The holidays are officially in full swing, which means baking and lots of it! This month's kitchen tools are three pieces that I cannot live without during this baking marathon month. By no means are these tools that I am sharing today new or cutting edge, but they are all MVPs in my kitchen (especially during this "most wonderful time of the year!").
In my opinion, the Silpat is a baking staple. I can remember watching an episode of Martha Stewart Living way back when and hearing her give cookie baking instructions that usually included "and don't forget to use your Silpats!" If you aren't familiar with this product, a Silpat is a reusable silicone non-stick baking sheet that comes in a variety of sizes. It's perfect for baking cookies, rolling out dough and even roasting vegetables. To clean these sheets, you need only to wipe them down with a damp cloth and a little mild dish detergent. Plus, they roll up for easy and compact storage. Silpats are also a great way to cut down on the amount of parchment paper and aluminum foil typically used for baking, saving you money and helping the environment (double win!).
Traditional Flour Sifter
I would have to say that sifting dry ingredients through a sieve is probably one of my least favorite baking tasks. The bowl shape of the mesh on the sieve never fails to have my dry ingredients flying out of the mixing bowl and I usually have to use a utensil of some sort to help push all of the dry ingredients through the sieve. Sifting is an extremely important step in baking and definitely does make a difference with the final product, but the sieve method is less than ideal.
Throughout both college and grad school I would babysit on a regular basis. I really enjoyed it and of course it was nice to have a little extra spending money. One day while babysitting, I had decided to make cookies with the kids. It was then that I came across the traditional flour sifter and OMG can I just say, LIFE CHANGING!! Simply place the dry ingredients in the canister, turn the crank and you will have perfectly sifted dry ingredients in seconds with no mess! I was so ecstatic with the discovery of this kitchen tool. So practical and made the baking process infinitely more enjoyable. I'm sure you can only guess what I received under the tree that year for Christmas.
9" Springform Pan
I think the springform pan often goes overlooked. Most people think that round baking pans serve the same purpose, so why create redundancies in your kitchen? Well, let me just say that there certainly is not a redundancy by adding a springform pan to your collection of baking equipment. The most common use for the springform pan is to make a classic cheesecake, but what has really sold me on the springform pan has been using it to bake coffee cakes! How many times have you gone to remove a coffee cake from a pan, flipped it over and lost 90 percent of the crumble topping in the process. Crumble is the best part of the coffee cake and seeing it go to waste is a tragedy! It wasn't until I tried my hand at making this Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake, that I learned about the brilliance of using a springform pan for coffee cake making. When the cake is done baking in the oven, allow to cool for 30 minutes and then pop the lock on the springform pan and gently remove the ring. All crumble still in tact means coffee cake perfection! This pan is a great investment and an essential for any kitchen.