Tarika Singh, baker and founder of the popular blog To the T helps us with a list of baking essentials every kitchen must have
The change of mood is palpable as soon as winter rolls in. There’s a natural swing in everyone’s step and party planning takes priority. With the dip in temperature, baking boozy cakes, spiced cookies and decadent pies take centre stage at celebrations. Here’s my pick of six baking essentials that will help you sail through the season:
1. Weighing Scale
Most of us start our baking journey using measuring cups, but baking is all about precision, and measuring cups can be highly unreliable. Depending on humidity and how tightly packed the flour is, you could end up getting too little or too much flour or sugar in a measuring cup. It is the sort of difference that could turn your clafoutis into a cake and vice versa. Take the guesswork out of your baking by using a weighing scale where 1 cup of flour will always be 125 grams. Modern day digital weighing scales are inexpensive, easy to maintain and available online.
2. Pestle and Mortor
Gingerbread, Pumpkin Spice or just freshly ground cardamom! I love making my spice blends from scratch in a pestle and mortar, simply because of the aroma that envelops my kitchen when I start pounding the spices. It is also extremely cathartic at the end of a long, working day.
3. Oven Thermometer
Popped your cake in the oven at the precise temperature described in the recipe for the exact amount of time, but realized half way through baking time that your cake is burnt? Trust me, it is not your fault. Most ovens in India overheat, so while you set the temperate to 180 degrees Celsius, what goes on inside the oven is a whole different story. An oven thermometer is placed inside the oven to give you a reading of what the internal temperature is. So, if you’ve set the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, but the oven thermometer shows you a reading of 200 degrees Celsius, you know it is time to turn the temperature down.
4. Rolling Pin
When it comes to rolling pins, what works for chapatis, doesn’t work for tarts and pies. A slightly heavier rolling pin that allows for a swivel motion is ideal for rolling out tart, pie and sugar cookie doughs that need to be worked on swiftly, without melting the butter in the dough.
5. Cooling Racks
A set of tiered cooling racks is the best investment I’ve made in my kitchen. I had been using all sorts of silly contraptions as substitutes, but these cooling racks have helped me master ‘crisp on the edges but gooey-centred cookies’ while helping cakes, cupcakes and pies cool way faster.
6. Vanilla Extract
The real deal. The stuff we get at grocery stores, sold to us for Rs. 30? Never use it! That is vanilla essence and has very little to do with real vanilla. Vanilla extract, on the other hand, is a labour of love, made over a period of a few months when high quality pods are soaked in vodka for a couple of months. You will only need a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract in most recipes, but using the real deal will make a world of difference to anything you choose to bake!