Having the proper tool for the task at hand can be critical. This is true of many tasks including baking cookies. You can utilize shortcuts and substitute tools, but it will produce less successful results. The good news is once you have your arsenal built, the tools are very sturdy and easy to maintain. They should last for many years. Additionally, none of them are cost-prohibitive and are readily available.
savour… kitchen success
THE RIGHT TOOLS: BAKING COOKIES
Here is my shortlist of essentials:
- Measuring spoons – I prefer to use a set with several increments. I like the narrow sort that will fit into spice jars.
- Measuring cups – I keep a set with several sizes for dry ingredients and a graduated liquid measuring cup.
- Rubber or silicone spatula – The kind that Rachel Ray calls “spoonula” is my favorite.
- Wire whisk – You can decide whether you want it to be coated, but keep one of these on hand for uniformly incorporating dry ingredients into flour before mixing into the wet ingredients.
- Aluminum baking pans (jelly roll pans) – These pans are a workhorse for commercial or home use. I keep several in my home kitchen. Find these at a restaurant supply store for far less than a regular retailer.
- Parchment paper – This stuff is like magic! You can use one sheet for several batches until it starts to brown. Then you just discard it. I don’t remember the last time I greased a cookie sheet or scrubbed off the baked-on dough.
- Aluminum foil – Not every cookie is baked on parchment paper. Foil is perfect for those that will have a crispier bottom. Use the dull side up for some (but not too much) reflection.
- Metal spatula – I prefer metal to plastic because of the tight edge. Beyond that, the plastic edges tend to erode with use.
- Oven mitt – I think this is obvious.
- Wire cooling rack – Cookies generally need to be taken off of their cookie sheet shortly after coming out of the oven. This will prevent further cooking and drying out. Choose a rack that raises the cookies a little off of the counter.
- Cookie scoop – Scoops come in a variety of sizes. Choose one or two that will produce at least a small and medium cookie. They will make sure you get consistent results and cookies of uniform size.
- Rolling pin – This is a necessity for rolled cookies. Really every kitchen should have one for a variety of reasons.
- Basic cutters – While you may wish to stock up on other basic shapes, a circle cutter is a must. Buy a biscuit cutter and it will serve double duty.
- Sifter – Sifting is often required for baking. The weight of a cup of flour can vary significantly based on settling and packing. Sifting breaks up clumps and makes measuring more consistent and uniform.
- Scale (with grams) – If you want to make those cookies exactly the same the next time this is essential. Convert any recipes you have that don’t already list grams to make your life easier and get consistent results.
You may already have many, if not all, of these items in your kitchen. They are basic. I have learned over the years that these tools produce consistently good results. Oh, I have been lured like so many others by shiny new products filled with promise. However, there is something to be said for tried and true.
The only exception I will make is in terms of a mixer. Many cookie recipes can be (and some should be) accomplished with a wooden spoon and a very strong arm or a 20-year-old hand-held drug store mixer (experience talking here). I make dozens of cookies every week. For my money and time, there is nothing more valuable than a stand mixer. It is not required but can make cookie baking so much easier.
Before your next foray into cookies, check your toolbox. These products are readily available at your local discount store or online. By the way, a cleverly wrapped package of some or all of these items would make a perfect wedding or house-warming gift. Here’s to fresh-baked cookies…