Just Add Mel and Sue: Six Tools for Better Baking
I am a lifelong lover of baking. I currently live in an apartment with a tiny, tiny kitchen (it is as wide as Hero, nose to tail. I've measured.), but I still manage to get quite a bit of baking done despite having practically no counter space and barely being able to open my oven door. Because of my space issue, I also don't like to bring in extra stuff. Everything needs to serve a purpose, otherwise it has no place in my space. That being said, there are a few key items in my baking arsenal that I think any baker, whether just starting out or bound for the Bake Off tent, could benefit from having in their kitchen.
- I really loved Ikea's cookie sheets, but for some unknown but surely ludicrous reason they no longer sell them. Now the best cookie sheet out there is this one from Crate & Barrel. But I can tell you, it is easily 4x better than my Ikea cookie sheets and it is one of the nicest looking things in my kitchen. (Is is shinier than the photo suggests, and this is after multiple uses.)
- Speaking of Ikea, I use their Korken canisters to hold my flours, sugar, baking soda, etc. They're fantastic for organizing your baking ingredients, and at $4 for a canister that holds a 2lb bag of flour are a great deal. For comparison, this similarly sized canister from Target is $11. No matter what your price point, if you're going to have a lot of ingredients around, clear canisters are the only way to organize.
- I only recently started sifting my flours. I have food allergies and I use alternative flours, and I noticed that almond flour in particular is prone to clumping. Does sifting my flour make a huge difference? No. But it makes a small difference that makes me happy. Plus, sifting is fun. (I bought my sifter at Target for about $5, but because that one isn't online here's a pricier one from Crate and Barrel.)
- If there's something I think every kitchen needs, whether you're a cooker or a baker, it's a one piece silicone spatula. That one piece part is important, too! I don't own this particular Sur La Table spatula pictured above, and I am so devoted to my message that it be ONE PIECE that I zoomed in on the photo because despite it saying it was one piece, it looks like there's a seam. I purchased my spatula at Home Goods or TJ Maxx and I don't even think it has a brand name on it, but it is one of the best kitchen purchases I have made. It is so durable, so easy to clean, so useful, I think every single person needs at least one.
- My beloved cookie recipe calls for six tablespoons of almond butter. Six tablespoons doesn't convert to anything useful, but the recipe makes eight cookies, and they're highly addictive and wildly popular, so you should make a double batch, meaning you'll need 12 tablespoons of almond butter. Now you're in business, because 12 tablespoons is 3/4 cup. Normally you'd use 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup, but wouldn't it be easier if you could just use ONE cup? Almond butter is a pain to measure, after all. Well, my friend, some genius went and made measuring cups for odd measurements (2/3, 3/4, etc). Once again, this is a miracle product I found at Home Goods or the like (so you can find them all over), but here's Williams-Sonoma's version.
- When you have a tiny kitchen, you become very aware of what's taking up too much damn space. You know what takes up too much damn space? Pot holders. My little drawers don't have room for that puffy nonsense, no matter how cute I think potholders that look like bear paws are. Enter these amazing silicone squares. They're incredibly effective as potholders and trivets, and they're about a centimeter thick. You can put five of them in the space one traditional pot holder would take up in your drawer. The one pictured is $5 at Bloomingdale's, but you know I have a stockpile of $3 Ikea ones. You can also sometimes find cute ones at places like Daiso or Amazon.