With my background and experience I hope you trust me enough to really consider upgrading your way of baking and cooking. If you have these kitchen essentials already, way to go and more power to ya!!
1. Digital Scale
Please invest in a good digital scale! I promise that you will thank me later. There are so many advantages or benefits in using a digital scale and you can read up on them here. The top three reasons why I use a scale: (1) accuracy/consistency, (2) less clean-up (3) not just for baking --> great for portion control when cooking.
Most of the recipes that I will be sharing with you are written by weight. Conversion can be done but the end product will not be the same. This is what I currently use and I've had it for nearly 10 years. The brands that I'm familiar with are Salter and Escali. This is the one I used in culinary school and my early business days. It kept falling off the counter or table - yeah, I think it was possessed - and one day it stopped working. RIP great digital scale. If you need more information on which digital scale is best to purchase, then check out this article.
2. Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is a must-have. They come in different sizes, from full-sheet to 6-inch circles. I've learned in school to start with a full-sheet parchment paper and cut it to the baking pan size that I'll be using, even round baking pans - this wise advice from the chefs at school saved me a lot of money and time when I was running my business. I purchase mine at Cash-n-Carry - a box of full-sheet, 1000 count - roughly $35; on sale, it can run you about $26 (Oregon prices). Yeah, the box eats up quite a bit of space on my shelving unit but it lasts me a very long time. In fact, the one I have now is only a quarter used and I can't remember when I bought it. Of course you can search for it and buy it online - such as this and while on their site you can stock up on baking ingredients!
Why use parchment paper?
- non-stick for easy release of food
- used in a cooking technique known as "en papillote"
- pans stay relatively clean so clean-up is 10x easier
- easy transfer of shaped doughs, rolled out doughs
Many more reasons can be found here.
3. Scoops or Portion Control Dishers
In the food industry, portion control products can be found in varying sizes and styles - such as these selection by Vollrath. But these, thumb press type, were what I mainly used in my business long ago. I no longer have them because over time with much use and an occasional fall on the floor or bumping into things or used on hard food products... well, they're now retired.
I recently purchased the Small (~1 tablespoon or 0.5 ounce) and Medium (~2 tablespoons or 1 ounce) Scoop from Pampered Chef. They're heavy-duty stainless steel (squeeze handle type) scoops, right- and left-hand friendly, and dishwasher safe.
Why I love them?
- uniform portions and consistently repeatable
- end product look the same - in size, shape, and weight
- controls food cost, reduces food waste
- extremely versatile tool
- squeeze handle type minimizes hand fatigue
- great for high volume environments
4. Food Processor
I have this... a kitchen workhorse that I heavily relied on in my business days. The last time I used it was a few months ago in which I made corn powder by pulverizing freeze-dried corn. The corn powder is an ingredient in Christina Tosi's Corn Cookies, a recipe that I've featured in my website. But this is a 14-cup food processor, one that is currently hibernating in the cabinet above the refrigerator - you know the one... the one where the forgotten toys reside. It might be time to wake up my beloved food processor to help me make purees, pasta doughs, pesto...
In comes the Manual Food Processor by Pampered Chef.
Other than the highlighted 10 reasons, this manual food processor is a perfect size to roughly chop nuts and chocolate.
5. Cooling racks or Wire racks
Cooling or Wire racks come in different sizes and styles. I own several sizes and two different styles. I have two half-sheet and two quarter-sheet sized wire racks in a single layer style. And two quarter-sheet sized stackable wire racks from Pampered Chef (pictured below).
- allows air circulation to cool baked goods
- prevents baked goods getting soggy from condensation
- tight grid style prevents thin baked goods from breaking or falling through
- use as an insert in a pan to prevent foods from sticking to the pan
- helps in to cook bacon in the oven
You can read up on more uses with recipes... here.