Baking yummy and pretty pastries without it being too much of a hassle takes quality ingredients (but we’ll come back to that later) and the right tools.
I can’t stress enough how having the right utensils is important. We’ll start our list of “must-haves” with the mixer.
The stand mixer: a game-changer
With a stand mixer a lot of recipes become easier because you won’t need to knead or mix for a long period of time, the mixer does it for you. Second, it’s safer because the whisk is well inside the bowl (as long you don’t go and put your fingers in it as well!) and potential splashes are contained within the bowl (just pour liquid ingredients slowly and not all at once). Finally it will save you a loooot of time.
You can’t imagine how my life changed when I got my first Kitchenaid 7 years ago! Well, to be honest, that’s what made me decide to take the jump and become a professional baker. I was able to spend less time and energy baking more cakes! And because at the time it was hard to find good French cakes in Vancouver, I was making most of the pastries I ate 🙂
Here’s what I started with: Kitchenaid Classic 4.5-Quart
This is a great size if you’re just baking occasionally for yourself and your close family. I’ve used it quite intensively for 6 years and it’s still working fine although now it mostly sits on the counter! It comes with a flat beater (paddle), wire whisk and dough hook. You can make everything from cakes to kneading bread and you can also purchase attachments to grate cheese or veggies, make your own pasta, ice cream and more…
They also have it in different colors like blue (vintage look, isn’t it cute?), orange, red, black…
And then I also bought a larger one: Kitchenaid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart
I found that there were a lot of cakes or pastries that were perfectly fine in the freezer for a few weeks so it was just easier to make a large batch and freeze (raw dough or baked cake depending on the type of pastries) and enjoy a variety of treats to suit whatever cravings and moods I was having. Even when friends and family were coming over on a short notice I always had something ready for them that I had baked myself. That’s also when I started selling to friends and at farmers’ markets on the side.
Just like the 4.5-quart, it comes with a flat beater (paddle), wire whisk and dough hook.
Simple electric mixer
If you’re just starting up and not sure whether you want to spend money on a stand mixer, you must at least have an electric mixer with beaters. If you don’t, be prepared to use some elbow grease to blanch sugar and eggs, to whip up cream and good luck trying to make meringue 😉
You can probably find one as low at $20 but it’s better to spend a few extra dollars to get a variety of attachments (whisk, beaters, dough hook) and a more powerful motor that will last longer like the Oster 6-speed hand mixer or Chefman Turbopower.
Bear in mind though that they’re not as powerful as stand mixers and you won’t be able to achieve exactly the same results (or it will require more time and effort sometimes).
In my next post, I’ll tell you all about my next favourite tool: a digital scale; and why it’s important to invest in a reliable one!