Listen, I've been baking long before I really understood what I was doing. I never used anything more that what any other college student could afford (not much!) and still got some pretty good results. Still, I believe that if you can afford it, investing in a few key essentials will make your life a lot more easy when you are baking, and really make it that much more fun! First, I will go through all the kitchen tools I personally use in my own kitchen, and then I will briefly run through a quick and dirty pantry essentials list with all the ingredients I keep in-stock at all times in my kitchen. If you keep these items around, you will be able to run into your kitchen and make almost every single recipe on the blog - save for perishables like fresh fruits.
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer - If you've been following the blog, then you know I haven't been using a KitchenAid for very long. In fact, I was using this reallllllllly old mixer called that I don't think is even made anymore. It was a mixer I got for free from someone who got it at a garage sale. It passed many hands, and made many a cookie before my daughter sadly broke it by forcing the head down when it was locked in the up position, and then stuck a utensil into the bowl while it was mixing which really messed it up. Going from that to a KitchenAid, I can attest to how amazing it is working with it and how it changed my life for the better. Sure, there are other great mixers out there and the KitchenAid isn't perfect (but what appliance is?). I can honestly not recommend investing in one if you can afford it. FYI, I got mine at a Black Friday Sale for only $149, and had a $50 rebate, plus I had a few reward points and a coupon at the store I got mind from and it ended up costing only $80 in the end.
- KitchenAid Hand Mixer - This is my backup for when I don't want to deal with using a stand mixer, or want to be able to walk into the living room and catch a few minutes of a show while I am mixing (just being honest here!) You don't have to invest in anything expensive and if you decide to get one, you can certainly make do making many of my recipes without using a stand mixer if you wanted.
- Cuisine Art Immersion Blender - I've only ever used Cuisine Art immersion blenders, so I cannot really do much comparing for you. All I can say is that I absolutely love my immersion blender. It didn't cost a lot of money and really helped me make a few amazing milkshakes back in the day. It was also my tool of choice when I started making ice cream without an ice cream maker.
- Nostalgia Electrics Ice Cream Maker - I make a lot of ice cream. I just think it's so much better than anything you can get in the store and it's so easy to make. I actually bought this ice cream maker off eBay last year for only $15 and it's been the best investment I've ever made. Yes, there are more expensive models that can maybe get the job done faster, I'm not sure. All I know is that most other ice cream makers require you to freeze the insert for a full 24 hours, and this does not, which means you can make ice cream whenever the mood hits you! You do need to use salt with this maker, and they do recommend using some type of ice cream salt/rock salt, but I've been known to use kosher salt in a pinch with great results.
- Hamilton Beach Food Processor - Believe it or not, I only recently bought a food processor. I don't know what's taken me so long because it's a lifesaving workhorse. I use it to make my own nut and cookie butters, pastry dough, and even everyday chopping and shredding. Many food processors are overpriced in my opinon.Not only is this processor more than affordable, it works like a wonder.
- EatSmart Precision Elite Digital Kitchen Scale- If you are serious about baking and want consistent results every time, you must invest in a food scale. I don't know the exact model I have (I bought it during a sale at Rue La La), but the scale here looks very similar. I love that it can weigh up to 15 lbs, and its very accurate. It also make measuring faster with less mess, since you can just pour everything right into your bowl and simple tare, or zero out, the scale to get the exact measurement of every ingredient you are adding. Less mess means less washing means eating sooner means one seriously happy lady!
- Marble Pastry Board - I cannot tell you how much easier this board has made my life when making any type of bread or dough that needs to be rolled out. Before I would use a wood board which just meant the dough would stick to it more, no matter how much flour you added beforehand. Everything would just stick to the pores in the wood making my life a living nightmare in the kitchen, especially if it was humid that day. This allows you to more easily lift up your dough and it really easy to clean.
- OXO Bench Scraper - Okay, so your dough will still stick a little, okay? With a bench scraper, you can easily lift up that dough with no issues at all. Plus, I just found out that people use it to get their frosting smooth on cakes. Mind.blown.
- Bru Joy Lime & Lemon Juicer - I hate wasting things. Like, it's my biggest pet peeve in the world. I always drive myself nuts thinking there is more juice left in my citrus when I juice them. These juicer is one of my favorites because it really extracts every last drop of juice while also trapping in the seeds and pulp. I use mine almost daily.
