“I usually use a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan at home.” Because many of the cake recipes in this book make two 9-inch cakes, you’ll need two pans when baking from it. You’ll need two 7-inch round cake pans if you want to make the chiffon cakes. Aluminum pans are my favorite. Springform pans are trendy, but I don’t like them because they’re more difficult to clean and aren’t actually essential. If you properly grease and flour a pan and allow it to cool, it will easily unmold.”
You’ll also need a Bundt or Bundt-style form if you want to make the Thanksgiving cake” (8 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep). Use a 13 by 9 by 2-inch-deep pan for square and rectangle cakes, and a 13 by 9 by 2-inch-deep pan for the Valentine’s Day Cake and Santa”
“You’ll need two heart-shaped molds for the Christmas cake.”
You’ll need two nonstick cupcake trays with 12 wells each to make cupcakes. If you only have nonstick cupcake pans, oil them before baking with butter, nonstick spray, or vegetable shortening.”
For icing and decorating cakes, a turntable is a must-have piece of equipments
I recommend having three different types of brushes in your kitchen.”
If you don’t have a water pen, use a pastry brush to apply syrups and other soaking liquids to sponge cakes, work with melted butter, and apply water to fondant. (A spray bottle or a squeeze bottle with a sponge tip applicator will also work.)
A bench brush is used to sweep flour from your work surface and has long, stiff bristles. I rarely see these in household kitchens, but I recommend getting one because it makes cleaning a lot easier.
For laying down sugar or cornstarch, use a large cosmetic brush, often known as a powder brush. When working with fondant, place it on your work surface. Use it to break up any lumps or clumps in the sugar or cornstarch on your work area or in the fondant.
“ZESTER OF MICRO PLANES”
We used to make our lemon zest at Carlo’s by rubbing lemons on one of those old-fashioned box graters. We didn’t know any better, and the now-familiar recipe warning not to shave off any bitter pith with your grater didn’t even cross our minds.” ” (We also had to throw out a batch every now and again when a guy grated a piece of his knuckle into the bowl with the rind!) Then the Microplane zester arrived. It was originally designed as a carpentry tool and is now a typical kitchen item. It has dozens of minirazors that turn lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits into a white zest.
Ceramic and glass mixing bowls are also good choices, but I prefer stainless steel for one simple reason: they don’t break if dropped. Get yourself a variety of mixing bowl sizes—in general, I prefer to use a large bowl for a given work because it prevents materials from splashing or flying out when you whisk and stir.
Keep some parchment paper on hand at all times: You’ll use it to line baking and cookie sheets for a variety of things, and I frequently use it to decorate pastries, pies, and cakes. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered why some recipes ask for parchment paper while others don’t, it’s usually always to keep the baked goods from adhering to the pan’s bottom. If you’re baking a high-fat batter, you can sometimes skip the patch since it will release just enough fat to keep itself from adhering. (I don’t use parchment in these circumstances in this book.) If you don’t have parchment paper, don’t use waxed paper in its place.
THE PASTRY BAG
One of the most vital equipment for a baker is the pastry bag. At Carlo’s and in this book, it is used for everything from piping out cookie dough to filling pastries to icing and decorating cakes.
Polyurethane, canvas, disposable, and improvised bags are the four basic types of bags. I don’t necessarily prefer one over the other; rather, I prefer different bags for certain tasks.
A canvas bag is the gold standard for piping cookie dough and thick, heavy mixes because of its resilience. You can truly squeeze it, applying as much pressure as you want or need without danger of it breaking.”
At least two racks should be available for chilling biscuits and pastries after baking.” (If you don’t have enough counter space or don’t want to put hot trays on it, cool the trays on top of the racks until the cookies are ready to transfer.) Racks come in a variety of sizes; I recommend having at least two nonstick racks, each measuring 17 by 12 inches, on the bigger end of the scale.”
