The most comprehensive list of the top 15 cake baking tools to get you started.
There are so many cake baking tools and products out there it will make your head spin. Yes, I know – simma-down-na!….you don’t need to run out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars right out of the gate. I certainly didn’t do this when I started baking and decorating cakes. I started slow. Several things were already in my kitchen.
It takes much time to build up your cake and baking supplies. Remember, it’s an investment so you’ll want to buy smart, not cheap. You have to figure out what you need as you learn and grow into the type of cake baker/designer you want to be. Let me repeat that, as you learn you will figure out what you need and/or want to use. For now, let’s get organized and start with the basic tools.
#1 Stand Mixer or Hand Held Mixer
You absolutely can get by with a handheld mixer and not stress yourself right away thinking you need to drop hundreds on a brand name stand mixer. There are pros and cons with both depending on what you are trying to accomplish. A handheld mixer is more laborious, more time consuming (depending on what you’re making), and the attachments are limited.
A stand mixer has multiple attachments, is faster but is limited on bowl size. If you decide to invest in a stand mixer do your homework on the brand and size. They are not all created equal. Eventually having both is a bonus because you’ll need each mixer for different things.
#2 Baking Pans
OK, this is a big one if not the most important. Seems like a no-brainer however, not any ole’ pan is your friend. What the pan is made of is very important for different styles of baking. There are a variety of sizes, colors, surface textures, and materials. There is glass, silicon, metal/aluminized steel, and lead-free ceramic.
Aluminized steel is a good material to bake with because it distributes heat quickly and evenly. The downside to metal is it’s “non-stick” which is an obstacle to manage every time you bake. Carbon steel is pressed heavy gauge steel making it stronger and more durable than aluminum steel. Carbon steel is the best.
#3 Parchment Paper, Aluminum Foil, and Plastic Wrap
Parchment Paper is sooo important. Since your metal pans are non-stick parchment paper/rounds will be your best friend. I use it on the surface of every baking pan to allow easy cake release. There is another secret baker’s use instead of parchment paper or butter spray. It’s a homemade pan release – aka “Cake Goop”. See recipe below. It’s equal parts all-purpose flour, vegetable shortening, and vegetable oil mix that can be coated on pans for easy release without tearing. Many swear by it.
Try whichever cake release method you like best. Aluminum foil and cling wrap are also baking/kitchen staples. I always need both to cover or wrap cooled cakes, frostings – anything I need to cover and set aside for later while I’m doing 10 other things simultaneously.
#4 Cake Strips/Baking Strips
I really don’t know what I would do without these cake strips. These strips help your cakes bake level and even without that domed “Poof” at the top. Simply soak them in water, ring out slightly, wrap them around the outside of your cake pan (pin or thread through like a belt), and witness the miracle happen before your eyes! Yes, you may need to do some minor cake trimming afterward but that big ole’ dome will be gone. Can I get an Amen??
#5 Scale and Oven Thermometer
A good kitchen scale is your secret weapon for precision measurements. It rivals any measuring cups or spoons and can clarify weight for all your recipes.
An oven thermometer is a tool to help verify the internal and true temperature of your oven during the cooking process. Knowing that the internal temperature matches the oven setting is crucial to successful cooking or baking.
- Put the oven thermometer in your oven, and preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take a reading. When it’s fully preheated, check the reading on the thermometer.
- Recalibrate, if necessary.
A sifter helps break up clumps, aerate flour, powdered sugar, and other sifting ingredients for even consistency and better taste. Made from stainless steel, some with a spring squeeze handle or handheld. Many recipes call for sifted dry ingredients and you will need a sifter.
#7 Mixing Bowls
Invest in a good set/s of mixing bowls. I cannot stress this point enough. Many may think, they’re bowls – big deal just pick a set. No! They are not all right for hard labor. The silver stainless steel bowls you see in this photo are my favorite for almost anything.
Tried and true they are strong, lightweight, stackable, have an easy top grip, easy to clean, deep with tall sides, stays cool at any room temperature, and comes with plastic covers. Take care of these bowls and they will love you back forever. Other mixing bowl materials are made from copper, plastic, melamine, or glass. Each with pros or cons depending on usage.
#8 Measuring Cups
Ok, this leads us to measuring cups and spoons (below). The advice is the same for these two very important set/s of tools for baking and cooking measurements. Buy smart, not cheap and they will last years and avoid the dishwasher for plastic and stainless steel – it will ruin, discolor, or crack over time due to the heat.
Pros and Cons
- Stainless Steel
- Pros: inexpensive, durable, lightweight, stackable, easy to clean, can be used as a double boiler, stays cool at any room temperature, and is ok for the dishwasher however-over time the detergent, and humidity can corrode the metal. Depending on the quality of the product be weary of the dishwasher.
- Cons: not microwave safe, not all stainless steel is dishwasher safe-low quality products can oxidize and come out tarnished, can dent or damage depending on rough storage or usage.
