A Baker Needs Good Tools ….

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Okay, okay – I’ll admit it, baking cupcakes and the quest for the perfect swirl became a bit of an obsession of mine.

I scoured magazines, cookbooks, blogs – anything I could get my hands on to find out how to get myself started.

What I never could find was a list of things that I might need when trying to replicate these cake beauties. So I thought I’d compile a short tool kit with links to where you can source your items.

Of course, experienced bakers won’t need this but anyone feeling a little unsure of what may be needed I hope this will be helpful.

Oh, and you don’t have to have all of this before making your cakes. I’ve built my tools up over time.

One or two good quality 12 hole muffin tins. I faffed about for ages buying cheap versions that rusted after months of hard use, two six-hole trays which just added to the – and ended up spending a fortune.

Most recipes make at least 12 cakes, so it makes sense to have a 12-hole tray. It took  me nearly two years to figure this out. Oh, and I don’t like the idea of silicone bakeware but if it floats your boat, then go for it!

Lakeland have some excellent trays – and usually have a Buy 2, Get 1 Free offer – but they are uber-expensive.

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/bakingenius-12-cup-muffin-tin/F/C/cooking-baking/C/cooking-baking-baking/C/baking-bakeware/product/13932/pgs/20

But my top tip for bakeware? Amazon. They nearly always have some kind of sale on and there’s usually free delivery too. I have two of these and they have lasted for ages and have not tarnished in any way. Good price too.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prestige-Non-stick-Bakeware-Cup-Muffin/dp/B003MVZ82Y/ref=sr_1_8?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1295950912&sr=1-8

Tip: Only use it for baking cakes. This may sound simple but I let my husband use one of my trays for Yorkshire puddings thinking it would be okay with a wash and it was ruined. Any pretty cake cases that were used afterwards were coated in a greasy residue – not the look I was going for!

Electric scales. For their accuracy and easy storage, it’s a no brainer.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000ZNM51O/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE

Free standing mixer or an electric hand-held mixer.

I know I’m lucky to have a KitchenAid mixer and it was something I had lusted after for years, never being able to justify the expense. Last year, my husband got fed up of the moaning and bought me one.

Not a new one, but one that had been previously owned and then returned to the store because it had arrived with a chip on the enamel. It meant we were able to knock about £180 off the price and I was in love!

It has been indispensable to me while baking and I couldn’t imagine cooking without it now. I can knock up huge quantities of buttercream in next to no time and cakes are so light.

But, I survived – and made lovely cakes too – with just a handheld mixer. Don’t expect it to be able to cope with massive amounts of batter or frosting but it will more than suffice for a normal family-size amount.

Disposable icing bags.

I have been buying these in boxes of 10 from Sainsbury’s for about £2, I think, for a while now. If you’re not using them much, then that’s fine but I have recently discovered job lots on eBay. Managed to pick myself up 100 for £5.53 and free P&P. Just search for disposable piping bags and there’s oodles to choose from.

Wilton 1M or 2D icing nozzles.

Everyone who doesn’t bake always asks me how to get a perfect rose swirl on their cupcakes. And, the answer, and one I had to search for hours on the net to find out is – it’s all down to the nozzle!

Get yourself a Wilton 1M or 2D nozzle and search for rose swirl in buttercream on You Tube and the mystery will unravel before your eyes! After that, it’s just down to practice and the consistency in your buttercream.

They are roughly £3 per nozzle: http://www.mumswhobake.co.uk/shop/product.php?id_product=437

or you can buy it as part of a set: http://www.mumswhobake.co.uk/shop/product.php?id_product=634

Small spatula and an angled one for larger cakes

These are a must if you want to decorate cupcakes with a ‘Hummingbird-style’ swirl or load three or four-layer cakes with frosting. Again, watch You Tube videos to find out how to decorate larger cakes. I have taught myself and am getting better – and more confident – with each cake that I make.

Hope this helps!


I won! I won a KitchenAid competition!

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To say I was excited by my aforementioned win was a slight understatement!

Apart from a few tenners on the Lottery and a book in a raffle, it is safe to say I’ve never won a competition that I’ve entered. But on the weekend of the 13th of February I had a lovely Facebook message.

I’d won a competition on KitchenAid’s Facebook page. Just simply being a member was enough to qualify me for entry and, lo and behold, I’d won a limited edition book!

So if you’re a KitchenAid fan, get over to their Facebook site and join.

It’s a great little community where you can share recipes and pictures of food you’ve cooked using your machine.

Here’s the link:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/KitchenAidUK/173391226031589

And thank you KitchenAid for my book – even though I’d already owned it since last year – this win made me read through it again and I’ve tried a recipe which I’ll blog about later.