Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Essential Baking Tools

Wow time sure does fly!! It feels like just last week that I was celebrating the holidays and sharing lots of laughs with my family... I truly cannot believe that it is February already!

First, I would really like to take a moment to thank all of my wonderful customers who kept me busy during the past few months! Although it was stressful at times, it always brought me such joy to see the final product and see how people's faces lit up!! :)  Now I will attempt to get back into my blogging, but it is tax season and I have been really busy at work these days.  But I will do my very best to keep updating.


I would officially like to welcome in the new year 2012! You may all be thinking that I am late, but honestly I'm not... you see my family celebrates the Lunar New Year (aka Tet if you are Vietnamese)!  My dad is still celebrating the new year and going to various Tet festivals around town, so as you can see I am right on time, Happy New Year of the Dragon! To kick off this new year, I wanted to share with you all my essential baking tools.


Just before the holiday break, my company sent me to Washington, DC for a national developmental training program which focused on soft skills.  On the last day of the conference, we had 30 minutes to prepare a 15 minute presentation complete with a visual aid and everything.  This was a lot of pressure for me because I already get so nervous giving presentations! I honestly spent at least 10 minutes just running circles in my brain about what I could talk about for 15 minutes to a huge crowd of people.  Then I realized that I LOVE baking so I should be able to talk about that... but then what about baking?!?!! My first idea was a recipe, but then I couldn't for the life of me remember any recipes off the top of my head, darn! At this point I am really starting to panic because I have less than 15 minutes to prepare my speech.

FINALLY, I thought of essential baking tools!  I figured that my audience was not a huge crowd of baking enthusiasts like myself, so keeping things basic was the way to go! Luckily, thinking of my most essential baking tools was a cinch :) I quickly put my drawing skills to use and put together this lovely visual aid!  Then it was time to jot down some talking points about each tool, and I was ready for my speech in the nick of time!! Phew!

(1) Portion Scoops
(2) Piping Bags
(3) SilPat
(4) Stand Mixer

Now let me tell you WHY these are MY essential baking tools. All bakers sing their own tune and we all have different styles for doing all the same thing.  These are my baking essentials.


(1) The wonderful wonderful portion scoop, oh how I love thee! You can get these scoops is various sizes to fit ANY need, literally!  I use them to make cake balls, cupcakes (both mini and regular), cookies, muffins, truffles, etc! These things really are amazing and it allows me to consistently get uniform batches of goodies.  These can also be used for other kitchen purposes outside of baking, such as meatballs, mashed potatoes, ice cream, etc.

(2) Piping Bags are another very versatile product I use regularly in baking. Nearly anything I bake involves the use of piping bags.  You can use them to drizzle chocolate over cake balls, frost cupcakes, decorate cakes, decorate sugar cookies, and so much more!! Because I use these on a regular basis I have found that Amazon.com has the best price for me, since I have a Prime account.  I order these all the time and they do NOT have the text written all over like the picture.  I also like how they are shipped laying flat, versus the Wilton 100 pack which is rolled up.  Lately, I have also discovered the wonderful 18" piping bags which I use when making French Macarons.

(3) SilPat baking mats are also very useful while baking, especially cookies! The only way I could think of showing the SilPat at its finest is in the oven with some cookies, since of course that is why they are so great!  Nonstick baking mat that can withstand very high heat and allows the cookies to slide right off!  Literally, NOTHING sticks to these bad boys, hard melted cheese, no problem, burned anything, no problem.  As much as I love my SilPats, because of  my crazy holiday season of baking, I have a new found love for Parchment Sheets!!! <3 These are just as good as my SilPat but they are disposable! So when I have a lot on my plate and just don't want to worry about washing anymore dishes, than parchment is the way to go.  Keep in mind, we do NOT have a dishwasher so cleaning up after a large order can really put a girl down.

(4) My fantastic KitchenAid Stand Mixer was my reward for completing Grad School and getting my CPA, totally worth it!  Of course, I had to go with the Professional 600 Series :D I really want to stress that I only put a stand mixer on my list because I love it so much, hehe.  It is most definitely NOT a necessity to be a successful baker.  I did however, find it to be a vital part in my chaotic holiday baking, mostly because of the volume I was cranking out. This wonderful stand mixer has a 14 cup flour power motor, which in baking terms means about 7 batches of cookies all in one go! When producing a high volume of baked goods, this beauty really does take the stress down a notch.  But honestly when I am just working with a small batch, I prefer the good ole hand mixer. It really comes down to an equation of easy to clean versus pure quantity.  For 7 batches of cookies, cleaning the big ole stand mixer is totally worth it, but for 24 cupcakes I would rather just clean the beaters on my hand mixer. Get my drift?

Phew what a long post, but let's just say I'm making up for lost time ;p And hopefully it was informative! :) If you know a baker in your life and they don't have one of these items, then be a doll and buy them a "just because" gift! Sometimes you can just never have enough portion scoops!

Happy Baking!

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