Grandmother's Tips for Cake Making Equipment

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Equipment for Cake Making

What equipment will you need to bake a cake? So long as you have a cake pan and mixing bowl, some measuring devices and a spoon for stirring, you can make a basic cake. That being said, baking more ambitious projects will be more easily done with some kitchen equipment you will yearn to possess to make the process easier and give certain results you are looking to achieve.

For most home bakers, the first major item is an electric mixer. This can be in the form of a hand held mixer or stand mixer. In our Grandmothers' days, it was tedious work to cream butter and beat eggs by hand stirring or with the little rotary hand mixers you cranked by hand. The best advice is to get what you can afford. A little hand held electric mixer will do the job very nicely and many a home-bakers only use this type of mixer.


Stand Mixers

Having a Kitchen Aid stand mixer is really a treat and if you are doing a lot of baking on a regular basis and is wonderful to use. It is a top of the line heavy duty machine that you can depend on to beat through dough and batters without fail. There are other brands of stand mixers like Hamilton Beach and Sunbeam that are lower prices than the Kitchen Aid and a home baker would also be happy to have. The real difference we have noticed in our own personal experience is some of the very inexpensive hand held beaters struggle to beat some of the thicker batters as they have less powerful motors. I guess we women could find it comparable to a hair curling iron with a high BTU or a lower one, one heats up fast and stays hot, the other has less power. Both work, but the quality of the devices vary.

Cake Pans

Next comes the various sizes and shapes of cake pans. There are such a large variety of novelty shaped pans like hearts, airplanes, monkey and bears to name just a few, but these are not required and if you have small children and plan to bake the same shape every birthday for a few years, it may be worth letting the pan take up space in your cupboard, but often these pans get used once then they become items that just take up space.

For most regular cakes you can use 8 or 9 inch round or square pans. A 9x5 inch loaf pan, and a 9x13 baking pan are basics for the home baker. In addition to that a 12 hole muffin tin and you have a good basic set of tools to bake in.

For pastry there are recipes calling for fluted edge and removable base pans so the finished pie can be completely unmolded and slipped onto a platter for serving. Flan rings are one choice, these are plain circles of metal 1-inch or so high which are set on a baking sheet so the pastry shell can be lined and cooked inside. When done the ring gets lifted from the pie that is then transferred to a platter. Flan rings and pie pans don't need to have preparation done to them because pastry doughs contain enough fat to prevent pie shells from sticking.

Cakes on the other hand are a different story as far as sticking to the pan goes. Depending on the recipe, cake pans need to be prepared with a light coating of butter or oil, shortening or margerine that is rubbed evenly onto the surface of the cakepan. Some recipes like sponge cakes call for a light coating of flour and or granulated sugar. To do this, you sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons into the pan, shake it around until the bottoms and sides are evenly coated, then turnout the excess.

Should I Buy Cheap Equipment?

As with all kitchen equipment, the cheapest baking items are not always a good choice. Some of these items will buckle in the heat and give you scorched food or misshapen results. This applies especially to baking sheets, which can twist so much they never go flat again. Over the years we have gone through several cheap cookie sheets that twisted and lost their shape, and we have had lots of burnt and uneven baked cookies with inferior cookie sheets that just are not created to give you good even baking results. Some of the prices of cookie sheets just seemed so expensive it seemed hard to justify. Purchasing one really good high quality baking sheet is going to outlast the cheap ones that you will get inferior baking results with and is going to last a long long time. Good bake-ware does go on sale from time to time, so you can watch your flyers and get in on good pricing.

Tools for Cake Making

To make the job of baking a cake easier, you need a few tools.

A flat wooden spoon or wooden or wooden spatula is best for creaming butter and beating stiff mixtures like egg yolks and sugar or butter and sugar. If a regular rounded wooden spoon is used the mixture tends to collect in the bowl of the spoon and is not worked in as well as with a flat surfaced spoon.

A wire whisk can be used for many tasks but be sure to clean it spotlessly.

A rubber spatula does the best job of scraping the bowl clean. If you are only going to have one rubber spatula, choose one that is heat-resistant. Many spatulas are not heat resistant and will melt and fray when you are using them for cooking.

A metal spoon with a long handle is a great tool for 'folding'. The metal cuts cleaning into the mixture and so combines the ingredients more quickly.

A rotary beater is necessary for light mixtures like egg whites or for whole mixtures of eggs and sugar that need to be beaten enough to create as much air as possible.

An electric mixer beats as well or better than you can by hand. You are able to adjust the speed of the mixture to the consistency of the mixture you are beating and the amount of air you want to incorporate.

Parchment paper is the popular choice for lining your cake pans. Parchment paper is heat resistant and makes a wonderful choice to line pans with. There was a time waxed paper was used but it was not heat resistant and the wax had the potential to melt. Aluminum foil is also used, but the trend these days is to the more earth friendly parchment paper. Parchment paper is paper that has been impregnated with silicone and that is what makes it heat resistant.

Silicone baking products are another option. They come in all shapes and sizes, are washable, reusable and give great baking results offering non-stick properties.

References: Grand Diplome Cooking Course (1972, Hardcover), William Anne. Danbury Press.

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