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Here's what you can make in the oven and what type of bakeware you need to create it.
There are so many different things to bake that special bakeware supplies and tools are sometimes needed. Here's a listing of the top five bakeware necessities, what they do and some tips for use.
1. Free-standing mixer. You need this to handle lots of different recipe additions, whipping egg whites to meringue, whipping cream for frostings and mixing cake batter whether from a box or from scratch. Gift tip: A good quality freestanding mixer, like one from Kitchenaid, will probably last a bride her entire life!
2. Set of three mixing bowls: While your free-standing mixer will probably come in a set that includes at least one bowl, you'll need three more if you're an avid baker. The different sizes are for different functions. A medium bowl serves for sifting and holding the dry ingredients separately. The large bowl usually functions as the main mixing bowl, as well as for whipping certain ingredients or holding the wet ingredients separately. The smallest bowl is for adding any final ingredients or performing a certain task like separating egg yolks or mixing up herbs to add later. These bowls can be glass, like Pyrex bakeware bowls, or stainless steel bakeware. Some even feature handles and spouts. Gift tip: some cooks like to display these bowls in their decorated kitchen, so consider them a great-looking gift if you find special ones on the registry list.
3. Sifter: This important tool is used to fluff up and mix the dry ingredients, as well as strain out any impurities. Baking tip: If you skip this important step, cakes may not turn out as light and fluffy as they could be.
4. Rolling pin: A high-quality, good old-fashioned wooden rolling pin is a necessity for home-made biscuits, pizza dough, Christmas sugar cookies, pie dough and more. No two wooden rolling pins are alike because they are each crafted from different pieces of wood. Other rolling pin materials are stainless steel and marble. Care tip: Before rolling, always coat with flour. To clean a wooden pin, never submerge in water, just rub dough off and store in a cool, dry place.
5. A large board for rolling out dough for pizza, biscuits, cookies and pies. Choices of materials include: wood, collapsible plastic, marble and commercial-grade polypropelene. Easy-care tip: a commercial-grade cutting board made of thick, non-porous, odor-resistant, anti-microbial polypropelene is easy to wash in the dishwasher, removing the fear of left-over bacteria.
Measuring tools may be small in relation to all bakeware pans, but without them, trying to bake is useless! Since successful baking depends on following recipes exactly, you'll need a quality set of measuring tools to do the job. Measuring for successful baking is as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Use a glass measuring cup with a spout for measuring and pouring the liquid ingredients. Pyrex bakeware is one brand that's been around since the mid-20th century and still remains a staple today. A glass, 4-cup measuring cup is ideal because it can take the heat, it's easy to see and is sturdy enough to handle four cups of water which may cause a plastic measuring cup to feel flimsy. Look for a cup that displays both metric and U.S. measurements. Hot liquids tip: Place a metal spoon in the glass cup to absorb the heat from the liquid so glass won't crack under pressure.
2. Invest in a stainless steel set of measuring cups for measuring dry ingredients. Stainless steel is easy to keep looking clean and has easy-to-read measurements, whereas plastic measurements can rub-off or blend in. Glass measuring cups can chip too easily against other containers when scooping dry ingredients. They can also become damaged in the sink because they are small and hard to see in a loaded sink. Shopping tip: Choose a set that separates enough to easily scoop ingredients from the storage jar.
3. Always keep a stainless steel set of measuring spoons. This is essential for following recipes exactly. Shopping tip: Get one that includes “dash” and “pinch.” Until you are an experienced cook to know how much those measurements are, having the spoon for it can be handy because classic cookbooks will very often call for a “dash” of this or a “pinch” of that.
Not every cook loves to bake, but if you do or know someone who does, there are some additional kitchen bakeware must-haves. A special note about all bakeware materials: Shiny, metal baking pans deflect heat away from the ingredients in the dish whereas dark metal, coated or glass bakeware and ceramic bakeware dishes catch and hold the heat more, so you'll need to reduce oven temperatures by 25 degrees to adjust for any of these newer types of bakeware supplies.