- Superb Chefs Measuring Cups - I've gone through quite a few measuring cups before I finally found a set I loved. I prefer a metal cup over plastic because plastic tends to bend and warp and only lasted me less than a year. I also love that the measurements are engraved into the cups, and they have partial measures on the sides so you can easily measure ¾ and ⅔ cups.
- OXO Good Grips Measuring Spoons - Unlike measuring cups, I am less concerned about the materials used in making the spoons and am more concerned about the measurements and the shape. I prefer a measuring spoon that is more oval-shaped rather than round to allow me to insert the spoons into smaller jars easily. I also need the spoon and handle to be completely flush for easier measuring. I also need a full set that includes ½ tablespoon and ⅛ teaspoon which many sets do not have.
- Pyrex Liquid Measuring Cups - Liquid and dry measurements are vastly different. If you remember in chemistry class, for accurate liquid measurements, you must lay the glass on a flat surface and get to eye-level for a good measurement. Pyrex is one of the best brands of glass kitchen tools and bakeware around.
- Liquid Measuring Shot Glass - I love using these shot glasses for small liquid measurements. These glasses measure up to 2 tablespoons which is perfect for most uses. You really wouldn't believe how often I use mine.
- Wilton Disposable Piping Bags - In the past, I've tried using reusable bags, but something always ends up happening to them and I've settled on sticking with disposables. They do have some upsides which mostly revolve around less clean up which is big in my book. I like to buy a box of 12 inch bags as well as 16 inch bags
- Ateco 6-Piece Pastry Tube and Tips Set - At first I bought a set of smaller tips, but quickly realized how they were only good for making mini desserts. These tips are large and are prefect for cupcakes and cakes.
- Silicone Spatulas - Silicone spatulas are the best. I am obsessive with getting every last drop of liquid out of my bowls and these are perfect for the job (plus all the regular awesome uses). I love these because they are all one piece which is good for hygienic reasons. I also recommend wooden spoons.
- Silicone Baking Mats - These are perfect when you don't want to keep buying parchment paper. They also ensure even baking and less spreading. The one con is that it does tend to retain smells from foods which is usually only a problem when switching from sweet to savory foods. I keep one mat for each.
- Baking Pans - There are a lot of different baking pans that I use, too much to list individually here at the moment. I recommend in investing in a set like this, and buying a few extras such as an 8x8 inch baking pan, doughnut pans, tart pans, etc either on the side or as you need them.
I am assuming you have the basics of salt, pepper, butter, and eggs here. This is more of a list of the special ingredients that I tend to use a lot on the blog
Matcha powder - Matcha is a finely ground green tea and it has a wonderful earthy/sweet flavor to it. I've tried a few different types of matcha and the more you are willing to spend, the better quality (less earthy, more aromatic and sweet), but really, it's all a personal preference. The one I've linked to is the one I've most recently purchased.
Rose Water - I experiment a lot with rose water, but have been shy about posting many recipes using it on the blog simply because I am not sure how many people have rose water available. It is very powerful stuff, so you don't need a whole lot of it to make an impression.
Lavender - I've tried growing my own lavender a few years in a row with little success. I've realized now that buying dried lavender is simply easier.
Chamomile - I've recently just purchased a bulk of dried chamomile flowers (another plant I've unsuccessfully tried growing on my own) and love baking with it!
Chocolate Extract - I love chocolate extract. It brings back the top notes of chocolate that is lost in the chocolate making process for a more rounded chocolate flavor. My favorite brand is Rodelle (note: I am a brand ambassador for Rodelle, but I've been using their products long before this relationship and the ambassadorship started as a result of my love for their extracts)
Vanilla Fleur de Sel - I love fleur de sel as a finishing salt. The added vanilla makes it even better. I use it in both sweet and savory foods.
Boba Tapioca Pearls - Truth? I just recently bought these, but I am so in loooove and will definitely be posting a recipe or two or three using them.
Flour - I am assuming you have all-purpose flour, which is what I use most on the blog. Occasionally, I will use a special type of flour such as: Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, Graham Flour, or Semolina Flour.
Ground Flaxseed - I don't use this too much on the blog, but I do like to utilize it in my personal life a lot. It is a great thickener, and you can use it to replace eggs in many different recipes.