Nothing beats the smell of a gooey brownie or chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, does it?
The smell fills the house, and the baked goods fill your stomach with that warm, happy, fuzzy feeling. Whether you are a seasoned baker or dipping your toe into the world of measuring cups and egg whites, baking can be a fun and relaxing hobby.
But for those beginners, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. There are so many cookbooks and gizmos, knowing what you need to start baking can be challenging to find out. That is where this guide comes to the rescue!
Our guide will tell how to start baking for beginners, outlining exactly what you need to get started! The time of procrastination is over; for now, we bake!
What You Need
To start baking, you will, of course, need some recipes to try out! You could purchase some cookbooks, or you can search for free recipes online. There is a wealth of information out there for baking, but don’t let that phase you; stick with us, and I can navigate the big bad world of baking for you!
Once you have selected a recipe to start with, cookies or cupcakes are easy ones, to begin with; you are going to need some baking utensils. Now, don’t panic! You don’t need to blow hundreds of dollars on a fancy all-in-one mixer; let’s take a look at what should be in every beginning baker’s kitchen.
A weighing scales
Not just a sad step in the bathroom, weighing scales in the kitchen will quickly become your best friend! A massive part of baking is accurately measuring your ingredients out correctly. Incorrect measurements can lead to baking catastrophes (one of my first cakes exploded in the oven, and I can’t have that happen to you!), and weighing out ingredients can help avoid these.
A small electronic weighing scale is a worthwhile investment that is usually an affordable purchase to make. Electronic weighing scales tend to be more accurate than their mechanical counterparts. They will take a small battery to operate, but generally, the battery life is excellent. They are a great way of measuring ingredients which are listed in grams or ounces.
How else do you measure, with cups and spoons, of course!
Sometimes, a recipe will ask for ingredients measured in ‘cups’ or ‘spoons’ depending on the recipe. Cups are usually measured in ¼ cup, ½ cup, or a whole cup. These measurements can be converted into ozs to use your scales, but you run the risk of inaccuracies on times and fiddly maths!
You can purchase cups that state the cup measurements on them, so you can fill these up stress-free and add them to your mixture. These cups can be practical or be stylish additions to your kitchen and are widely available and an affordable purchase to make too.
They are also available in a scoop style, which is easier to dip into a bag of flour and get an excellent measurement! These usually come as a set with a range of sizes, either made of stainless steel or silicone.
Silicone gives you added flexibility, which is an excellent feature for scooping out the dregs of flour at the bottom of the bag. Stainless steel is more solid, and from experience, I find these easier to clean.
More commonly in British recipes, things are measured in spoons, with the measurement relating to the different sizes, i.e., table or teaspoon. You can convert these to cup measurements quickly with a conversion chart.
Alternatively, similar to the cup scoops, you can buy scoops that are sized ½ teaspoon, tablespoon, etc. these are widely available and an inexpensive purchase for most budding bakers.
Those who don’t want two sets of measuring cups may be worth finding a few recipes that appeal to you and purchasing the cups that correspond to the measurements provided.
What about my liquids?
Milk, water, whatever liquid the recipe requires will also need to be correctly measured out. A measuring jug is an excellent option for this. Usually, microwave and dishwasher safe depending on plastic or glass, you can pour the liquid in up to the appropriate line and add to your mixture.
A jug is affordable and widely available as well. You have options with the material and whether you opt for a plunger jug, which helps measure multiple liquids. While that is a nifty tool, a regular jug works just as well!
When adding liquids to a mixture, it's best to go slowly, adding a bit at a time and mixing in between to avoid over saturating the mixture. Adding a little at a time also provides you with better control of the mix!
A mixing bowl, your new best friend
Once your ingredients are correctly weighed out, you will need a large bowl to combine them. A mixing bowl is an essential piece of equipment for baking. You have some choice with your bowl, whether you go for a plastic or glass bowl.
The benefits of a plastic bowl are for the clumsy baker's; you will not smash the bowl should it slip out of your hands. A plastic bowl is also microwave safe and often dishwasher friendly, so melting butter or chocolate can be done quickly.
However, a glass bowl works well for those who may want to melt chocolate, butter, or other goods overheat. If I’ve lost you, you can do this by placing a saucepan on the heat with a bowl on top containing your ingredients. The heat will heat the bowl and melt your ingredients. It can be a slower process than a microwave, but you do get better control.
I like to have the option of glass or plastic mixing bowls, but the choice is ultimately yours.
An electric mixer, here to save the day?