• A springform pan: A cheesecake necessity because it releases delicate forms from the bottom and sides of the pan via the opening clasp on the side of the metal pan. These pans need to be lined and greased for a great results, regardless of the material chosen. Now, there's even a mini-cheese cake pan with removable bottoms (looks like a muffin tin, but the bottoms come out!)
• A quiche pan: Even though you can bake a quiche in a pie dish or pan, cooks who love quiche like the special fluted shape of a metal quiche pan. They swear it supports the delicate pastry shell better and yields a flakier result than the angled glass pie dish. Some quiche pans have a removable base that lifts out for easier serving.
• A muffin tin: Only necessary if you love trying different muffin recipes and baking muffins regularly, otherwise muffin bakeware can take up space in your baking cabinet. Quick baking tip: These are also handy for baking mini-quiches!
• Ramekins: This is a set of small ceramic baking dishes for baking individual servings of souffles and baked dessert custards. They can be taken straight from the oven to the table.
• A pizza stone: This is a round stoneware item that conducts heat in a certain way to provide for crispy pizza crust. For pizza-baking aficionados, this is a must-have along with a pizza spatula and slicer, of course!
If you love to bake, you'll have fun investing in quality kitchen bakeware for creating all your goodies! Even if you don't love to bake, there are some necessities all cooks need in the kitchen. You'll find these basics at the top of many bride's registry lists as she attempts to build her kitchen. To give a really great gift, look for these basic bakeware supplies from brands like Kitchenaid, Calphalon and Pyrex or try to match the finish of the cookware with the bride's colors in her home.
• Glass baking dishes: A necessity for making lasagnas and zitis, bread puddings and baked dinners of all types. These dishes are rectangular and come in 8”x10” or 9”x13” sizes. This is also your basic brownie pan. A smaller, square baking dish is useful for smaller portions of the above uses, as well as small cake recipes like banana or rhubarb cake. Some baked dips can also be created in this glass bakeware dish.
• Round layer cake pans or a sheet cake pan: This will usually be aluminum or a dark non-stick bakeware coating. You'll need two of these if you like to make cakes, even from a mix!
• Glass pie dish: A staple for Thanksgiving baking! Some cooks swear by a metal pie pan for crispier pastry, but it's your choice.
• Loaf pan: Choose from glass, metal or non-stick metal. You'll need this loaf pan for making quick breads and meat loaf.
• Cookie sheet: The basic for baking cookies. Buy the largest one that will fit your oven. Choose a sturdy, flat sheet. Shopping tip: Look for new silicone, flexible bakeware with sturdy metal handles by Calphalon bakeware. You'll need silicone baking utensils to go with it!
• Cooling rack: A must for anything you bake because cakes always need to be cooled before they are frosted and cookies need to cool before you eat them!
Ramekins are standard in the line-up of ceramic bakeware. But they have more uses than just cooking custards and individual casseroles. Their high thermal shock resistance means you can store food in them and move them from freezer to microwave or oven. They're also great for serving side dishes such as coleslaw and even nuts or dips.
Owning top-of-the-line bakeware doesn't mean much if you don't have some useful tips on how to use it. For example, to prevent cheesecake from splitting during the cooking period, butter the sides of the pan. When the cheesecake cools, the cake is then able to release from the pan and let heat escape without splitting. If you are using a crust, only butter an inch up the side of the pan so the cake can release.
Introduce your children to cooking and baking with flexible cookware. There are specially sets just for kids that include commercial-grade silicone bakeware in bright colors. Included in a typical set is a wooden rolling pin, wooden spoon, recipe and instruction booklet, four cookie cutters and four baking molds (such as Christmas tree, Round Cake Pan, etc.). Each of the molds has a non-stick finish and a temperature range that reaches to 428 degrees Fahrenheit. The flexible silicone bakeware causes even browning, quick cooling, and easy removal of your baked goods. Plus, the molds clean easily with a wipe-down or by placing them in the dishwasher.
