Basic Bakeware Needs for Beginners | Baking Tools and Essentials

Someone who was looking to start baking recently asked a question in a group what the best bakeware is, where to buy from, and whether to opt for a hand mixer or the stand mixer?

That made me go back in time and ask myself, "how did I start baking?"  And when I asked readers on my Facebook page if they'd like a post on the basic baking tools and they responded affirmative, here is a post that I hope will help other beginners.

In this post am going to share a little background of how I began baking, things I learned over time, pictures of baking tools I have, a list of basic things you need (and do not need), and some suggestions.  My aim is to give you valuable information under one roof, so I will be editing this post often as I think of more tips, ideas, answers to questions, and some more pictures as I stock up on more things.

I started baking in 2011.  As I learned more each day, I gradually purchased baking supplies to what I now have in stock.  The very first thing, if I remember well, was buying a 9" round cake pan and 9" square pan, which I later realized was too big for a family of two, and neither could we eat that quantity nor did I want to throw away half of it each time.  I then bought a 6" round.  Tip: choose your cake pan size based on your needs.

So, let's get to the question: what basic tools do you need to start baking?  What are the basic bakewares needed for a beginner?

- Baking Pans
Based on your needs, buy: muffin or cupcake pan, cookie sheet, brownie pan, cake pan, loaf tin, pie pan, springform pan, and perhaps pizza stone [last four not shown in picture].  Remember that bakewares are not only aluminum or nonstick, but several glass containers (such as Pyrex), porcelain materials (such as ramekins), or pyroceramic glass cookware (such as Corningware) that are oven-safe usually up to 400°F (check manufacturer's instructions) can be used for baking as well.  Tip: aluminum pans distribute heat evenly whereas dark nonstick pans brown faster, but of course no harm in buying the dark nonstick ones either.

It's good to buy two of each pan if you'd like to make layered cakes - saves time and energy.  Tip: if you use two cookie sheets simultaneously in your oven, you should place your racks equidistant and halfway through the baking time you must rotate the cookie sheets so that they bake evenly.  As for using two cake pans in the oven at the same time, keep a little gap between the pans instead of sticking them side by side.  For now, I have two cookie sheets, but others pans are just one of each.  So my batter either has to wait until first batch is done, or I bake a new batch each time.  Well, gradual purchase, gradual investment.

I have bought some pans and decorating tools from Michael's, some pans and baking supplies from Kohl's, Ross, Walmart, and other stores in town, whereas some were ordered online.  I haven't bought any Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart bakeware; I mostly have Wilton, Farberware and Oneida.  But I must say - I have used Pyrex round glass bowls too for baking (such as, this three tier cake), one of Anchor Hocking's stackable glass bowl to bake small cake, and the Pyrex rectangle glass container to bake this vegan cake, this chocolate pudding cake, this eggless banana bread, and this classic white bread.  One of my BEST investments, I tell ya!

I have a plan to use my newly purchased Pyrex square glass small containers to bake brownies and cakes.  The only problem with glass containers is that they do not have sharp edges, they're curved, hence if you bake a cake you will have to cut to level the cakes for frosting if you want to stack them up.  Tip:  when I buy any Pyrex bowl or glass container, I look for it to serve five purposes - reheat, bake, refrigerate, store, and serve.

- Mixing bowls
I have stainless steel and stackable glass mixing bowls in different sizes.  Everything from cookie dough to brownie batter, from bread dough to cake batter, from serving Indian curries in them to whipping up frosting for the cupcakes happens in them.  Get your mixing bowl with a good balanced flat base.  And if you use hand mixer, then get mixing bowls with some depth (otherwise flour and everything else flies out often).

- Cooling rack
An essential buy because if you do not give your baked goods enough space and time to cool, the heat inside will continue to cook them, making them dense and chewy.

- Aluminum foil
I use it to cover the racks in my oven so that if anything overflows it does not create a mess inside the oven (and then there is no cleaning required for a year).  I also use aluminum foil to create a barrier if I want to bake only on one-half side of the pan.  That's another tip - if you don't want to invest in a new pan, you can make partitions in your pan with aluminum foil. (follow the link to see example)

- Parchment paper
From placing parchment paper on cookie sheet to make French bread to placing parchment paper scraps under a cake to decorate, from rolling out a cookie dough between two parchment papers (avoids sticking) to peeling out the parchment smoothly from the cake - a parchment paper is a MUST HAVE for me.  If you don't want to buy this, you can grease your pans with oil and dust with flour so that baked goods do not stick to the pan, otherwise they'll not come out easily and will break.  Tip: If you notice some parchment sheets underneath my hand mixer and its parts - I keep some circle and square ones cut out to the size of my pans ready, and the light brown parchment sheets have turned this color because of using them over and over.  Right after you bake and remove the parchment, if you clean it right away, you can easily use it again instead of throwing it away.  YEP!!

