When I first thought about starting Elyse Creates, I lived in a 400-square foot studio apartment in Koreatown. The kitchen had next to zero counter space, an old oven that rarely heated evenly, and a super fun bug problem. Now, I live in a small one-bedroom apartment (moving on up!) and my kitchen has improved greatly but is still much smaller than the beautiful open spaces often associated with food blogs. (Also, as a sidebar, the picture above is not my kitchen. Mine has 100% more dirty dishes and 0 natural light.)
This lack of space means that I take what I put in my kitchen very seriously. I have to balance space-saving with what I need to create a baking blog full of varied recipes—making multi-purpose items and quirky workarounds the name of the game.
I have been going back and forth about writing this post because I’m not interested in saying that people NEED certain things to create tasty food—because you don’t. There will always be clever tricks and I support you in finding them! That might look like using a wine bottle as a rolling pin or cutting a silicone mat to fit your quarter sheet pan, whatever works for you! However, without fail, the questions I get asked most are always equipment-based, so I’m sharing the 10 most used products in my kitchen. I think of these as baking staples, that work for kitchens both small and large. I hope it helps!
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Food scale: I’m unclear why people are so apprehensive about weighing ingredients. But, if you need one more person to tell you to hop on the weighing bandwagon, I’m here to be that person. You can find a high-quality food scale for under $15, and not only does it make you more accurate but it also saves you on dishes later!
Large wooden board: Ok, this isn’t the most luxurious item on the list, but it has saved my bacon more times than I can count. I went to Home Depot, found a thick untreated board roughly 18×24, and slathered it in wood oil to seal it and make it food-safe. That way, anytime I need to roll out dough, I can lay the board on top of my stovetop for added counter space.
Stand mixer: Obscenely pricy and taking up literally an entire section of my counter, this is the exception to the space-saving rule. It is my workhorse, my rock, my port in the storm, and my everything. It allows me to make muffins, cakes, cookies, breads, ice cream (with the attachment), frosting, and so much more. However, you can very easily use a handheld mixer, which is a fraction of the price and fits snuggly in a drawer. The only drawback to a handheld is that you’ll be forced to knead bread by hand and my arms hurt just thinking about it.
Muffin tin: This specific muffin tin is THICC, which is perfect because I drop things constantly. We are a big muffin family, so I use this tin at least once a month outside of regularly pulling it out for Elyse Creates. If you aren’t into muffins or cupcakes though, feel free to pass on it. Full disclosure, I also own a jumbo muffin tin, but it doesn’t get nearly as much play as the classic.
Baking sheet and cooling rack: I guess this is cheating because it’s technically two things, but they fit sweetly inside each other, so I’m counting it as one. Don’t skimp on a cooling rack, it might not be the most flashy of kitchen tools, but without proper airflow, the texture of your bakes can suffer, especially for cookies and crackers.
Jigger: If you have been on my blog for any amount of time, you know I love a weekend cocktail. You don’t need a full cocktail set to create amazing drinks either. A shaker and a bar spoon can be improvised, but a proper double-sided measuring cup is invaluable.
Measuring cups (dry and liquid): Measuring liquid in nesting cups (used for dry ingredients) can cause variation as high as 23% vs. 10% in the proper liquid measuring cup, making it well worth purchasing both types.
9” springform pan: I use this springform pan for cheesecake, cakes, and brownies instead of buying three separate types of pans. I’ve even been known to shove small-batch cinnamon rolls in this sucker! Maybe one day I’ll buy a square tin, but for now, brownies come out great when baked in a circle, don’t at me.
2, 6” cake pans: This is another space splurge, but I LOVE a layered cake! Nothing screams celebration quite like a 3-layer cake, and when you show up to a brunch with a 2-layer snack cake, you look like an absolute boss. Yes, you can get away with only having one, which I did for a while, but holy moly does it save you so much time to bake off two at a time.
Candy/fry thermometer: If you are going to make donuts or candy, you need a reliable thermometer to accurately gauge temperature. This one has been with me for years, so while it’s not the most advanced, it’s durable and cheap.
If I had to expand this list, I would add items like a wooden spoon, spatula (I only have one, and it will be with me until the day I die), measuring spoons, and quality knives–specifically a bread knife, chef knife, and paring knife. They are crossover items that make cooking and baking so much easier. Do you have any kitchen tools that have been with you through thick and thin? Share them below to help out your fellow bakers!