Once you have all your ingredients in a bowl, you will need to bind them together. You can do this with a wooden spoon or a manual whisk, but these things take time, and frankly, who has the time these days? That’s where an electric mixer comes in to play.
Operating usually by a mains plug, the mixer will feature two whisks and a couple of speed settings to help deliver your ingredients’ fast mixing. An electric mixer can sometimes come with a bowl attached, as a larger unit. These all in one mixer are the kind you see dotted over Instagram. Let’s take a look at them as an alternative to buying a separate mixing bowl and mixer.
All-in-one? Is it worth it?
All-in-one mixers, or stand mixers, are popular tools for budding bakers. Their success can partially be attributed to The Great British Bake Off, where we all saw the benefits. For those living under a rock, the premise is simple; you pour all your ingredients into the large bowl which sits in the stand. A mixer will lower in, you control the settings, and everything mixes together.
Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Popular brands like Kitchen Aid have been a staple in kitchens for bakers for years; those who want to bake bread will enjoy this as there is a lot less time kneading the dough. Generally, they are easy to use and will speed your baking time up.
There is a flip side to these excellent devices, though. The cost is one of them. Standing mixers are generally expensive; as a baking beginner, the outlay can be off-putting, especially if it turns out you hate baking or don’t get the chance to bake often.
The other issue is the size. While compact mixers do exist, standing mixers can be quite cumbersome. If you have a large kitchen with plenty of counter space, this may not be an issue for you, but for those with other appliances, or limited counter space, you may struggle to find adequate space for a standing mixer.
If you want my honest opinion, a standing mixer is geared for the seasoned baker or a small business, rather than an entry-level cupcake maker. If you’re going to make a real investment into your baking, then it is a great option to go for.
However, if you don’t want to empty your bank account, opting for an individual mixing bowl and mixer will save you money and counter space! Your ingredients will still mix well, and depending on the mixer you opt for, it shouldn’t take that much longer.
How are you stirring? With some wood, I hope!
Sometimes, it's best not to use a mixer. I know, the thought of sore biceps pains me too, but hear me out and let me tell you all about the beauty of a wooden spoon.
Some recipes will use very fine powders; cocoa powder, used in almost every chocolate-based recipe, is one. When added to other powders such as flour, if you put a mixer on it straight away, you will end up with powder everywhere! Using a wooden spoon to mix the two slowly will help reduce the flying powders.
Sometimes, a recipe will specify that you use a wooden spoon instead of a mixer for those reasons. It can also be helpful when it is time to spoon the mixture out, ready to be baked. And, of course, there is nothing like licking the spoon while your mixture bakes.
Wooden spoons are widely available and can be picked up at such a low cost! You can even get utensil sets that feature spoons, sieves, rolling pins, and more than your baker’s heart could desire, a great gift, too, if you want to drop some hints!
The importance of trays
Without a tray to pour your mixture into, your mixture will not become a baked reality. Trays are easily accessible and so affordable that you don’t need to worry about breaking the bank.
They come in a range of shapes and sizes; your recipe will usually state which size you will need. I would recommend a tray for those beginners for cupcakes, a round cake tin, and a flat tray that can be used for baking cookies.
This selection will offer you some diversity and cover the basics of baking nicely. As you become more seasoned, you can expand your collection to include all manner of funky shaped tins and trays.
Above, I have told you precisely what you will need to start baking and yield the perfect results, but before you go today, let me share some essential tips and extras for the ideal first bake!
Preparation is key! Before I start baking, I like to read the full recipe first to avoid any surprises along the way and know what is expected of me with the recipe.
Weighing out all your ingredients and having them ready before you start baking will save time and allow you to bake worry-free. There is nothing worse than mixing part of a recipe while other ingredients need to be weighed out.
The same goes for your oven; pre-heating is crucial! Putting your mixture into a cold oven will slow the process down and can throw your timings out of whack. I like to preheat the oven while I make my mixture so it can go straight in when it's done.
Once you’ve made your mixture, time is an important one to watch. You don’t want to undercook or burn your creation. You can use the timer on your phone or oven, or you can purchase a timer for your kitchen that will help you keep track and ensure your baked goods are perfectly cooked.
There are so many tools on the market now for bakers, but for those starting, this guide has provided you with the basics you need to get cracking!
Baking at any level can provide you with hours of fun. You can approach your new hobby with no previous experience and still enjoy yourself! To get started, there are a few steps I’d recommend, such as selecting recipes and ensuring you have the right equipment ready to go. These things can all be picked up at a relatively low price, and within no time, you can be baking!
Be sure to relax, enjoy, and check back again for further baking assistance!