipes) you'd like to share? Got pictures? if yes please send them via email to so I can feature your recipes.  There's love in sharing o!

cupcake tin

Thanks for stopping by, watch this space for the next instalment of Baking 101>

Don't forget to read, comment, follow and BAKE!!!!



  1. I used to bake with my mum while growing up but since after graduating from the university i have not tried baking at all, but reading this has inspired me so much and have my juices flowing......this Christmas i am going to bake me some cakes and home made bread.

  2. Thank you thank you!! I'm looking to take baking as a hobby. I have baked just once in my life, it was a horror movie...a complete disaster. Crusts of sugar dried on top of the cake. Imagine eating cake and having sugar crusts on top....*covers face* Thanks alot for this post. Don't stop posting o. I'm bookmarking the page now!!!!!


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