Want to be a baker? Love to bake but always feel like you are missing something? It might be that you need the proper tools. A small spatula, pastry tips, and a scale make all the difference in the kitchen of baking. Here are a few tools I can't live without whenever I bake.
My scale and my measuring spoons. Scaling your recipe by weight can make the difference between a dry cake or a too salty muffin. I prefer digital scales because they are very accurate and can usually switch between pounds and kilos. Always a plus if you have a lot of European recipes. I love these measuring spoons because they are soft and can go in the dishwasher. Super bonus!
I like to have all my ingredients organized and ready to go, so I always use large plastic cambro tubs or tupperware to keep things tidy and easy to find. Nobody wants to run out of sugar because they couldn't see through their container. It really puts a damper on a batch of brownies.
Piping bags make decorating a breeze. Pipe swirls on a cake or a heaping swoosh on a cupcake and voila! Instant art. You can pick up piping bags at your local supermarket, craft store, or Wal-Mart (usually). I like the plastic disposable ones because you can wash them and use them a few times and they are more sanitary for the average home baker. If you buy a cloth bag, make sure you take really good care of it and clean it SUPER well. The pastry tips can be found at craft stores and kitchen stores. You really only need a basic star tip and a round tip to get started.
I can't forget my trusty mixer! This baby blue kitchen aid can whip up frosting and sponge cake lickety split! (I use it for mashed potatoes too, don't tell...) If you don't have a mixer, this is a great investment in your baking future. They make life simpler and baking faster. I have a 5 qt. mixer and it is usually the perfect size for home batches. If you have a big family or think you will be baking in larger size batches, you might want to check out the 6 qt bowl.
A cake stand is also a great "tool." Some people might not consider it a tool, but I use mine a lot for cake decorating or cupcake decorating. You can rotate it by hand when you are frosting a cake and it helps to raise the cake off the counter a bit when you are decorating. Then if I am just eating the cake myself, I can skip the cardboard under the cake and leave it right on the cake stand. Ready to cut and enjoy.
Invest in a good cookie scoop and lots of rubber spatulas too. Heaping cookies is fine, but it is a lot quicker and more consistent if you use a scooper. These can be found at cooking stores, grocery stores, and online. I have TONS of rubber spatulas. I always keep a few on hand when I am starting a new project in the kitchen. I love the bright colored ones or themed spatulas they sell around the Holidays. (tip: if you wait until after the Holidays, you can get great deals on themed baking tools!)
These are just a few of the tools I use the most when I am baking at home. I would also recommend a small offset spatula, bowl scraper, and a serrated cake knife. Start small and add to your tool collection slowly. Whenever I travel, I pick up my souvenirs in cooking stores along the way. A spatula from California, a knife from Germany, a scooper from Colorado. You get the idea.