Mixing Tools 🛠
Like I’ve said before, baking is a lot like cooking.
There are lot of basic tools that you’ll need to invest in, in order for you to be able to make your dessert. But, because of the overlap between all recipes, both sweet and savory, you might already own some of them. (Btw, savory means not sweet; like what you’d eat for lunch or dinner. Think salty or spicy.)
And, if you’ve ever baked before- either from scratch OR from a box mix- I’d put money on you already having the most important tools. 💲 Because when it comes to the mixing, (and I mean mixing anything– cookies, cakes, pies, breads) baking is all very similar.
Lastly, I just want to repeat the idea that you won’t need every item on this list to bake a yummy treat. Depending on the recipe you are making, the tools you’ll need will change. You might need a variety of different tools, or only one or two. It depends entirely on your recipe.
But, for the purpose of teaching you, I wanted to make a comprehensive list. One that included all of the tools you might ever stumble across in a cake recipe. This way, you could be prepared for anything.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the tools you’ll need to properly measure, mix, and prepare your cake batter.
All recipes depend on you adding exactly the right amounts of all the different ingredients. Baking is delicate and if you meddle with the ratio between ingredients… Well, that’s when things get yucky. 🤢 The best way to avoid this yuck-factor is by carefully measuring all your ingredients with measuring cups.
There are two different types of measuring cups.
One type is intended for dry ingredients, like flour and sugar. The other type is intended for wet ingredients, like water and oil. (If you want to see how to use them, check out the Beginner Basics Course. I made a video that walks you through it step by step.) That said, they hold the same amount of volume, so you can use them interchangeably. In recipes, you might see the word “cup” abbreviated down to just the letter “c.”
The same goes for measuring spoons. 🥄 You always want to add a precise amount of each ingredient- and measuring spoons are called in when those amounts are small. They’re commonly used to measure spices or flavor extracts- ingredients were a little bit goes a long ways. Unlike with measuring cups, measuring spoons are used for both wet and dry ingredients alike.
There are also two kinds. The largest is called a tablespoon. One size smaller than a tablespoon is called a teaspoon. And everything smaller than 1 teaspoon is just a fraction of a teaspoon- like 1/2 teaspoon or 1/4 teaspoon.
In recipes, you will almost always see them abbreviated. Tablespoon becomes tbsp. And teaspoon becomes tsp. (Occasionally the “t” in tablespoon will be capitalized, like this: Tbsp, to make it extra obvious which measuring spoon to use.)
Now, with measuring spoons, it can be useful to know some basic math. (Adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, and fractions, to be precise.)
Measuring spoons are perfectly divisible and multipliable with measuring cups and measuring spoons. And you can add or subtract these different fractions together to still come up with the right amount. So if you have 3 teaspoons, that’s equal to 1 tablespoon. And 4 tablespoons is equivalent to one 1/4 cup.
Or, if math isn’t your thing, think of it like Russian nesting dolls. 🪆
Imagine you have a 1/4 cup of sugar. Inside of that “big” measuring cup, 4 little tablespoons of sugar are hiding in plain sight. And if you upgrade to a 1/2 cup measuring cup, then you have 8 tablespoons living inside of that measuring cup!
Still confused? Just google search a conversion chart online. There are lots of resources that will straight up give you the answer, so you don’t have to do any math.
Now, why do you need to know this? Well, knowing all these numbers will end up being helpful if you ever want to double a recipe… Or, if your measuring cups are dirty and you don’t want to wash them. See? All that math, just so you wouldn’t have to wash your dirty dishes! 🤣 What are friends for, if not to help you procrastinate your kitchen chores?
Bowls are pretty basic, but I can’t overstate how important they are. You literally can’t mix all your ingredients together if you don’t have a bowl to put them in! Mixing bowls can be made of glass, metal, or plastic and they come in all different sizes.
In fact, I actually recommend you buy a variety of different sized bowls. Because sometimes you need a big bowl for mixing cake batter. And sometimes you need a little bowl for making a crumble topping. Having options will make your life easier. (Trust me on this.) For storage purposes I recommend nesting bowls, because they rest one inside of the other and tuck away into your pantry really easily. Sometimes, they even come with lids, which is a handy feature.
Now, I actually have an opinion on the material that your bowl is made of.
I prefer glass bowls, over metal or plastic, for two reasons. While both glass and metal bowls are heat resistant, only glass bowls are also microwavable. And by being the most versatile, I give them two thumbs up. 👍👍
Pyrex is a super famous brand of nesting, glass mixing bowls. I actually own this set. My brother got it for me as a Christmas present one year, because he knows the best way this girls heart is with cookware. Which is totally normal. Every woman wants four glass bowls (and lids to match) for the holidays… Right? Right? 😅
Hand Mixers and Stand Mixers:
Why are there two things listed together? Good question. I bundled them because they serve the same function- mixing your batter together for you. But they are two different machines.
