Essential cake-making equipment
In addition to good-quality tins, you’ll also need bowls, trays, cutters and scales. Delia gives the low-down on essential equipment for perfect cake-making.
Large, roomy mixing bowls are needed for cakes requiring lots of air (more about that later). Then wooden spoons for mixing, large metal spoons for folding, and rubber spatulas for scraping bowls absolutely clean.
Baking trays: good and solid, for biscuits.
Whisks: the purist will always advocate a wire balloon whisk, and I’d agree that nothing incorporates air into eggs etc as well as one of these. However, it’s hard work, and more often than not I’m prepared to sacrifice a little bit of air and conserve my strength by using an electric hand whisk, which is very quick and efficient.
Wire cooling trays are most important. When you remove cakes from their tins the air needs to circulate all round, and if you stand them on flat surfaces instead, the bases can become steamy and soggy.
Measuring jugs: by far the easiest way to measure by volume is to use a glass measuring jug – if you stand it on a flat surface you can see at a glance when you have the correct amount of liquid.
Rolling pin: an old-fashioned wooden rolling pin is best of all, and the longer the better so that you can roll out scone and biscuit mixes smoothlyl and evenly.
Plain and fluted cutters: for small cakes, biscuits and scones it’s very helpful to have a set of pastry cutters, a mixture of plain and fluted. And remember, when you’re cutting out, never to twist the cutter – just give it a sharp tap as you cut and lift it straightaway. Twisting will result in some very odd shapes!
Palette knife: is something I couldn’t live without. Not only does it scrape, spread and smooth, but it’s invaluable for lifting cakes and biscuits from the baking tray and for sliding round the edges of cakes to loosen them before you turn them out. I have a rather special one with a serrated edge along one side – so mine actually cuts cakes (and bread) very efficiently too. It’s made by a firm called Victorinox.
Nylon piping bag with one or two plain or starred nozzles is useful if you really want to ‘go mad’ with the decorations. Also it’s essential for éclairs to get them absolutely the right shape.
Sieves: absolutely essential, but I find the round, wooden-framed kind a bit on the expensive side. So I make do with two or three ordinary nylon ones for flour which I always sift as one of the most important ingredients in cake-making is air – and sifting gives the flour a good airing.
Proper scales: it’s virtually impossible to make cakes without weighing the ingredients first. Proper balance scales are expensive but they do last a lifetime, unlike the flimsy spring scales with needle indicators. These are so often unreliable, and when they need replacing work out more expensive in the long run.
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