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    5 Essential Products For Anyone Who's Serious About Baking

    There's a lot of baking equipment out there, but these take the cake.

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    If you’re like me, you all too often find yourself wistfully navigating the narrow aisles of luxury home-goods stores, lust in your heart for the impossible perfection captured in novelty cake pans and spatulas of limitless variety.

    Mark Franczyk / Via, Mark Franczyk / Via

    How about a log cabin cake, you wonder, perfect for that President’s Day celebration? Soon, your pantry is cluttered with shameful impulse buys amplified when, years later, your significant other reminds you, “I never did get that Abe Lincoln cake you promised!”

    Step away from the handcrafted, gourmet, artisanal, sustainable, organic, imported-yet-somehow-locally-sourced, non-GMO, non-bleached…whatevers.

    A distressing amount of baking products on the market are designed to decorate a kitchen, not for use in actual baking. For someone who sincerely wants to bake, I highly recommend taking a look at a few of these simple essentials.

    1. The indispensable: the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale, a durable scale that will give your baking endeavors the precision they deserve.

    Mark Franczyk / Via BuzzFeed

    Serious about baking? Then you absolutely need a metric scale. Ditch the measuring cups and embrace the gram! This particular kitchen scale never leaves my counter. It’s a durable workhorse, and it’s the one I’ve seen used most consistently throughout professional kitchens.

    Mine has remained perfectly accurate after years of heavy use and abuse (and I can’t remember the last time I replaced the batteries). It’s easy to clean — there are no annoying corners that trap globs of batter, cultivating homegrown botulism. The pull-out display is critical when weighing large trays and bowls that would otherwise obscure the read-out (a feature you might not fully appreciate until you need it). And while I’ve found no need for the LED backlight, it’s a sexy blue glow that is certain to delight those who bake in the dark.

    The 11-pound model (that’s 5 kilos for those keeping score) is more than sufficient for most home use, but there’s also a 22-pound model, in case you’re preparing to tackle some serious holiday cookie production.

    Get the 11-pound scale from Amazon for $34.99 or from Jet for $49.99 or the 22-pound scale from Amazon for $69.95.

    2. The unexpected: the Kenwood 5-Quart Titanium Kitchen Machine, a dark-horse favorite stand mixer that's worth the splurge.

    Just mentioning — never mind outright recommending — a stand mixer other than KitchenAid may seem like culinary treason. May your soufflés never rise, eggs Benedict Arnold! I was similarly biased upon starting culinary school, and did a spit take when I entered a classroom filled with Kenwood “kitchen machines.” But I quickly came to secretly resent the KitchenAid I had at home. It seems I was not alone. Even the The Great British Bake Off quietly made the switch from KitchenAid to Kenwood in 2015.

    It's true that an equivalent-model Kenwood costs a full $100 more than a KitchenAid, but when a stand mixer is one of your most expensive kitchen purchases, it's worth saving up for the real deal.

    The Kenwood reigns supreme in many simple yet important ways. The mixing attachments (paddle, whisk, and dough-hook) and bowl achieve perfect harmony — fewer mixing stops to scrape down the bowl. For those who enjoy bread-making, the relative power provided by the Kenwood for thick doughs is nothing short of an emotional relief: no more tortured screams of straining gears desperate for the kneading to end. And the bowl itself has two handles located along the top rather than the KitchenAid’s cartoonish, mug-like side handle. I will admit, the Kenwood’s particular pivot head design took some getting used to — the lock release just never felt intuitive. And a few additional demerits are warranted for the way the mixing attachments connect – while the KitchenAid attachments solidly lock in place, the Kenwood equivalents seem too eager to release when the mixer stops. But these are minor complaints compared to the Kenwood's many advantages.

    Get it from Amazon for $499.95.

    3. The unfailing: a nonstick silicone baking mat to make clingy pastries a thing of the past.

    Mark Franczyk / Via BuzzFeed

    I’m baffled by the absence of silicone baking sheets in most kitchens. Nothing will stick to them, despite my best efforts. Even my most poorly executed, burnt-to-carbon disasters have slid right off (into the trash). Use them as you would parchment or wax paper, and voilà, pastry perfection!

    Like most wonderful things in pastry, the original silicon baking sheet, the Silpat, is French by origin. The brand is so dominant that it has become synonymous with the product itself, but I’ve had as much success with generic options that run a fraction of the cost.

    Get a Silpat baking mat for $13.99+ (available in four sizes) or a set of two AmazonBasics mats for $9.62 from Amazon.

    4. The cheap: baking sheets, plastic wrap, and parchment paper, which are worth buying in bulk from your friendly internet restaurant supplier.

    Mark Franczyk / Via BuzzFeed

    Sometimes it pays to be cheap.

    Expensive baking sheets are easily the greatest scam perpetrated on the general baking public. Simple, aluminum sheet trays are the most versatile option available. A standard half-sheet tray (18”x13”) is perfect for most home ovens and can be found for as little as $3.49 at online restaurant supply stores. Pair it with that new baking mat, and you’re good to go for cookies, cakes, and all of your savory cooking projects as well.

    Plastic wrap is another essential that I will only buy in large quantities. Anyone who has fumbled in frustration with brand-name plastic wrap, which always seems too narrow for the job at hand or too determined to stick to nothing but itself, will love the 2-foot width of a commercial roll. And if you have space for 2,000 feet, you’ll be triple-wrapping everything in your kitchen for years to come for less than $18. The equivalent amount of inferior brand-name wrap will set you back at least $100. Easy math.

    The last item I buy in restaurant volumes is parchment paper. Like plastic wrap, retail prices are painful. William Sonoma silicone-coated baking papers cost $49.95 for 250. In bulk, the price is $51.99 for 1,000.

    Get an 18"x13" sheet tray for $3.49, a 2,000-foot package of plastic wrap for $17.49, and a 1,000-sheet case of parchment paper for $51.99, all from from Webstaurant Store.

    5. The intriguing: BakeWise, an essential cookbook for bakers as interested in the "why" as the "how."

    Simon & Schuster / Via

    Two parts pastry, one part mystery novel, and one part organic chemistry lab report: It’s the recipe for a surprisingly unique baking cookbook. For anyone seeking a comprehensive collection of extensively tested pastry recipes, Corriher’s text is canonical. For those interested in the narratives behind the testing — chronicles of the failures, successes and "aha!" moments along the way — BakeWise is the best you will find. Corriher’s “play along at home” style is particularly satisfying if you’re interested in developing your own recipes — encouraging home cooks to better understand why certain recipes work and why others don’t.

    Get it from Amazon for $29.74, Barnes & Noble for $30.93, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    Well, what are you waiting for?

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    Do your holiday shopping with BuzzFeed. Check out all of our gift guides here!

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