Hand mixers cost less money to buy and, like the name says, are handheld. Stand mixers are bigger and they come with a special mixing bowl that fits right inside the machine. When you want to use it, you simply add your ingredients to that bowl, select your mixing speed, and walk away. The machine’s arm will mix your ingredients for you and you barely even have to pay attention.
Ok, that’s cool. 😎 But why is this important?
There are a whole bunch of different types of cakes. But they can all get divided into two cake categories (I’ll go into more details on these categories a little later). Now, when it comes to the first type of cake, you don’t need a mechanical mixer to make your cake batter. Although, with that said, using one does make your cake fluffier. ☁ However, for the second type of cake, owning a mixer is absolutely vital. If you can’t whip enough air into the cake batter, then these cakes will not come out right. Period.
Wait, slow down! Whip air into a cake? What does that even mean? How do you DO that? Do you need a bellows like a blacksmith? What is happening right now?! 😱
Calm down. Let me explain.
Whenever you mix your ingreidents together, you add some air to the batter. It just happens when you’re mixing. But the tool you use effects the amount of air you can mix in.
If you’re using a spoon and your muscles, 💪 you can fold in a little air into your cake batter. But if you use a mechanical mixer, you can beat a lot of air into the batter. Which makes for a light and fluffy cake. (The verb “to fold” just means gently mixing in. It’s a baking term that will be very helpful to know, since it comes up a lot.)
I literally didn’t own a rubber spatula until I started baking fulltime. I figured, why spend the money when I owned plenty of spoons? But now, I can’t imagine going back. I lived twenty years baking with a spoon and now I can’t recommend rubber spatula’s enough. They’re just so convenient!
Now, it is technically true that a spoon can do any and every task that a rubber spatula can do.
But you know that old tune that goes “anything you can do, I can do better?” Well, in this case, I wholeheartedly agree. Because, in my opinion, rubber spatulas “can do anything better than spoons.” 🎵😆 Ok. Enough with the musical interludes.
But in all seriousness, I do believe that rubber spatulas have an advantage.
Thanks to it’s wide, plastic end, it can mold to the shape of the bowl and scrape any unmixed ingredients back into the batter super efficiently. And the elastic bendiness of the spatula’s head also makes it extraordinarily adept at getting every last drop of batter into your cake pans at the end of the mixing process.
But let’s backup and talk about unmixed ingredients for a second.
Sometimes, when you combine your wet and dry ingredients together, your dry ingredients stick to the bottom of your bowl. Or they get clumped together. Simply scrape the bottom of the bowl to unstick them. Or squish them against the side of your mixing bowl to break up the biggest lumps. If you don’t do this, in the worst case scenario, there will be gross clumps of flour hiding in your dessert. And as soon as you bite into them, you’ll regret it.
But sometimes you notice too late. For example, if you don’t notice until you’re pouring your batter into their individual pans that there are ingredients stuck to the bottom of the bowl. In this instance, it’s actually better to just leave it where it is. Mixing them in at this point will be more trouble than it’s worth. In my opinion.
This why rubber spatulas are so valuable: because they make it easy to be successful. If money’s tight, a spoon will absolutely do the trick. But I am in love with my rubber spatulas. And I think you’ll be happy if you buy them too.
While aprons are optional, they can be useful.
Let’s say you’re beating butter for your cake batter and some flies off the mixer’s beater. If it lands on your lululemons, that grease stain could be there to stay. 😨
But aprons are pretty one dimensional. Protecting your clothes from potential stains is their one and only super power.
Double Broilers are a piece of kitchen equipment that helps melt things gradually. Now double broilers are referenced quiet a bit in recipes, so this is a term you’ll need to recognize. Typically, it’s used to melt chocolate or heat up heavy cream.
Now I don’t actually own a double broiler, because I have a really easy hack. And I don’t recommend that you buy a real double broiler.
All you really need is a saucepan of boiling hot water and a heat resistant bowl. (Heat resistant bowls are made of glass or metal. But they will have the words heat stamped onto the bottom of the bowl to help advice you. Or of course, when in doubt, just ask Google.) Once your saucepan of water is at a rolling boil (read: has lots of bubbles) set the heat resistant bowl over the top of the pan.
You want the bowl to be bigger than the mouth of the saucepan so that all of the steam coming from the saucepan is trapped underneath the bowl. This steam with evenly heat whatever you put inside of the bowl. This is useful to keep from accidently burning your ingredients. Or if your ingredients are especially temperature sensitive. (Eggs are one example where you have to treat them carefully.)
Did you get all that?
If you didn’t, reread it as needed. If you did, then let’s move from the countertop to the oven! 🔥⏲ Simply click on the Next Lesson button to keep the information flowing!