Kitchen Gadgets – Part 3

I think it’s pretty obvious that I love spending time in the kitchen, but baking has to be my favourite activity.  Yes, I enjoy cooking say a pie or rustling up a quick supper, but creating sweet goodies fills me with joy!  Living in India is great in many ways, however, there are days that can be very challenging!  On days like those, I find baking something can soothe and restore my happy mojo!  So, today in part three of my kitchen gadgets series, I’m sharing with you what I use for baking.

High on my list is either my KitchenAid or Magimix, which featured in part two of the kitchen gadgets series.  Then there are mixing bowls, spoons, whisks and spatulas that I shared in the first post.  And because baking is more a science than an art, I wouldn’t dream of making a cake without my trusty digital weighing scales and measuring spoons!

Today is all about the other paraphernalia I use when baking.  My collection of bakeware has been built-up over the years.  Where I purchased cheap tins that were thin, they’ve warped and have had to be replaced, since they weren’t conducting the heat evenly.  As I’ve been replacing my old tins with new, I’ve opted for mainly silicone ones for these reasons:

  1. They don’t need to be lined.  Just a smidge of butter wiped around does the trick.
  2. The material is flexible making them easier to store.
  3. They don’t break or bend when you drop them (always a good feature when in my hands!)
  4. They can pop in the dishwasher.
  5. They don’t rust.  Quite a few of my traditional tins have rusted.
  6. It’s easier to remove the cake or traybake from the “tin”.
  7. They are available in a much wider choice of shapes and sizes.

Most stores now sell silicone bakeware.  I think the majority of mine have come from John Lewis.

My collection of bakeware, is by no means the “must-have” list.  As I’ve said, I’ve built my collection up over many years, and as new recipes required different shapes or sizes, I have added to my collection.  If just starting out baking, I would suggest numbers 1 through to 5, are probably all you’ll need.

  1. Two 7” x 1½”  (18cm) or 8” x 1½” (20cm) round tins (or silicone).  This will allow you to make a huge variety of cakes.  The amount of mixture necessary for each size will be stated in the recipe.
  2. An 8″ x 8″ x 2″ (20cm x 20cm x 5cm) traybake tin, as I mentioned in the Chocolate Brownie post a few weeks ago.  It can be used for lots of different types of traybakes.  I have a recipe for a delicious one, which will be up on The Domestic Princess very soon!
  3. A 2lb (900g) loaf tin.  I tend to use this for loaf cakes, as opposed to bread, as I have the bread maker.
  4. A 12-hole bun tin for baking mini muffins, cupcakes or fairy cakes.  I love my silicone one.
  5. Two to three baking sheets or trays for making delicious cookies or biscuits.  I find the 14” (35cm) ones are perfect.  They need to be heavy, flat and rigid.  Oh, and make sure they fit in your oven!
  6. Deep round loose-bottomed 6” (15cm) cake tin.  I use this for making a small Christmas cake.
  7. Square loose-bottomed 7” (18cm) cake tin.  If I’m making a larger Christmas cake – this is my favourite tin to use.
  8. Spring-form 9″ (23cm) round cake tin.  This is great for making cheesecakes, as the metal release clip makes it super easy to remove the contents, with minimal risk of damaging it on the way out.
  9. Silicone baking sheet.  I use this when making biscuits or to roll out my pastry on.  I even use it for chocolate and sugar work and any burnt bits are easily removed.
  10. Silicone 6-hole muffin tin.  I don’t actually use these for making muffins, but for making giant, puffy Yorkshire puddings.  Maybe I’ll try muffins in them one day.
  11. Various shaped silicone cup cases:  rounds, rectangles and hearts etc.  My mood on the day determines which one I use!
  12. Selection of cookie cutters, including numbers, letters, hearts, 6 circular ones ranging from 2” to 4” that have a fluted side and a smooth one (I used the smallest one to make the Jam & Custard Cream Buttons), animals, gingerbread men, characters from fairy tales and Christmas themed ones.  I’m trying to replace my metal ones with plastic ones, as the metal ones are starting to rust.  Nowadays there is every imaginable shape available.
  13. 3½” x 1½” round cooking rings, which I use to make homemade crumpets, but they can also be used to make potato rosti, creating a perfect circle for presentation, or the larger size can be used to create a tower for a real wow factor!
  14. The last one in my cupboard for bakeware are my mini pudding moulds, which I use to make delicious (even if I say so myself!) hot chocolate fondants.  I have the 3” x 2” ones, which are the perfect size for individual puds!
  1. Thermometer.  I’ve recently been trying to make toffee, fudge and sweets – largely inspired by my Heston Blumenthal at Home book.  A thermometer is by no means a necessity, nor a showstopper if you want to make home-made candy.   However, I didn’t trust myself to use the “soft-ball” method, so decided to invest in a good thermometer and I’m super pleased I did!  Next on my list to try are marshmallows.
  2. It’s only recently that I’ve had a proper cake tester – previously using anything long and spiky available (normally the cheese fondue dipper or a chop stick!).  However, my gorgeous godson, Maxi, gave me this for Christmas, so now I have a proper utensil for quickly checking if my cakes are fully cooked.
  3. Rolling pin.  My version of this is probably controversial amongst the bakers out there, who advocate a wooden one without handles is best.  Why controversial?  Well, I have a stainless steel one, where you can add water to “the belly” of the rolling pin, which reduces the surface temperature, and helps to eliminate sticking.  A must-have tool for any baker living in a hot country!
  4. Baking beans (for blind baking).  Now, I can spend money like the best of them, but spending between £5 to £10 for a set of these when some dried chickpeas for 95p do the job just as well, just didn’t stack up!
  5. Sieves.  I’ve now built my collection up to around 3 of various different sizes, for different tasks.  However, I still have “sieve envy” when I’m around the lovely Alice’s house, as her collection must extend to at least 10, which all sit neatly inside each other!  In addition to sifting flour, I also use them to make super smooth soup and for removing seeds from a raspberry puree.  I’ve recently upgraded my sieves to strong stainless steel ones, to replace the misshapen wire ones.
  6. Cooling rack.  For sometime I used the rack from our grill pan, until one day I needed to use the grill whilst my cake was still cooling, so decided to finally buy one!  This is essential for all bakers if you want to avoid soggy cakes or cookies from the steam trapped under them when left to cool on a flat surface.
  1. Piping bag.  Before going on my cupcake-decorating afternoon that was part of my fantastic hen party, I used to use a traditional nylon-piping bag for icing.  However, after a few fabulous hours of trying to master icing cupcakes, my eyes were opened to the joy and ease of disposable icing bags.  They’re strong and can be cut to fit any size nozzle.  Plus, I no longer have icing all over my hands from the leaking seams on my old nylon one.  There’s no going back for me now!
  2. Icing nozzles.  I’ve got a collection of icing nozzles, but I think my favourite ones are the star and rose tips.  On my next trip abck to the UK, I’ll be looking to buy plastic ones, as the metal ones are starting to rust.
  3. Palette knife.  This is brilliant when icing cakes and needing to spread and smooth the icing over and around the cake.  Make sure it’s very pliable to get the most out of it.
  4. Decorating pen.  This is a new gadget in my kitchen, and is yet to be used.  But, I can see it becoming a firm favourite!
  5. Cupcake corer.  This is a great nifty gadget for creating a little surprise in cupcakes.  You simply press the corer into the cupcake, twist and remove the centre, and then fill the hole with either a different flavoured icing, or a surprise of some sort!  Maltesers are always very popular!

