Are good tools really important? Do they make a difference? You betcha! This doesn't mean that you have to run out and buy expensive new baking tools. There are some essentials that you need, sure, but you need to know the ones you have and how they work.
You will be aware that, for a big birthday a while ago, I got a wonderful Kenwood mixer. I was in love and I thought that all my prayers had been answered. Actually, I was right - this wonderful machine does make my life much easier, especially when making perfect pavlova. However, I found out this week that there can be some drawbacks to having the most efficient tools.
Now, don't get me wrong - I'm absolutely not complaining. I just now know something about my Kenwood that I didn't. Soooo - this got me thinking about the tools in my kitchen and how they affect my baking.
Firstly, let me tell you about the Kenwood and why I came to this conclusion. Earlier this week I posted my Gluten Free Victoria Sponge recipe. Well, I have a confession to make - this was attempt number three. Yes, that's right, it's a super easy recipe but I managed to screw it up twice before I got a good one. Of course, I'm not one to be beaten in the kitchen so I knuckled down and figured it out. Turns out my Kenwood was being too efficient. While I thought that beating my sponge to within an inch of it's life was a good thing, it wasn't. There's such a thing as too much beating - who knew? On my third attempt I used my good old handheld beater and guess what, it came out perfectly.
So anyway, back to the tools:
It's important that you know that your cup measure is exactly 250mls and your teaspoon measures exactly 5mls - I could go on. If you don't know your tools, you will not get the best results - it's as simple as that.
What do I choose? Well, I really love my aluminium baking tins that I bought in Canada. I've managed to buy some of these at Spotlight here too. I've also inherited some great baking tins from my Mum. Second hand dealers and charity shops are a great way to buy good quality old bakeware for a really reasonable price. The test, I guess, is that they have some weight to them and are not likely to buckle when they get hot.
I have issues with my oven - sometimes it cooks hotter than expected and sometimes it cooks cooler than expected so I've taken to using a thermometer to test the temperature before I put my food in. You may think that this is a bit extreme but it does make a difference. Since moving to this house I've had more disasters than usual so I have taken on this practice. It works for me.
Good tools can be expensive and my advice here is to buy the best you can afford but do your homework. More money does not necessarily mean better. For example, over the years I've spent a fortune on non-stick cookware (saucepans and frypans) with the most impressive guarantees, but they all have scratched and become pretty useless. I've also discovered that lots of these companies do not honour these wonderful guarantees.
All I can say is research, research, research!
Once you buy your tools, try them out and learn how they work. For example, when you make a new recipe, and perhaps it doesn't work out just how you expect, think not only about your ingredients (although that's important) but also about your tools.
My husband says that "a good tradesman doesn't blame his tools". He had to eat those words (and the two cake disasters) after seeing that the tools do make a difference when it comes to baking!
So, are you excited about Easter? I'm going to be posting tomorrow about the Hot Cross Buns I've made but in the meantime, here's the link to my recipe.