The Good Stuff

I’ll be honest, I’ve been slacking in the baking department. If it were up to me, I’d bake everyday, but I can’t. Between a full time job, plenty of finances to take care of (baking is expensive!) and a ton of other to-do’s, it’s not as easy as I would prefer. But if I can’t get around to baking, I can still think and talk about it.

So we’ve all got the point – I’m no pastry expert, but I think over the many years I’ve been in the kitchen, I’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge of what makes a kitchen work. If I were to have a list of top 5 kitchen-must-haves, then here’s what it would be:

  1. Kitchen Aid Mixer – I got one of these for my 18th birthday. I know, I know, they’re not cheap… but if you’ve got a little extra cash hanging around, or want to save up for one, I would highly recommend it. With one of these machines, baking becomes a lot easier AND it helps reach that next step of almost-perfection. Just imagine never having to worry about another batch of horrid, dense muffins. And not only does it perform like a champ, but the variety of colours are fun (mine is red!)
  2. Good quality vanilla extract – I cannot begin to stress the importance of quality vanilla. Please!! Avoid artificial by any means – if you’re a traveler, take it upon yourself to pick up a bottle from all of your destinations… Tahitian, Madagascar bourbon – it’s all good! Even better, try some vanilla bean paste, it will add those little tasty specks of vanilla bean throughout your baked goods.
  3. A sifter – I know that sifting flour and cocoa adds an extra step to the baking process but I am all for this one. Especially when you’re making cake batter/icings, it’s really important to avoid those lumps. That small extra step can make a huge difference in your end result.
  4. Baking pans – They really aren’t expensive and slowly collecting over time is always a good idea. Start with a traditional square or round cake pan and go from there. It also depends what you enjoy baking. If you like muffins I would highly recommend a muffin-top pan (greatest invention ever) If you’re an angel food/coffee cake person invest in bundts… and if you like to make cakes, start buying different sizes of spring form pans because they’re great for all sorts of desserts. There really is a pan for everything but if you’re just starting out, here’s a good list: 1 loaf pan, 2 large baking sheets, a pie dish, 9 x 13 square pan, muffin/cupcake pan and a 9 inch spring form pan.
  5. An assortment of recipe books – My first (legit) baking book was Anna Olson’s Sugar. Now you can barely read the pages because they’re covered in cookie dough and flour, but that’s not the point. Once you have a few decent cookbooks and easy go-to recipes, you can start to experiment. Toss in your own flavours, add and take out a few things – baking is a science but once you’re comfortable with the ingredients and understand their importance, there is nothing holding you back. I get all my greatest recipes and concoctions from other bakers but I always try and make it my own. There’s nothing better than treating friends and family to something sweet, but having part ownership of that recipe can be a proud moment.

Yesterday evening I made pie pops (again) for my work meeting today. I think they’ll be a hit!

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