Equipment

This section could go on forever.  Therefore, I have limited it to items which most people may not already have in their kitchen.  You may be familiar with some of these items if you have been baking for awhile.  I did not include the description of a pie pan, a rolling pin or a cake pan as I believe these things are in common use.

Bench Scraper: A bench scraper is a metal rectangle with a hard rubber handle on one side.  It is used to scrape down the baking woodblock or “bench” after making bread or other yeast dough  It is also great for dividing dough. 

Cake Cardboard: These are round pieces of corrugated cardboard which can be purchased in various sizes corresponding to the sizes of cake pans.  They can be cut down to the proper size if they are too big.  They are used to hold the cake while you are working on it. 

Cake Turntable: Cake turntables consist of a round, usually metal top about 14” in diameter which fits into a base so that it can turn, just like a record turn table.  The idea is that you can put your cake on the turntable and ice and decorate it while easily moving it from side to side.  If you don’t have one you will just have to turn the surface your cake is on while working on it.  While working on this book I did not have one, so I do not mention it much in the instructions.  I wanted to be sure you could put together all of these tortes and cakes without one, and you can.  It is easier to work on your cake on a turntable, so if you plan to bake a lot, or just like to have all the right gadgets, pick one up.

Handheld Spatula: This is a kidney or rectangular shaped spatula which can does not have a handle.  You can use it to fold ingredients together, especially when folding in egg whites for mousses.  The other kind of rubber spatula works fine, too, if you don’t like to get your hands dirty. 

Icing Spatula: This is a fairly long – usually about 12 inches – metal spatula with a wooden or plastic handle. It is about an inch and a half wide.  The length makes it easier to smooth out large surfaces in as few strokes as possible. 

Long Serrated Knife:  The average serrated knife is about 8 inches long.  The longer version can be as much as 14 inches long.  It is great for splitting cake layers, though the shorter knife will work as well.

Mixer Attachments:  I am fortunate to have a 4½ quart Kitchen-Aid brand mixer.  In fact I have two, one I have barely ever used, since the one I have had and used for 21 years is still going strong.  No matter what brand of mixer you have it will likely have attachments.  I will refer to 3 through out the book.    

     Dough Hook: The dough hook is just as it sounds.  It looks like a single hook with a flat area at the top where it attaches to the machine.  The flat area on top stops the dough from climbing up into the mixer.  The dough hook is primarily used for making bread.

     Paddle: The paddle is a flat, single-blade attachment which has a few bars through the center and is used for creaming ingredients, such as butter, cream cheese, etc.

Whip or Whisk: The whisk is made of metal wires and looks like a hand whisk except it is the size and shape of the bowl it is made for.  It is used for whipping cream, whole eggs, whites, yolks, genoise style cake batter or buttercream.

Pastry Bag: Pastry bags are used to hold whipped cream or buttercream for piping as decoration.  Generally the pastry bag is fitted with a pastry tip.  I like to substitute a plastic freezer bag (with the corner cut out for the pastry tip) for a commercial store bought pastry bag.  It may take a few freezer bags before you get the size of the corner cut just right so that your pastry tip does not slide right through, but the advantage is that you can have a clean pastry bag every time.  Another advantage is that it is bigger than the commercial pastry bag so you will not have to refill it in order to finish decorating. 

Pastry Tips: There are many different types of pastry tips.  For the purpose of this book I use the larger versions, about 2 inches long.  Smaller tips need to be fitted into a coupler, which definitely needs to be used with a commercial pastry bag.  The larger versions I like to use work very well with the plastic freezer bag substitute.   

     Round tip: I generally use a round tip for other types of decorating which require a smooth round circle.  Examples of this include a small ¼ inch diameter round tip as for decorating the Cherry Dacquoise or a larger ½ inch diameter for piping Mousse into serving dishes or for piping Pâte à Choux into circles for Paris Breast.  For the larger size, I just carefully cut the whole in the corner of the freezer bag and omit the tip.  This gives me total control over the size of the hole.    

     Star or Fluted Tip: This will have a fluted opening and will produce flowerets or swirls for decorating around the top of a cake.

Tart Pans with Removable Bottoms: Most fluted tart pans have removable bottoms.  The advantage is that once your tart is finished you can remove the sides, showing off the beauty of the fluted crust, while not disturbing the bottom of the tart.  This is very advantageous for serving and cutting.  If you bring a tart somewhere without your outer rim, be sure you remember to get the bottom back before leaving.  I have several orphaned outer tart shell rims.