You finally moved out of Mom and Dad’s house and into your own apartment. You’ve paid your security deposit and your first month’s rent, bought furniture, and unpacked. Now it’s time to settle in to your new place, and there’s nothing as homey as the warm scent of freshly baked cookies. Don’t balk at the thought of setting up an efficient kitchen–it doesn’t take much to bake like a pro. Save the KitchenAid mixer for your first house and get started with a few basic tools.
Mixing bowls are often sold in a set of different sizes, but you only need one large mixing bowl. You can use regular cereal bowls as small mixing bowls. Stainless steel mixing bowls are popular, but you also use plastic, ceramic, or glass.
Wooden spoons are the go-to utensil for any baking project. Most retailers sell a set for as little as 99 cents, but you’re mixing thick dough, you might snap a spoon in half. Choose sturdy wooden spoons, or for a more luxurious and eco-friendly look, go for bamboo. A whisk and a rubber spatula are useful, but a fork and a little elbow grease get the job done.
Measuring Spoons and Cups
Essential for perfect recipes and portion control, measuring cups and spoons take the guess work out of cooking. You’ll use measuring spoons constantly in baking for salt, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract. With these delicate ingredients, exact amounts are crucial, as baking soda and powder can drastically affect the texture and shape of baked goods. Measuring cups can be used for dry and wet ingredients like flour, sugar, milk, and oil. Although inexpensive plastic sets are available, consider stainless steel, which retains less oil residue.
Baking Sheets and Pans
If you’re distracted by visions of zucchini bread and apple pie and mini-cupcakes, it’s tempting to buy every type of pan you might need. Slow down and think about your actual baking habits. If you’ve never made a pie, skip the fancy pie dish. Instead, buy multi-purpose items. A cookie sheet can also be used to roast vegetables and make pizza, and a cake pan doubles as a casserole dish. Essential pans might include a baking sheet, a 9”x13” rectangular pan, a muffin tin, and a 9”x5” loaf pan. If you’re on a budget, pick two, and rely on a variety of recipes to keep your baking routine exciting.
With the just a few basic kitchen tools, you can bake like a pro. When you’re just starting out and on a budget, look for multi-purpose items and avoid fancy gimicks. And as you move on up, your next kitchen will have plenty of space for flour sifters, cake pop makers, and bread machines. For now, the basics will get you through your first batch of cookies, and your new apartment will finally feel like home.
Amy S. contributes baking tips and recipes to Become A Better Baker, an online resource for passionate bakers of all skill levels and ages. Share your baking knowledge on Become A Better Baker’s Facebook.