Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Baking Gadgets And Paraphernalia - Must-haves and nice-to-haves!


Home-baking in India not being all that common, until very recently most of us associated it with bakeries or commercially packaged bakes. Few of us have seen our mothers baking, thankfully blogs and the internet provide more than enough inputs for us in this area. Stores which sell a plethora of baking stuff online can confuse a new baker as to what's really essential and useful and what is nice to have but not essential. If you have just stepped into the amazing world of baking and specially if you live in India, this post may be of help. Most of the images below are the from the WWW.

Oven: First and the most important, a good oven. You could use a box-type oven toaster griller (OTG) or a convection microwave for home-baking. Microwaves come in basic models which can be used only for cooking and heating, models with a microwave and grill mode only (no convection) and models with grill, convection and microwave modes. The last one mentioned is the one you will need for baking.

I use a small Morphy Richards OTG and a LG convection (30 liters) microwave both, I find them very good quality wise. If you have the space, go in for an oven with at least 30 liters capacity. I plan to get myself a 45 liter OTG soon. If buying a microwave for baking needs, do check the setting of the temperature in the convection mode as some microwaves set with a difference of 20 degrees, example 160, 180, 200, 220 and so on.

Mine sets with a difference of 10 degrees as in 180, 190, 200 which I think is much better. I would prefer the setting to be digital rather than analog for more precision. I find the baking more or less the same in both the gadgets, but one distinct advantage of the microwave is the quick-pre-heat in under 5 minutes as compared to the 20 minutes in an OTG. Of course, you would also need to consider the after-sales services while choosing a brand.


Nice to have : A built in gas oven, have never used it though!!




Baking tins: To start with, good quality heavy duty aluminum pans - 8'' and 9'' square and 8'' and 9'' round tins should suffice. These can be used for baking brownies, cakes and cookies. Spring-form tins, i.e, tins, with removable bottom and sides which come with a metal clasp are useful for baking sponge cakes and other delicate cakes, setting cheesecakes, baking tortes etc. Bundt pans help in baking cakes in a decorative shape, but we do not get a great variety here.

Get muffin trays which fit in your oven. Muffin liners too. You can get these at IBCA, GA, Adams, Jamals apart from most departmental stores. Do measure the tins before you buy! If you buy dark colored ones, you will need to bake at a temperature 10 degrees C lower than what's given in the recipe.  Nice to have : Mini bundt cake tray, mini muffin pan, mini tart pan, donut pan.



A tube pan is a pan with a removable bottom and a tube in the center) is a must for baking chiffon cakes and angel food cakes. Do not buy a non-stick tube pan as chiffon cakes are inverted and cooled and the cake needs to stick to the pan as it cools.  But again, these are not available here, so import!

Loaf tins: A 9'' x 5'' X 3'' pan and a 8'' x 4'' X  2 1/2'' pan are useful for baking yeast breads and quick breads, tea loaves and pound cakes. Nice to have : Mini loaf pans, Pullman loaf pan, Dutch oven.

Pizza pans, cookie sheets and sheet pans: You could use your cake tins or the round tin which comes with your microwave for baking pizza. Ditto for baking cookies. You could also use cookie sheets provided you get them in the size suited to your oven. Nice, but not really necessary. Sheet pans for baking Swiss rolls.

 And yes, you can use aluminum pans both in the OTG and in the convection mode of microwave for baking.

Cookie cutters : In my opinion, metal ones are better than plastic as they cut better, with the firm sharp edges.


Pie tins : A 10 '' pie tin (with a removable bottom) and a 12'' one if you can find it. You could also use mini pie pans.

Ramekins : These pretty decorative, bake and serve things come in a range of colors and sometimes with lids too. Go for 1/2 cup (120 ml) capacity ones and smaller ones too if you wish. Perfect  for baking choco-lava cakes  and baked custards.Check at Westside, Lifestyle, Adams and Arihanth Plaza near Commercial Street.

Baking parchment : This is useful to line your cake tins for a really easy and neat release of your bakes. This is not the same as wax paper or butter paper we get in most shops, please do not use it as the wax melts sometimes transferring it on to your cake, which is not desirable. You can get this at IBCA and GA.


