Preparations for Baking Cookies
Cookie baking, just as any other culinary endeavor, is best-completed with an arsenal of useful instruments which ensure optimal results. There are many kitchen utensils available, and in order to make the best cookies without breaking the bank you must know which are essential and which are not.
1. Learn the differences between different types of mixing bowls.
2. Learn which kitchen tools are most useful for cookie baking.
There are many different types of materials commonly used for mixing bowls; but the three most common are ceramic, glass, and metal. All three are non-reactive and non-porous, in contrast to materials such as wood, so they do not compromise the flavors of the ingredients. Which one to choose is up to the baker, but there are certain benefits and drawbacks to each. What is most important is to be sure that you have an assortment in sizes ranging from two or three cups to four or five quarts. This will allow you to complete a range of tasks necessary for successful cookie baking: beating eggs, blending dry ingredients, whipping icings, and preparing sugar toppings.
Glass bowls have one major advantage over ceramic and metal variations: they are transparent. This is especially beneficial in cookie baking because they allow the baker to view the batter and assure that all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Cookie batter tends to be much thicker than cake or brownie batter. This means that sometimes the thick batter sticks to the sides of the bowl. Glass bowls allow the baker to view the batter while mixing. Glass is oven and microwave safe. Glass bowls are prone to breaking when dropped which is certainly a downside especially if you are cooking with small children.
Metal bowls, specifically stainless steel, are widely available in any kitchen supply store and are usually the cheaper alternative to decorative ceramic bowls and impressive glass bowls. They are good for a variety of cooking tasks, but they are NOT microwave safe. Putting a metal bowl in the microwave could result in a catastrophic kitchen fire. Stainless steel bowls get very hot when filled with hot ingredients, and likewise they get equally cold in the opposite situation. Copper bowls are the best conductors of heat, and wonderful for whipping egg whites.
Hand Mixers are great for recipes that require a long mixing time and they are the best at fully incorporating all ingredients. There are three types of mixers that a baker can choose from. The stand mixer is for the ambitious or advanced baker. These are expensive but they can whisk egg whites to peaks, pull bread dough, and whip without stopping. They are beautiful counter pieces for the large kitchen and come in a variety of appealing colors. They do take up a lot of space and may not be the best investment for the hobby baker with a small kitchen. Hand mixers are a mainstay of the American kitchen. They mix and whip at a variety of speeds making them easy to use. They are so common that many recipes are written with them in mind. A stick blender is great for a small kitchen or a baker on a budget. They do basically the same tasks as the standard hand mixer while also retaining swirling blades for blending. These are great little kitchen tools!
Measuring Cup Set:
Measuring cups can be found in any kitchen supply store and even in most grocery stores. They come in ceramic, plastic, glass, metal, silicone, and wooden varieties. Collapsible silicone cups are great for easy storage, but metal cups are the tried and true favorite of most kitchens. They are light, easy to use, and easy to clean. Make sure that your measuring cups have the measurements engraved on the handle. Amounts that are written on the handles can rub off over time which could potentially cause a kitchen mishap. A standard measuring cup set should include ¼ cup, ½ cup, ¹⁄₃ cup, and a full cup.
Measuring Cup (Pitcher):
Even if you have a measuring cup set, a glass measuring cup pitcher (up to two cups) is irreplaceable for pouring liquids. Many times a baker will use a measuring cup pitcher for liquids and a cup set for dry ingredients so that the wet and dry ingredients do not stick together and cause inaccurate measurements.
Teaspoon and Tablespoon Set:
Small spoons in a variety of sizes from ¼ teaspoon to a full tablespoon are essential to cookie baking. Most recipes call for baking soda, baking powder, and spices which are so strong that only a tiny amount is needed.
An inexpensive metal whisk is a must-have for any kitchen. When a cookie recipe calls for a beaten or slightly beaten egg, there is no need to get a large mixer dirty with all of its many parts when a whisk would do just fine. These are great for any delicate or small mixing task.
When mixing cookies, one should not use a regular spoon because the batter tends to be quite thick. Thick batter can bend an ordinary spoon. The best choice is a large kitchen spoon made of a strong metal. A regular soup spoon, tablespoon, or ice cream scoop is perfect for drop cookie size.
Not only are these great for incorporating ingredients, inexpensive, and can be used widely in other non-cookie recipes; but they are also perfect for scraping the sides of the mixing bowl to fully incorporate all ingredients.
These are perfect for cookie baking with children. They love to choose from a collection of designs and wait for "their" cookies to bake. Cookie cutters come in a variety of shapes and are popular for holiday sugar cookies. A cookie cutter shaped like a man is essential for baking gingerbread men.
Cookie Sheets (two or more):
Cookie sheets are generally labeled "non-stick" which means they are coated with Teflon. Make sure you have at least two sheets.
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