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21 Kitchen Essentials You Need to Bake (Almost) Anything

From "need to have" to "nice to have."
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It's no secret that I love to bake. Even the simple act of pulling out flour to create a mise en place of chocolate chip cookie ingredients, before the entire house fills with the warm smell of sugar and butter, sets my mind at ease. It's amazing I haven't already written a post on my essentials for baking anything, but better late than never. Below are 21 essentials you need to bake almost anything:

Rimmed ($15) and Flat Baking Sheets ($13): Based on what you're baking, it's good to have both rimmed and flat baking sheets on hand. I once read that baking sheets are worse for cookies, based on how the heat hits, so you'll get more consistent results using a rimless sheet (also called "cookie sheets"). We often use our rimmed baking sheet for things that get messy: Underneath a berry pie to catch the juices, or for roasting vegetables when we're going savory.

Glass Pie Dish ($7): People are highly opinionated when it comes to pie dishes. My mom loves an aluminum dish, for its heat distribution, but when I took a pie baking class years ago, I was told to always use glass so you can see the bottom of the dish. If you're doing a blind bake, you want to make sure the crust bakes evenly, and that the bottom is slightly golden. If it's wet and pasty, it hasn't baked long enough. One of the tricky things about pie is that you can't taste it as you go, so anything that allows you to check it is helpful.

9x2-Inch Cake Rounds ($9 each): The vast majority of cake recipes I follow call for 9x2-inch cake pans. I recommend owning at least two, to allow for recipes that call for more than two layers. Plus, they don't take up much more room since they're stackable. Here's a recipe for my favorite classic birthday cake and chocolate cake!

2-Inch Cookie Scoop ($15): This is ideal for everything from getting great scoops of ice cream (because it has the release lever, which is game-changing), to getting perfectly consistent scoops of cookie dough. This is key not only because they look beautiful, but because it ensures they'll all bake evenly. 

A set of Dry Measuring Cups ($21), Spoons ($11), and Liquid Measuring Cup ($5): These should go without saying!

Set of Glass Mixing Bowls ($25): My mom hates our mixing bowls because they're so heavy, but I love that they're hefty enough that they stay put when you're whisking something on the countertop. I also appreciate that they're glass, so you can see if there are bits of flour on the bottom that need to be incorporated.

Whisk ($5), Wooden Spoon ($7), Rubber Spatulas ($5): Also go without saying!

Pre-Cut Parchment Paper Sheets ($4): These sheets are certainly not a necessity, but as someone who photographs cookies as part of her job, the idea of wrestling with the parchment paper each time, is almost unappealing enough for me to not bake at all. I also have these in the round version for lining my cake pan.

Kitchen Aid Mixer ($430): This is the biggest workhorse in our kitchen when it comes to baking. I reach for it probably twice a week (when we have a functional kitchen) for cookie dough, pizza dough, homemade whipped cream, and frosting. Most of these things can be done with a hand mixer, but if you bake regularly, a stand mixer is well worth the investment.

Breville Hand Mixer ($130): I love having this hand mixer on hand for smaller baking projects—and that this mixer has a stopwatch on it, so it'll tell you exactly how long it's going for. This comes in handy, for recipes that say "Mix butter for 5 minutes." It also has a spotlight, which feels a bit unnecessary, but nice to have?

Small Cuisinart Mixer ($50): My mom has always made her pie dough by hand, but I prefer to run mine through our Cuisinart, which is a bit more foolproof. 

Classic Wood Rolling Pin ($16) with Cover ($7): I can always count on my mom placing a pastry cloth cover for my rolling pin in my stocking each Christmas, which she swears by for keeping the pin from sticking to the dough. 

Pastry Scraper ($11): Makes handling dough, and moving it off of your countertop, much easier. 

Holiday Spatulas (price varies): I love to have holiday-themed spatulas for Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine's Day which makes baking around those holidays just feel that much more special. I just realized I don't have a Thanksgiving spatula in my life, and I need one! I usually buy mine from William Sonoma, in store. 

Offset Spatula (price varies depending on size): These are so helpful to have on hand for frosting and serving cakes.

P.S., Here are 25 shelf-stable pantry ingredients to keep on hand for baking!

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