Standard measuring cups and spoons : These set of cups and spoons are meant for baking. The volume of 1 cup is 240 ml. The cups come in 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup measures. Spoons come in 1 tablespoon, 1/2 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon measures. We do not get a set with 1/4 teaspoon measure, though I wish we could.


 Liquid measuring cup:  Used for measuring liquids.


 Weighing scales: Accurate measurements being very important for baking, this is a great tool to invest in. I prefer weighing ingredients to measuring them with cups or spoons - for greater accuracy and speed too. Again a digital one is really helpful and good, avoid analog scales. I use scales of a brand called Belita. Stores to check : GA, IBCA, Adams, Jamals. Some online stores in India too sell these, though I have not purchased.

Spatulas: Good silicon spatulas are very helpful for folding in flour into the batter, scraping every bit of  batter from the mixing bowl. Be sure you do not buy rubber spatulas as it gives off that awful rubbery smell and somehow, not a very comfortable thought for me to use one for cooking and baking. Most of the stores here sell rubber spatulas. The silicon part works great when its not too stiff neither too soft and too flexible.


Whisk
: A wire whisk (often called as an egg beater here) is very helpful for whisking liquids, eggs and sometimes for simple recipes which do not need a lot of beating of eggs etc. Even if you have a hand mixer, this is something you must have. Again we also get the spiral kind of egg beaters which I do not prefer to use. A very large balloon whisk (imagine a giant version of the above whisk) is supposed to be great for folding in flour in chiffon cakes and other foam cakes where its important to mix flour without losing volume of whipped eggs. Nope, we don't get this here either!



Hand Mixer : Not to be confused with an immersion blender, a good hand mixer makes whipping eggs, egg whites and cream a breeze. You can't achieve the same volume of eggs, whites or cream with a wire whisk or immersion blender. My Morphy Richards 300 watt hand mixer is indispensable to me. Some brands like Black & Decker come with a bowl and a stand for hands free operation. Its more expensive, but definitely worth checking out! 

Stand alone mixer - This is the cool tool we see on Master Chef and Nigella Lawson's show. Even better whipping, more volume to eggs and yes, better bakes too! Also used for kneading bread dough. Expensive, heavy and space occupying (yeah, the classic case of sour grapes!) this is suitable for baking in large quantities, parties, entertaining or even the kids' birthday or class party. One gadget I hope to own one someday!

Cooling rack: A metal rack with meshy open spaces to deposit your hot cake or bread tin on, cool your cookies and other bakes. Air circulation from the underside helps in even cooling of all the layers of the bakes. Your grill rack can be your make-do cooling rack if you don't have one.


Instant read thermometer: My indispensable tool for baking breads. The temperature of the bread (irrespective of the color) is an indication of whether its fully baked. Make a loaf as rolls or vice -versa, and hey how about a chocolate bread?

Bench scraper : To scrape sticky bread, pizza or puff pastry dough from the kitchen counter. A giant version is supposed to be best for lifting rolled puff pastry dough and the kind.

Cake tester : You could use a toothpick of course to test the done-ness, but taller cakes (say a chiffon cake or 10 cup bundt) and your small tooth-pick may decide to get greedy and disappear into the cake! Use thin wooden skewers (meant for grilling purposes). Even better, a thin metal one, someone coming down from the US? I got these wooden ones from Adams, Shivajinagar, but do check out other stores too, ask for wooden grilling sticks.

Slotted skimmer : The kind of thing used for deep-frying, but a largish one. For folding in flour in a lot of whipped egg with minimum air loss. I loved the result when I baked this chiffon cake!

 Zester :  For zesting oranges, lemon or lime, finely grated chocolate. I use a Microplane zester, great zest in seconds with minimal effort. Again, am not sure if we get this here. Check at Shoppers Stop, Home Stop, Lifestyle.

Serrated knife: Useful for slicing bread, cutting layers of cakes.  Get a good quality, long one.

 
Cookie scoops : Similar to an ice-cream scoop, this helps scoop out cookie batter / muffin batter evenly for even sized cookies / muffins without getting your hands messy. Available in different sizes.



Pastry cutter / blender : Helpful to mix pie / cookie dough kinds where chilled butter needs to be cut into the flour.