So, has this list got you wanting to bake-up a storm?  Do you love baking?  And what’s your favourite baking recipe?

With much love

The Domestic Princess


Kitchen Gadgets – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my love of kitchen paraphernalia and opened up my cupboards on the basic essentials and nice-to-have items in my kitchen.  This week I’m sharing with you my Electrical gadgets, amongst which are some of my favourites!  If I had a bigger kitchen (one day!), I’m sure this list would be far, far more extensive than it already is.  So, barring number 1, this list isn’t in any particular order.

1.  Without doubt, my most treasured and loved electrical item, is my beloved KitchenAid Artisan Standmixer.  The Domestic King was extremely generous about five Christmases ago and bought me this, since I’d been wanting one for a very long time.  I use it for whizzing up Yorkshire puddings, making voluminous pavalovas, or just creaming together some butter and sugar for a batch of Soft Chewy Gingerbread Cookies.  It makes baking so much quicker and easier.  It comes in a choice of 26 colours, a wire whisk, a flat beater, a 4.83L polished steel bowl or a 4.83L glass bowl, a dough hook and a pouring shield.  It also has a range of optional accessories, such as:  an ice cream maker, food grinder, pasta maker, flex edge beater, (which I’ve recently bought and can confirm it’s great!), a sausage stuffer, a citrus juicer, and a rotator vegetable slicer and shredder, to name but a few!  The KitchenAid Standmixer is pricey, but I can honestly say I’ve more than had my money’s worth from it.  It gets used probably 2-3 times a week.  My lovely friend Sarah has the Kenwood Standmixer and is just as enamoured with hers, as I am with mine.

2.  Another loved item is my KitchenAid Artisan Blender (no, this isn’t a post sponsored by KitchenAid, I promise!).  We bought this to bring to India with us and just like the Standmixer, it gets used a lot.  I use it daily to make either smoothies or protein shakes for breakfast, it makes perfect frozen margaritas, and I use it weekly when liquidizing soup.  A few friends have told me that it’s great for pureeing baby food too.  It really is a fantastic device and well worth the investment.  I chose this one, as it was a Which? “Best Buy” and it matched the KitchenAid Standmixer and the rest of our kitchen in London.

