It must happen at least 2 or 3 times a month. One of us here in the King Arthur test kitchen will hold up an orphan equipment sample from a vendor and say, “I hate this thing. Is anyone else actually USING it, before I get rid of it?” Never fails but someone else will say, “I LOVE that thing! Put it on MY station!”
Our kitchen has five stations in it, and four regular inhabitants. Each station has its own quirky collection of gadgets, reflecting the personalities of the bakers in each corner.
PJ needs her food processor,
spare light for blog photos,
scissors, flour wand,
grizzled 5-qt KitchenAid mixer,
When stick butter is on sale, I always buy it for PJ; it’s a small luxury that she truly enjoys. Most of the time we use full 1-pound blocks that we get in cases from our bakery supplier.
Sue Gray likes having a stash of glass bowls near her station,
and is particularly partial to this whisk.
Her mixer is a venerable old 7-quart Kenwood,
and her scale is a sophisticated gram scale (seen above, under the whisk), which is critical when working on mix formulas. We both have a stash of decorating and food-styling equipment that we’ve put together for ourselves.
Hers is mostly in this toolbox. For measuring, Sue turned me on to these wok spoons.
They’re perfect for sprinkling dry ingredients into a bowl on a scale, bit by bit.
Andrea uses a lot of metal bowls (she’s often making two or three versions of a formula at once).
She has a 7-quart Viking and a serious gram scale of her own.
When we empty the dishwasher, I give her all of these mixing spoons.
She likes ‘em. I don’t, and for what probably seems like a very picky reason: the bowl is so deep that I get goo stuck in it when I use them.
I’m a little more wooden spoon dependent, myself.
The blue on the handles is from that plastic goo you dip things into; it’s our way of keeping track of whose stations get what toys. We have red, green, and yellow stations, too.
I’m also partial to spurtles. Aside from the fact that it’s a delightful word to say, the flat edge of a wooden spurtle is great for getting to the edge and across the bottom of a saucepan. They also make handy turners in a pinch.
I like having a couple of small whisks on hand (good for Web site how-to photos and whisking dry ingredients together before mixing),
two bowls for my fire-engine red 5-quart Viking mixer,
pastry brushes with real bristles, and this silicone bowl that’s great for measuring dry ingredients into;
I can flex it to pour the flour and leavening into the top of my mixing bowl without having to stop the mixer.
I keep my measuring spoons loose in this old coffee mug, so I can pick out the size I need in a flash. I’ve often told people in classes I teach that an affordable baking extravagance is keeping two sets of measuring spoons, one wet and one dry. Makes life much easier overall.
my favorite pastry blender,
paintbrushes and Q-tips for food styling,
(I spent 10 minutes adjusting a squirt of mustard for a corned beef photo yesterday); modeling tools, the Danish dough whisk
(can’t mix a starter or biga without it), a large-mesh strainer for getting the lumps out of cocoa and confectioners’ sugar,
dental floss (best way to cut cinnamon rolls or any soft, rolled dough),
small and large offset spatulas. love these kids’ spatulas . I find them to be just right for stirring small amounts of chocolate that need to be melted.
My favorite rolling pin hides in plain sight, hanging on my pegboard. It’s stainless steel, and this particular model has oval handles, which I find to be perfectly ergonomic.
It’s our experience that bakers are equipment geeks; I have no doubt you all have “can’t live without” tools of your own; we look forward to hearing about ’em!