- Pros: for prep and serving in the same bowl, inexpensive, durable, microwave safe, stackable, easy to clean, and is ok for the dishwasher however-over much time the detergent, and humidity can corrode the glass. Depending on the quality of the product be weary of the dishwasher.
- Cons: glass is heavy, not easy to store, and not always easy to manage when pouring.
- Pros: great at maintaining temperature, has ions that bond with certain foods like whipping eggs which makes them light and fluffy, looks beautiful, can be used as a double boiler.
- Cons: expensive, delicate, not dishwasher safe.
- Pros: inexpensive, durable, stackable, shatterproof
- Cons: Scratches which can create crevices for trapping food causing contamination, traps odors, discolors over time, can’t be used as a double boiler, not necessarily dishwasher safe.
#9 Measuring Spoons
I have multiple measuring cups (different sizes), and spoon sets made from plastic, stainless steel, or glass. You cannot live with just one measuring cup or one set of spoons. Depending on how much baking or cooking you do you have to ask yourself, “Am I going to continue washing these two items between every dry or wet ingredient?” No! Yes, you will have more to clean after all is done but you will not waste valuable time during the process.
#10 Silicone Spatulas
Ahh, spatulas…such an essential tool! Weed out the bad ones, don’t buy low quality, and protect your favorites. You will need multiple sizes and lengths. Silicone spatulas are multi versatile, easy to handle, easy to clean, and heat resistant. The high-quality spatulas are typically dishwasher safe.
I prefer spatulas that are one piece. How many have we all gone through where the top detaches from the handle?? Talk about infuriating. Avoid buying these. I also avoid using wood utensils because wood is porous, can trap bacteria, cracks, discolors, is hard to clean, and it’s not dishwasher safe.
#11 Offset Spatulas and Cake Tester Sticks
Offset spatulas are used for frosting and decorating cakes. The uses are endless. Regular kitchen knives will not give you the ease or size range for frosting a cake as offset spatulas do. Cake tester sticks are just long thin stainless steel rods used to test cake doneness during the baking process. This tool seems insignificant but it’s really essential. It’s designed to stick into the cake to test the doneness without poking large holes in it.
#12 Cake Leveler and/or Serrated Knife
A cake leveler has an adjustable blade or wire that helps level off the top of cakes to the desired height. This tool will cut even, smooth layers and help with cracks while stacking when filling the layers. A serrated knife can also be used to level cakes but there is more room for error when cutting the tops. If you prefer the leveler for the tops you may still need a serrated knife to trim the side of the cake.
#13 Cooling Racks and/or Marble Cooling Plate
Cooling racks enable food to be cooled on all sides after being baked. The cons are they leave rack lines on baked goods but if you are trimming or staking cake layers it won’t be an issue. Cooling racks are especially great for cookies.
A marble cooling plate or surface is resistant to high temperatures and does not leave marks on your baked goods. Marble is porous and can stain so avoid acidic or stainable foods.
#14 Cake Boards
Cake boards are absolutely essential for cakes and for the overall look of the design. If you are baking for the family then flat cake platters or plates are fine just make sure you have a cover. Cake boards support the weight of the cake and compliment the cake design.
You can either decorate your cake on the board or decorate it separately on a cake circle/liner and move it to a sturdier cake board. To learn more about cake boards go to my DIY Cake Board – How To Cover Cake Boards Easily.
#15 Cake Boxes and Containers
Your cakes and all baked goods must be covered. Whether you are a hobby baker or professional cakes need protection from outside elements, drying out, or simply getting damaged. Cake boxes are also not “just boxes”. They finish the complete look of that special occasion which is the cake. Who wants to pick up or display a beautiful cake in an ugly box or container.
What makes a good cake box or container? – supports the weight of the cake – has extra baseliner – covers the cake completely without damaging any part of the cake – easy to carry – seals without fail – reusable – displays the cake beautifully.
- Hand or stand mixer
- 1/2 cup Flour
- 1/2 cup Shortening
- 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. A paddle attchment from a stand mixer works best.
- Spread evenly in your pan with a pastry or silicon brush. Don't over do it.
- Release your cake from the pan within 5-10 minutes from the oven and set the cake on a cooling rack. Do not let the cake sit in the pan or the goop will solidify and chunk off.
- Cake Goop can be at room temperature for 1-2 months. It can also be stored in an air-tight container in the frig for 6 m. but will need to thaw a bit before using.
- Keep in mind – Not highly perishable but oil can separate and go rancid.
- Don’t overdo the goop in your pan or your cake could turn out soggy or the goop will crush on your cake during baking. However, some say be generous with the goop!!…try what works best for you.
- Parchment paper can still be used but it’s not necessary which is the entire reason for Cake Goop.
- If you bake a lot this recipe can be doubled depending on how much you need.
To learn more about thoughtful ideas and preparation to help you in the kitchen check out my 15 Top Cake Baking Tips and Tricks.
Thanks for visiting my Top 15 Baking Tools – Must-Have Essentials for Every Baker
I hope this list has inspired you. Happy Baking!