Kitchen toys

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.

There are some things we all use: Everbake, aluminum half-sheet pans, parchment paper, scissors,


Thermapen thermometers, dough scrapers , cookie and muffin scoops, bench knives,


nylon spreaders for scraping mixing bowls, these little egg whisks, one or two bread machines for each person.


PJ needs her food processor,


spare light for blog photos,


scissors, flour wand,


grizzled 5-qt KitchenAid mixer,


and groovy new scrapes-the-bowl-for-you paddle,

Wondercup, ceramic knife,


giant spatula, stretch tite,


agatized wood bowls,


and her timer on a string. PJ and I both have this Salter scale on our stations.


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.

Some of my other must haves? Disposable pastry bags,

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!

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Sara Avrams

    I love the kitchenaid paddle that scrapes the bowl while mixing! I want one BADLY. I have to figure out what model I have first.

    My favorite gadget is an old Tupperware orange peeler. It is yellow and looks like a toothbush without the head. I love the thing and would be lost without it!

  2. shaw a

    I have old brass rolling pin like your stainless steel and on one it has small cap for like water or something. I was wondering if u might be able to tell me some about.

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Your brass pin may have been designed to put water in and then chilled, to keep pastry cold while rolling it, and to give it added weight to help with some of the work. Susan

  3. Beth

    How about posting a summary of all the suggestions made about the most useful kitchen tools. It would be really useful!

    Comments from other customer/bakers are included each equipment/tool item on our website. We’ll forward your suggestion to our customer observations for consideration. Thanks! Irene @ KAF

  4. Ronnie

    One of my favorite tools is my set of measuring spoons that have an oval bowl on one end and a round bowl on the other end and they are held together by small magnets in the plastic handles. I enjoy reading all the blogs and the handy hints given on them. Thanks.

  5. Carolyn

    I try to keep redundant tools out of my kitchen (though a second set of measuring cups is on my list!). My favorite baking tool is my bench knife, which makes my constant bread baking easier and cleaner. No more scrubbing dough bits off the counter with brillo pads! What I really need, though, is a set of four or so loaf pans that are the SAME size. I currently own a great nonstick 9×5″, a pyrex one that is slightly smaller, and a 1 1/2 lb pan that is too big for anything.

    My mom always tells me that cooking/baking is similar to home repair in that when you don’t have the right tool it makes your project much more difficult to complete. So I guess I just need a garage for my kitchen tools.

  6. benita

    I life in an apartment and have a very small kitchen and no counter top space. I have noticed that in all your blogs you are using a kitchenaid stand mixer. Is there some brand of hand held mixer that you would recommend?
    Hi, Benita. I learned to bake using a hand-held mixer in my mother’s kitchen, and I know a lot of other people started out this way. We’ve tested and like this mixer from Cuisinart. Susan

  7. kate chagoll

    REALIZATION: I need measuring spoons for both wet AND dry ingred.??
    I have several measuring spoons…please, a recommendation!! I love to bake, so this is unnerving to say the least! Thanks in advance, Kate
    Kate: All I meant by saying that is it’s a great convenience not to have to dry off the spoon you used to measure vanilla before measuring the salt or baking powder. The measuring spoons themselves are identical; it’s just nice to have one set for juicy things and one set for powdery things. Susan

  8. Jamia

    Thank you for sharing all your lovely kitchen toys with us! I can’t post pictures of all my favorite utensils, but I like my mixing bowl, my measuring cups, my salad servers, among many other…

    A few years ago, when I traveled through the holy land on vacation, I found a little shop selling lovely olive wood serving spoons. Oh, here’s what I’m talking about:

    Anywho, thanks for sharing this post with us!

  9. Brenda

    Another person with an ever-expanding “toy collection”. Let’s see, my dough whisks, old cookie sheets with a raised edge on one short end to use as peel and giant spatula, assorted utensils of silicone, olive wood, & bamboo, cookie/muffin scoops, Thermapen, enameled cast-aluminum citrus squeezer, KA mixer, parchment, plastic wrap, multiple sets of measuring cups & spoons including odd sizes. In answer to Armida, onion goggles do work, but only use them when I have a “ton” of onions to cut up since I have to take my glasses off to use them. The scraper paddle for my mixer, and the s-hook I bought works so much better than the c-hook that came with it, scales, microplane graters, flour wand…


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