Silpat : Something you can roll cookie dough on, cut on the same thing, put in the oven too! Very thin crackers , cut out cookies will be much easier. Again buy according to the size of your oven..


Cake Carrier : Refrigerate your decorated cake neatly or carry the finished cake to a party intact. Get ones with high domes and tight clasps.


Silicon Brushes : These are easy to wash and clean, dry easily and do not clump. No unappealing bristles on your bakes as in the regular brushes. Use them for egg washing your bakes, brushing cakes with simple syrup, brushing breads with melted butter.

Bread machine:  Aaah! The wonder gadget which I just can't wait to get! Mixes, kneads and bakes your bread with no effort, home-made bread made so very easy! The ones available here are quite expensive I find, so I hope to get mine in sometime from the US. You can expect to hear me gloat about it no end ;)

Blow torch :  The cool tool  helpful for making creme brulee and other things.

For details and map to locate the stores mentioned above, check  this post 

For beginners :  The above mentioned are a few tools and gadgets, some you will need when you get started and some later on as you bake.

To get started, the below will suffice.


Oven
Baking tins - 8 and 9'' round and square tins
Muffin trays and liners
Cookie cutters ( 2 sizes in round ones, one heart shaped)
Standard measuring cups and spoons (2 sets)
Liquid measuring cup
Silicon brush (2)
Silicon spatulas (2 at least)
Wire whisk ( get 2, great for cooking too)
A hand mixer
Digital Kitchen scales
Baking parchment
Cookie scoops (2-3 sizes)
A good zester
Wooden skewers and toothpicks
A sieve - if you don't have one
A sturdy ruler with the inch and centimeters numbered
A calculator
Mixing bowls - Any in your kitchen will work!

A visit to a baking supplies store or an online one makes me feel like a kid in a toy store! The variety of tools and gadgets is mind boggling. The little list above is enough for now. Build on this as you go, the others I have mentioned are just for you to know and dream about - you will be using them soon!
Did someone say I am being irregular with posts here? Did this read like I am over-doing the making up for delayed posts? Pardon me!!

45 comments:

Ansh said...

Nice consolidated info. I agree with most.. except bread machine.. but thats just me.. I want to knead the dowgh, shape the loaf and do all the messy stuff :d

Nisha said...

- I use the huge oven with 2 racks, below the stovetop in the kitchens here. I can't imagine how time-consuming it must be to use the smaller OTGs for making larger quantities of something.
- Excited about baking but without prior knowledge, I ended up buying all darker colored nonstick pans & trays instead of aluminum ones.
- Like you mentioned about using cake tins for pizza - not wanting to spend on the pan for baking pizza, I make rectangle-shaped pizzas on my cookie sheet.
- Have been looking out for cooling racks and deals, it never once striked my mind that I could use the grill racks from oven itself. There, you save me $10 :D
Thanks for sharing this very informative post, Suma, totally makes up for the irregular posts! :)

CJ said...

hi Suma...thanx a lot for this informative post.....it seems a visit to blr wud get me all the baking equipmts i require, since i dont get any in coimbatore except for the basic ones like the oven, tins,brushes etc...do we also get the spatula for cake decoration...kindly tell me one shop where we cud get all the necessary baking equipments coz roaming around in blr is quite difficult for a new person...

Arch said...

That's really a very informative post ! I can't wait to come to Bangalore (in two weeks, yaay) and go shopping in all these places...Do you personally find that bread bakes better in an OTG as compared to a convection microwave ? Is the crust more brown in an OTG ? I've been contemplating buying an oven, but not sure if it makes that much of a difference...Do let me know please...

Anonymous said...

Very useful and helpful post, dear.

Cuisine Delights
My Monthly Event - Spotlight : "Lunchbox Ideas".

Sum said...

Very very useful post, Suma! All stuff compiled very well :)

PJ said...

Informative post Suma. Need to buy some things that are mentioned here. Am looking out for them over here... Thanks for posting such useful stuffs :)

notyet100 said...

Thanks very informative, I am mailing the link t my sister too,..:)

Anonymous said...

The post was very informative...But are u so sure that one can use Aluminum pans can be used in MW Convection mode???...Then I wud b so happy

Suma Rowjee said...

