Holiday baking season is here and having the right tools on hand will help lead you to success. These are my top gadgets to make this holiday season less stressful. Remember, “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts!”
Related: Anna Olson’s 50 Ultimate Holiday Desserts
1. Offset spatula
This tool becomes an extension of your hand as you use it to lift cookies off of hot trays, loosen cakes delicately from their pans and frost cakes with precision and panache. The spatula I use in Bake is my own. I’ve had it for about 10 years and I’d be lost without it!
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Long Offset Spatula, HBC, $10.
2. Silicone spatula
I prefer the curved spatulas for effective folding and stirring and for getting every last bit of batter out of a bowl. Silicone is heatproof so it can be used to stir pastry creams and sauces on the stove.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Allwin-Housewares Silicone Spatula 3-Piece Set, Amazon, $8.
3. Oven thermometer
This may sound trivial but a thermometer placed inside your oven is a valuable and inexpensive tool that can save you frustration and prevent spoiled baked treats. You’d be amazed how many ovens don’t sit at the correct temperature the entire time your goods bake. Just because your oven “dings” or displays the temperature doesn’t necessarily mean it is accurate. If you discover your oven temperature is far out of range by 10 °C or more, a repair person can recalibrate it.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Pecula Oven Thermometre, Amazon, $12.
Related: Anna Olson’s Quick Guide To Baking Substitutions
4. Disposable piping bags
Gone are the days of fabric piping bags that never quite come clean or that only fit your largest piping tip. Most cake supply and even craft shops will carry disposable piping bags in an assortment of sizes. They can be reused if you wish and are fully recyclable. You can even buy really small ones, which are perfect if you’re hosting a cookie decorating party.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen 100-Pack Disposable Icing Bags, HBC, $18.
5. Ice cream scoops
I rely on an assortment of sizes, not just for scooping ice cream. They are great for portioning perfectly consistent cookies and dropping muffin or cupcake batter into tins with less mess.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chee Mong Ice Cream Scooper Set, Amazon, $40.
6. Candy thermometer
The world of confectionery and chocolate work requires a precision that only a candy thermometer can offer. The difference between the thread stage and the soft ball stage of boiling sugar is only a few degrees and a candy thermometer takes the guesswork out of it. There are traditional models and also digital probe thermometers – both work equally well. If you have an induction cooktop I recommend the traditional model because the magnetic energy of the induction can interfere with the digital reads.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Taylor Classic Candy Thermometer, Amazon, $17.
Related: From Easy to Advanced: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes For Every Skill Level
7. Fine rasp
Savoury kitchens use this fine grater for garlic and Parmesan but I value it for finely grated citrus zest, mincing ginger without any fibres, grating nutmeg and for chocolate. Now there are models with larger grates, so you get chocolate curls, not just shavings.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Starfrit Zester/Grater with Protective Cover, Amazon, $11.
8. Bar citrus juicer
Lemon, lime and orange juice figure prominently in desserts and I always use freshly squeezed juice. A bar juicer is and fast and convenient way to extract the most juice and it’s easy to clean.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer, Amazon, $29.
9. Measuring tape
This may seem trivial but a fabric measuring tape is immensely handy in a baker’s kitchen. I can verify how thick my dough is as I roll it and I can measure the circumference of a piece of fondant before I lift it to cover a cake. Plus, I can ensure that my squares are all cut to the same size.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Edtape Measuring Tape, Amazon, $6.
10. Cake wheel
If you are getting serious about baking this will be a tool you’ll want to invest in. A cake wheel spins on its base, making seamless frosting simple and detailed piping less. Professional cast-iron cake wheels can be pricey but there are other more affordable options. You can even purchase a lazy Susan that can function as a cake wheel.
Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Glass Top Cake Turntable, HBC, $44.
For more festive recipes from Anna Olson, try her Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake and Hot Chocolate Nanaimo Bars.
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Originally published in November 2020. Updated on December 7, 2021.