Raindrops on roses
And Kitchen Aid mixers
Bright orange spatulas and turntables spinning
Piping bag, tips and French rolling pins
These are a few of my favourite things!
These are my favourites. My go-tos. My need to haves.
When I started getting serious about baking years and years ago, I asked a friend who was already an established pastry chef what her must-haves were. She gave me a great list of tools that any baker (home or professional) should have:
- Offset spatulas in various sizes
- Baking pans (good ones)
- Piping bags (tips, couplers)
- Rolling pin
She also listed her favourite books, most of which I have forgotten (remember, this was at least a decade ago, probably longer!), but the one I do remember and have is Rose Levy Barenbaum’s The Cake Bible. I cannot recommend this book enough. She provides you with the whys and whats and the recipes. She is a font of knowledge and you’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t at least borrow this book from someone.
Back to my babies.
Ms. Orange is my favourite spatula. She’s heat resistant, incredibly durable, orange(!) and dishwasher safe, because let’s be honest, after hours upon hours of baking and caking, the last thing you want to do is wash dishes. Just throw what you can in the dishwasher, click start and hit the hay.
The offset spatula. This guy is important. You need to have him in your arsenal of cake decorating tools because he is the assistant you wish you had. He makes spreading fillings and buttercreams a dream. Need to smooth out the top and sides of your cake? Offset spatula is your man. That angle in the blade makes all the difference in the world.
The metal scoop. Great for ice cream, yes, but amazing at scooping out just the right amount of batter for your cupcakes. Get the kind with a spring handle that you squeeze. I’ve owned a few over the years, but this guy pictured holds about a 1/4 cup of batter which is the perfect amount of batter I need for my cupcakes. Depending on your recipe, you may need one that holds more, or one that holds less. They come in various sizes, so don’t be shy to test them out and see which size works the best for you.
The measuring cup. An absolute essential, but let’s be clear. Not all measuring cups are made equal. I’ve had plastic ones that don’t have the longevity of glass, I’ve had ones that don’t pour well. I mean, the whole purpose of a spout is to pour and pour well. Drives me mental when things start pouring everywhere except where it’s meant to be poured! *Breathe* But I digress… Pyrex is a well-known and respected brand world wide and there’s good reason. Quality. I know I’m waxing poetic here, but I love my Pyrex measuring cups. Yes, plural. You’ll need more than one. Trust me.
My smoothers. I cannot smooth my buttercream without these babies. I have a few different ones, as well as a metal bench scraper, but I like how lightweight these are. And yes, you can definitely smooth out your buttercream solely with an offset spatula, but for me, I need both. I use the offset spatula to apply and spread the buttercream on my cakes, but use the smoothers to really get in there and smooth out the sides of my cakes. I still use the offset to smooth out the tops of cakes though. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s just my preference and how I’ve been doing it all these years. It’s what works for me.
Ok. Piping bags. Definite needs. Some work with reusable piping bags and I have in the past, but I’ll be honest. I like that I can just use the disposable ones for what I need and then just throw them away. *gasp* I know, but I like said earlier, the last thing I want to do is to wash a piping bag after a long night of baking. You gotta wash the reusable ones by hand, too. Nope. Just give me my disposables and let me get on with my day. Thanks!
Tips. If you’re wondering what tips to get if you’re just starting out. These 4 will give you a great start to your decorating kit. The small round tip (I like a 2 or 3) is great for writing and adding decorative dots to your decorations. The 104 can be used to make petal roses, ranunculas, ruffled flowers, borders–it’s a versatile tip. The 1M (open star) will give you those perfect rosettes, shell borders, the perfect buttercream swirl to top your cupcakes–so many uses. Definite must-have. Lastly, the 2D (closed star) will help you make beautiful (and easy!) buttercream roses and hydrangeas. Great for making borders as well.
So, I’m a little embarrassed by sharing photos of my turntable as it’s seen better days. This baby has been with me since the start of my cake business and it shows! I’ve been wanting a weighted turntable for a few years now, but just never get around to buying one. Have you seen the one that John Kanell from the The Preppy Kitchen has? That. I want that one. The turntable is essential to cake decorating. Whether you’re decorating with buttercream or fondant. You need the flexibility and freedom to spin your cake around with ease.
These babies are my favourites for fondant. I love my French rolling pin. See the tapered ends? That’s the difference between a French rolling pin and regular baker’s rolling pin with handles. I love the French style rolling pin because the lack of handles gives you more control and makes it easier to get a feel for the thickness of the fondant you’re rolling. Plus, the tapered handles are perfect for my smalls hands.
Personal (random!) side note: I once dated someone who remarked how small my hands were. Thanks, I guess? I’m 5’2″ how big do you expect my hands to be?? Honestly.
The fondant smoother. I mean, you could smooth your fondant with your hands, I supposed, but why would you? This one’s a no-brainer.
Now, these are not essentials, but they’re definitely my favourites and yes, I have two.
My Kitchen Aid stand mixers are my essentials. I can’t imagine my baking life without them. They’re absolute work horses and power houses. These mixers have literally baked thousands of cupcakes and cakes over the past decade. Both still going strong, too. Alien (the black KA) is a little louder than he used to be, but I’m sure that’s an easy fix. The Baron (the red KA) is in great shape, but I’m sure he could use a bit of maintenance, too. PS. If you know how to fix a loud KA, leave me a comment or send me a message.
And there you have it. My rag tag team of favourites. What are your favourites? Leave me a comment!