Coatings on bakeware are only good for one thing: easier cleaning. Professional bakeware usually is usually shiny and uncoated, but there is also dark-coated bakeware on the market today. The shiny uncoated bakeware helps to reflect heat around your baked goods, which creates light golden browning. Dark, coated bakeware tends to absorb heat in the pan itself, which is why the bottoms of cookies are often blackened while the tops are not even browning. The coating on coated bakeware inevitably wears off, and some can actually release fumes.
Every cook needs to have some additional bakeware supplies for roasting meats or baking everyday dinners, like roast chicken, as well as for special occasions, like Thanksgiving! Here are some other great bakeware supplies for getting the most out of oven-cooking:
• A great-roasting pan: A staple in every cook's kitchen, choose gleaming stainless steel from All-Clad, long-lasting hard-anodized aluminum from Calphalon One, great-looking classics in enameled cast-iron from colorful Le Creuset and non-stick from ScanPan. Gift tip: Get one for a bride that matches her cookware materials. If you know she likes to decorate with her cookware, then go colorful!
• A meat thermometer: Classic dial read-out or the newest digital-read thermometers are a necessity for perfect roasting success. The same basic rules apply no matter which type you choose: Insert the thermometer probe down to the thickest part of the meat. If the gauge is attached to the base of the probe, insert it at the time of cooking. For poultry, cook to a temperature of 185 degrees F.; for beef cooked medium, roast to a temperature of 160 degrees F.
• A kitchen timer: A basic in every kitchen, the newest timers match kitchen appliance decors so they look great on the counter top or stove. Look for black, white and stainless steel.
• A dutch oven: The perfect casserole dish for one-dish dinners: Choose clear glass from Pyrex or classic, fluted white ceramic by Apilco. Match a hard-anodized aluminum dutch oven to cookware by Calphalon One. Cast iron is a classic choice or go colorful with Le Creuset enameled cast-iron. Cookware tip: You can tell it's a dutch oven because it always comes with a tight-fitting matching lid!
• A proper set of potholders: Often overlooked, but you can't stick your hands in the oven without them, pot holders should always be high enough on the arms to avoid burning forearms. They should contain many layers of flame-resistant material to protect skin from heat. New pot holder materials include silicone (in great colors) and suede.
Like cookware, bakeware comes in many different materials these days. Here's a primer of the differences between them, along with some cleaning tips!
• Non-stick bakeware. These will all come with a non-stick coating that provides for easy clean-up with just soap and water. Be sure to dry thoroughly. Care tip: Never spray these coatings with non-stick spray as they can become lodged in the porous surfaces and create a residue. Also, you'll need to use silicone or wooden utensils for removing food.
• Cast iron bakeware. This includes dutch ovens for baking casseroles and some classic biscuit pans for creating just the perfect biscuit: crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. Look for cast-iron bakeware that has been pre-seasoned! Cooking tip: a cast-iron skillet can double as a frittata pan because it goes easily from stove to oven.
• Flexible Bakeware: These collections are made from shiny silicone so they are naturally non-stick. Removal of foods is a snap due to the flexibility and surface of the container. Care tip: This new bakeware is oven-safe, freezer-safe, dishwasher-safe and microwave-ready. What could be easier? Although, you'll need silicone utensils to go with them.
• Ceramic bakeware: A few pieces of these are a necessity for cooking casseroles and baked meals, plus they come in great colors for fun kitchen decorating. Care tip: Be careful during the clean-up as glass, ceramic and enameled cast-iron can easily be chipped.
• Stainless steel bakeware: Cookie pans, sifters, rolling pins, cookie and biscuit cutters and more. Care tip: Easy soap and water cleanup, but be sure to dry thoroughly to avoid water spots and stains.
What are the benefits of stainless steel bakeware? First of all, as the name suggests, stainless steel cleans quite easily. It's reliable, sturdy, and generally not too expensive. Since stainless steel alone is not the best conductor of heat, the steel is sometimes enhanced by bonding it with a layer or two of a more highly conductive metal: copper, aluminum, or tin.