Hi CJ! You could try IBCA or General Foods.
Arch - Great to know you are coming down to B'lore! Yes, sometimes, the crust is better in an OTG.
Anonymous - ABSOLUTELY!!! :)

Sayantani said...

I want to try so many from your list. but the first would be baking parchment. when i asked for this in Kolkata the eyes went blank. forgot to bring some from Bangkok and just kicking myself now for not having that. and oh yes so want a stand mixer and a cooking range.

Anonymous said...

very useful - thanks! just a couple of questions
1. do you know where one can get nutritional yeast in bangalore? if not what can it be substituted with? have come across a couple of recipes recently that require it.
2. are the cake carriers/cookie scoops also available at the same stores that you mention?
3. i happen to have a spoon measuring set with 1/4 tsp! its really old - aluminum one generously handed over by my parents.

thank you again

Archana said...

This is a very informative post. I can see I do not have most of the things you have mentioned but I am very interested in the silpat. Can you tell me abt the kinds as on googling I find one called jelly roll liner and non stick baking mat. What are their uses?
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Very informative post...just a small question...I use my microwave for all my baking needs, but have never managed to learn how to pre-heat it (mine has microwave/convection/grill options). Can you please please give me a step-by-step instruction on how to do it..? Thanks a ton...Reema

Priya Shinde said...

Hey suma - this is a great post - something I've been meaning to make a list of. I struggle to find Baking parchment in Bangalore - now will try your recommendations : D the only thing I think u missed out on in your list is a good sieve /sifter.

Will try some of your recipes as soon as I go off my diet n let u know hey went!

Kanchan said...

what a lovely informative post. Totally bookmarked. All of your such posts for beginners are very helpful.

Deeps @ Naughty Curry said...

just the info i was looking for, thanks! been hunting for ramekins all over hyderabad without success... next time im in blore heading over to arihant :) stand-mixer & bread machine are on my to-own list too, its just so darn expensive here in india i wonder if its worth the investment

Champa said...

You want half of my stash of baking pans and gadgets? You can have them if you have space to put them in your house. Only thing is you need someone to carry it for you from here.

Tummy Delites said...

Indeed.. A very helpful and informative post for all baking lovers....

neha said...

thank you for this very informative post,i m relatively new to baking....so i have a querry

in case of excess cake batter can i bake in two tins using the metal racks in my convection microwave.....one above the another as in OTG??pliz help me on this...

Suma Rowjee said...

@Reema - To pre-heat, switch on the main switch, place the low rack on the turntable, press 'convection'. By default the temperature will be set and displayed as 180 degrees C. Press the 'increase' or 'decrease' buttons as needed to arrive at the temperature you need to set. Then press' start'. The microwave will begin to pre-heat(it will light up and the turntable will rotate). Your microwave will sound a beep when its done pre-heating. You can then place your cake/bread tin and set the time. Hope this helps!

Suma Rowjee said...

Anonymous - Sorry no idea about the nutritional yeast! Cookie scoops and cake carriers - check Jamals. Lucky you to get those spoons!
Archana - Same thing!:)
Neha - Nope, you can't bake on both the racks! :(

neha said...

thank you for ur reply....

Poornima said...

Hi Neha,
If u have excess batter try using ur old pressure cooker....u heard it right....I always do this method....n the cake comes out super I prefer this to my microwave n ORG as well...the method is as follows-
Place an aluminum ring inside ur cooker(aluminum cooker not the steel one)and cover with a plate n place a heavy object over it n turn on the gas...Do Not add water as u wanna bake the cake not steam it, so its gonna be dry....once u feel the heat around ur cooker it indicates ur pre heat s done then open the lid n place ur cake tin n cover as said earlier.....bake on high for 2moro then lower to Sim n continue to bake for 20 min to 30min or till done....
Many try covering the cooker using its kid without the whistle but I've not tried tat though....
Try this cooker method n I'm sure u ll love the cake.....the doesn't get tat huge bump as well hence no need to struggle much with,leveling if u plan,to frost it.....:-)
BUT Remember one thing once u use cooker for baking purpose do not use them for cooking....
Happy baking..
And thanks Suma for the wonderful informative post...planning to visit ibca this May when il be in Bangalore...
Poornima

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detailed list, very useful. You said you are going to a bigger one. I am also planning to upgrade mine. I do lots of baking and am looking for around 40L oven. Do you know which models are good in 40-45 L range in India and approx price also. Thanks a ton.

rgds
RA

Suma Rowjee said...