Everyone in the kitchen at Carlo’s has their own take on rolling pins. Although there are only two types of pins (three if you count polyurethane), we take them as seriously as a hustler takes his pool stick. Both wooden and marble pins are acceptable; the overall weight and balance, rather than the material, are more significant. I use a straight wooden rolling pin to roll out cookie dough, pie crust, and raspberry bars. (In truth, I rolled those items with a broomstick, but that’s not something you want to try at home!) A wooden, steel, or marble pin with ball bearings can be used for heavier activities like rolling out rugelach, pasta frolla to stripe a wheat pie, or puff pastry dough.” Better is a wooden, steel, or marble pin with ball bearings that allow the cylinder to spin. Ball bearings assist a spinning pin in moving through denser dough. (However, I usually use a wooden pin here.) I’ve done it so many times now that I’m used to it.)
I prefer a polyurethane rolling pin for rolling fondant because it maintains a healthy neutral temperature and has a decent weight for pressing out the fondant, which can become uneven. You shouldn’t use wood for fondant because wooden rolling pins acquire little divots over time, which will be imprinted in the fondant.
Because some ingredients are calculated by weight rather than volume, I recommend investing in a kitchen scale if you don’t already have one.” Digital battery-powered scales cost under $20, and many are tiny enough to store in a drawer or cabinet when not in use.”
In a home kitchen, a rubber spatula may do most of the work that plastic scrapers do in a professional bakery, such as folding ingredients together and scraping mixes out of bowls or pots. However, I still advocate having a plastic scraper because a spatula pulls you away from the food you’re working with, and sometimes you want to feel more in control.”
We also use a metal scraper in our kitchen at Carlo’s to scrape our benches (wooden work tables), especially to remove caked-on flour.” However, I don’t recommend using this instrument at home because many kitchen surfaces are fragile or easily scratched.
A sifter is necessary for ensuring even distribution of leavening chemicals such as baking soda and baking powder, as well as loosening up compacted flour and other materials. If you don’t have a sifter and are eager to get started, pour the ingredients into a fine-mesh strainer and gently shake it over the bowl you’re sifting into, but the outcome will not be as fine.
The three varieties of spatulas recommended throughout this book are so dissimilar that calling them by the same name feels weird.””
Pancake spatula or cookie spatula: This is most likely the first spatula you’ve ever heard of, and it’s used to pull baked products from pans or turn cookies or pancakes while they cook. It’s also known as a “turner,” and it’s what we use to check the doneness of cookies and pastries as well as remove them out of their pans.” Spatula for icing: For icing cakes, many baking books recommend an offset spatula (also known as an angled spatula), but I prefer a plain old flat icing spatula.”Rubber or silicone spatula: This ubiquitous kitchen equipment is frequently used in baking, primarily to fold two ingredients together or scrape mixtures from bowls. It’s a good idea to have a set of spatulas that includes small, medium, and large sizes so that you can handle any job.”
There is really nothing better for mixing than a nice, strong stand mixer, which is essentially a miniature version of the gigantic industrial mixers we use at Carlo’s, if you can buy it and have the counter space for it. The paddle, whip, and hook accessories are required.”
“Many recipes can be made with a hand mixer if you don’t have a stand mixer.” It’s a tried-and-true tip that makes combining considerably easier than trying to mix with one hand while holding the bowl with the other, especially if you have to pour or drizzle liquids into the mixing bowl.
You can combine some of these recipes using just your hands. I’ll let you know when that’s the best option. Just make sure your hands are perfectly clean before you use them.”
A kitchen thermometer is the only way to check the temperature of batters and buttercream. I recommend that you take advantage of modern technology by purchasing an instant-read thermometer that provides you with accurate, digital data in a timely manner.
To ensure that you’re baking at the correct temperature, use an oven thermometer. Even if your oven reads right today, it might begin to run a bit hot or a little chilly over time. Place your oven thermometer on the same baking rack as you, which is nearly always the middle rack.”
In the kitchen, don’t rely on your memory; it’ll lead to disaster. (“Was it 5:45 or 5:54 when I placed the cake in the oven?”) Get yourself a timer. In particular, if you’re doing multiple things at once, I recommend using a timer with at least two clocks.
It’s a good idea to have both a large and a tiny whisk on hand for hand-beating different-sized mixes.
A wooden spoon or two should be part of any kitchen arsenal for stirring mixtures as they simmer.”