- Cupcake liners
Buy good quality reasonably priced cupcake liners (I mostly buy Wilton ones from Walmart, or from Michael's if I have a coupon to use).

- Hand mixer
After all these years of baking, although I have desperately been waiting to get a KitchenAid stand mixer now proudly own one (*doing the happy dance!!*), I finally invested in a Cuisinart hand mixer (from Costco). Should have done that much earlier.  Although I don't mind the amount of muscle work I got done all these years, and the wonderful workarounds I learned because of not having a gadget!  The only thing I dislike about this Cuisinart hand mixer is that the lowest setting is not low enough, rest I am happy with it.

- Weighing scale
A great buy, because it is easy to mistakenly pack and measure dry ingredients using cups, but 100 grams of flour anywhere in the world will be the same. I got mine from Costco.

- Sieve
To sift sugar, cocoa powder, etc so there are no lumps.  A sieve is essential to sift flour and leavening agents so the flour is light and airy.  I do not have the flour sifter shaped like a cup where you press the handle to sift flour (I find it unnecessary, just personal preference).

- Measuring bowls and measuring spoons
I have a set of plastic (from Walmart) and stainless steel (Bed Bath and Beyond) measuring cups and spoons.  The measures printed on plastic disappear after few washes, the engraved print on steel remains.  Steel is always good, but the plastic one although cheaper has been good to me since three years.

- Spatula
Rubber/silicone spatula is the best, you need it for scraping the sides of the bowl as well as for folding the mixture gently.  You really do not need more than two spatulas.  But I bought the first two red ones and realized that a little of my batter is wasted because of that little bump on the spatula when I scrape it at the edge of the bowl.  So I bought the yellow one which is totally flat and really good.

- Whisk
I first bought a larger balloon whisk, but it was too big for smaller batches (which is exactly what I most often bake, hence must buy something that will be convenient to use).  So then last year finally bought the smaller whisks (one is steel, the other rubber) since they're more useful especially for just quick whip and for smaller quantities where I do not need to use a hand mixer.

- Grater
While not an essential, and while being a common kitchen tool anyway - I use this grater [instead of buying Microplane zester] to get lemon and orange zest to add to the batters and frostings.  A grater is also useful if you want to make carrot cake, zucchini cake, beetroot cake, etc.  Tip: A grater is also useful when you do not have 30 minutes to let cold butter come to room temperature, so when you grate the slab of cold butter the smaller portion of butter reaches room temperature within 5-10 minutes.

- Oven Mitt
Very important to avoid hot oven burns.  I have had only one, I use a folded kitchen towel in another hand when I need support.  For a beginner, one is enough.

- Brush
While not mandatory, a pastry brush helps to grease the pan (otherwise you can use fingers or oil spray), helps to brush milk or butter over bread, etc.  The ones you seen in the picture - one is natural bristles, the other is silicone.

- Ice cream scoop
The smaller scoop for cookies and mini-cupcakes, larger ice cream scoop for standard size muffins and cupcakes.  Tip: distributing equal amounts of cupcake batter or cookie dough using a scoop helps in even baking and even looking baked goods.

Miscellaneous: Pizza wheel mostly useful for cutting bread dough and pizza, but  you can easily use a knife instead.  Don't buy cake tester (toothpick does the same job).  A cake tester is useful when you bake cakes with depth or larger bundt cakes because your toothpick will not reach to the bottom - for which, you can always use a spaghetti or a knife.  I also keep the chopstick along with my measuring cups and spoons, it helps in leveling.

Now if you plan to decorate your cakes, that would need another lengthy shopping list!

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Do you have any questions related to baking?  Let me know in the comments below.
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  1. What a wonderful post nisha ...I too had a basics of baking in my blog ,when time permits check it out

  2. awesome post dear... i'm definitely going to check my items against this list to see if i am fully equipped...

  3. awesome article... so helpful... pls pls do write about decorating tools too soon. I am on the hunt on how to decide on purchasing deco tools. Thanks in advance.

  4. Very nice and detailed post. I had also written a series of posts on baking basics ( cake baking to be precise ) and they turned out to be some of the most popular posts on my blog.........have been planning to do a decorating basics series for a long time but alas, don't seem to find the time. I shall look forward to your next post in the series.

  5. Very thoughtful write up. Ill refer to your checklist when I start Baking. Thnaks for the post Nisha.


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