@RA - I like Morphy Richards and I guess it now costs between 8-10k..

vinila said...

where do you get removable bottom cake tins in blore?

Suma Rowjee said...

@Vinila - Try GA and IBCA.

Anonymous said...

hello mam, i have a very basic questions regarding baking which i hope you will give reply to me. i want to know on which rack of your oven you bake your cakes, buns pizzas breads and cookies , with both the element of oven switch on or only bottom rod on for baking?
thanks

Anonymous said...

this a great information reg baking equipments...i wanted to buy a complete set but it's too hard/difficult to find a shop where to buy them!is there an online shops for these items!it wud be helpful!

thanks!

Anonymous said...

Are you using a Morph Richards 40L otg? I am planning to buy one. Is it good? right now I use a 28L Sunflame with a fan instead of a rotissier.

sanumom said...

Hello,
Thank you for sharing such detailed information on baking and OTG. Can you please post the dimensions of your OTG - inner capacity - L x W x D ? It is a 30 Lit capacity right? I am trying to decide what capacity to buy but need to know whether a cookie baking sheet of 45cm L x 30 cm W will fit in. Your help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Sonu Nilam said...

Great stuff here. I've been using Microwave Oven from Morphy Richards just like the one your post but bit different and recently bought an OTG.
I've most of these equipments in my kitchen except for Cookie scoops, Zester and Cake Carrier. Can you suggest me many good place or store to buy these.

Margaret said...

If you buy a bread machine in the US, or any other appliance with a motor, make sure it says "50/60 Hz" or the motor may not last long in India. You can use a transformer to change the US voltage of 120 V to 240 V, but if it is rated only at the US frequency of 60 Hz, when you use it in India with 50 Hz the motor will run slower and draw more current, so it will burn out from the higher current.

Sudh Elan said...

Hi,

Thanks you for such excellant details. These are very useful.

Could you pls let me know where can I buy cake carriers in Bangalore?

Thanks,
Sudha

Suma Rowjee said...

@Margaret - Thanks so much for the very helpful info!
@ Sudh - Check at Jamals and maybe some online stores?

Savitha said...

This is a very useful post. I've never baked anything but want to start and found your blog which is very good! I've a convection oven but have baking dishes or tins yet. I've been looking at different ones to buy and came across silicone cake moulds a lot. Are these not good enough for beginners? Can they be used in a convection oven? Thanks.

Savitha said...

Hello, this a wonderful blog. I've never baked a thing in life but have now bought a convection oven and really want to try my hand with baking. I've bought no baking dishes or tins. I've been looking up online for these and came across silicone moulds a lot. Are these good enough for beginners? Can they be used in convection ovens? I live in Chennai so any pointers on where I can buy these paraphernalia will be very helpful. Thanks!

Suma Rowjee said...

Thank you Savitha! I personally don't like using silicone as I don't like the way things bake in it. Do get in touch with Divya Kudua of Easycooking http://www.divyascookbook.com/, she is in Chennai and can help.

Rose Mary V said...

Suma
can you please mention the hand mixer model that you're using. Thank you

Suma Rowjee said...

Hi Rose! I use Morphy Richards 300 watt hand mixer. Not sure if there are different models of this.

Preeti Madhu said...

Oh i love you!!!i am a beginner and mad about baking and decorating cakes,i was running door to door for help but nothing fruitful,all i needed was your guidance!!!hope i can seek your help in future too!!!Thank you

Anonymous said...

Hi,

A very naive question maybe, but how and where do you import from? Are there any sites for the same? I'm particularly looking for a tube pan.

Vijeta
vjta.nanda@gmail.com

Suma Rowjee said...

Hi Vijeta! Normally someone carries it for me, I have not ordered online yet. You could check Amazon.

Lakshmi said...

Hi,

Could you tell me if you bought the 40L OTG Morphy Richards and how its working out for you?

Thanks
Lakshmi