3.  Magimix Compact 3200 food processor is a great addition to my kitchen gadgets and I’ll be honest, it’s only within the last year that we’ve actually started to use it to its full potential!  We went for the 3200 Compact model, as it’s just the two of us, but there are bigger models for larger families:  the 4200 and 5200, and if space is a premium in your kitchen, they now offer Le Mini Plus.  The Magimix allows you very easily, to slice, grate, whizz up a cake batter, make delicious short-crust pastry, and if you purchase the additional blades, make purees, mash, smoothies and julienne vegetables.  I commonly use mine for making homemade mayonnaise, short-crust pastry, slicing potatoes for dauphinoise potatoes and grating cheese.  It’s a great timesaving gadget.

4.  Sometimes I don’t need to (or want to) use the Magimix or KitchenAid Blender for pureeing or whisking, so I bought something to use on those occasions, which is my Dualit Handblender.  It comes with various attachments, is dishwasher safe and lets me puree, chop or beat in next to no time.

5.  Breadmaker.  This was another purchase ahead of our expat assignment in India.  When we moved here 4 years ago, delicious, good quality and most importantly, tasty, low sugar bread, was non-existent.  So on the advice of the lovely Alice, we purchased one and boy, are we glad we did!  I don’t think anything can beat bacon sarnies made with delicious homemade bread!  We simply pop the yeast, flour, butter, water, a tiny amount of sugar and salt into the bread pan, set the program and voila, two hours later we have a delicious, crusty loaf of bread.  It has many features that allows you to bake cakes, different types of bread, add extra ingredients such as nuts and dried fruit, or even make the dough for pizza, rolls, buns, French sticks or brioche.  All you need to do is put the dough in the oven to cook.  You can also use the delay-timer feature, so you wake-up to the smell of freshly made bread – yum!  It is very cost effective – a medium white loaf works out about half the price of a commercially produced one.

6.  Talking of bread leads me nicely onto another one of my gadgets: our toasted sandwich maker.  Whilst not as frequently used as it once was (carbs are not our friend!), we still use it occasionally and both love the delicious toasties that it makes!  My favourite fillings are either ham and cheese, or chunky chicken in a white sauce.  The Domestic Prince also loves a ham and cheese toastie, or his latest favourite is cheese and pickle!

7.  One item that I couldn’t do without is my electric weighing scales.  I believe baking is more a science than an art, so I love how it allows me to measure my ingredients extremely precisely, ensuring that my ingredients are not one gram out (slightly anal I know!).  You can measure both liquid and dry ingredients and have the option of working in imperial or metric.

8.  Coffee maker.  Now, this is not my gadget, but the Domestic Prince’s, but since it is frequently used and brings him so much pleasure, I thought I’d include it!  The Domestic Prince loves a latte or cappuccino, so when renovating our kitchen in London, we had a built-in coffee machine installed as part of the design.  When we learned of our move to India, the Domestic Prince was really concerned about where he was going to get his daily coffee fix from!  To keep him happy, I did some research for alternatives and settled upon a Nespresso one, mainly because we could take a vast supply of coffee pods with us, and knew we’d be able to stock-up easily.  I can confidently speak on behalf of the Domestic Prince and say he is thrilled with the machine and it gets plenty of use.  We recently purchased an Aeroccino and now our lattes and cappuccinos can rival any coffee bar!

9.  Another purchase ahead of our move to India was a juicer.  We both love freshly squeezed juices and again weren’t sure we’d be able to get them in India.  After consulting Which? again, we opted for the Phillips one.  In under a minute you can have a delicious, freshly squeezed juice.  My favourite is plain orange, but you can use pretty much any fruit or vegetable you like.  The Domestic Prince is partial to an apple, carrot and ginger one.  And the best thing about the juicer?  You don’t need to peel any of the fruit or veg!

10.  Ice cream maker.  I know you don’t need an ice cream maker to make homemade ice cream, but I find when I make it the traditional way I end up with lots of crunchy crystals in it.  I read that making it in an ice cream maker solves this problem and I can confirm it does.  As a gadget I wasn’t going to use very often, I went for a relatively cheap model.  Whilst it’s great and produces fabulous ice creams, you do need to think ahead, because the bowl needs to be chilled for 10 hours beforehand.  After that you have delicious, creamy ice cream in around 20 to 30 minutes.  The (much) more expensive version has a built-in freezer, allowing more spontaneity in your ice cream or sorbet making!  Look out for a post in the coming weeks for one of my favourite ice cream flavours.

I’m aware that I have quite a number of electrical kitchen gadgets, but the majority get used weekly, if not daily, I promise!  I’d love to hear about your favourite electrical kitchen gadgets – do tell!

With much love

The Domestic Princess


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