The best baking essentials for your kitchen

Treat your cakes with care.

person pulling muffins out of an oven
Pastry paraphernalia.Taylor Grote vis Unsplash

If you’re making dinner, throwing together a little of this and a little of that can often get you delicious results. Not so with baking, where ingredients must be carefully measured and substitutions are fraught with peril. Baking involves a lot of chemistry—say, where acidic buttermilk reacts with baking soda to make your cake rise, for example—and precision is the name of the game. If you have quality baking equipment on hand, it’s way more likely that you’ll find your kitchen overflowing with mouth-watering treats to devour or share. These fantastic fundamentals will inspire you to tie on an apron and get busy whipping up cakes, cookies, muffins, and more.

Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware Set

Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware Set

Every pan you’ll ever need.Amazon

All of your favorite desserts require the right size pan for shapely and evenly-cooked results. This comprehensive set includes a 10 x 15-inch baking sheet for cookies, biscuits, and scones, a medium loaf pan, two 8-inch round cake pans, a 9 x 13-inch pan for sheet cakes, and a 12-cup muffin and cupcake pan. The nonstick coating spares you the stress of seeing your perfect confection fall apart when you take it out of the pan to cool. Each piece of bakeware is designed with a steel core to prevent warping and to provide uniform heating. They’re also oven safe up to a temperature of 450 degrees.

Ultra Cuisine Stainless Steel Cooling Rack

Ultra Cuisine Stainless Steel Cooling Rack

Keep it off the counter.Amazon

Part of the magic of baking is letting the finished product cool properly. If you leave cookies on the baking sheet when you take them out of the oven, the heat from the pan can continue to cook them, and condensation from the difference in air temperature can make them soggy. This cooling rack is made from rust-resistant stainless steel and fits inside a 10 x 15-inch cookie pan. With six separate feet to support each rack and a foot height of 1 inch, there is ample room for air to circulate evenly under your food. The space between each wire square is just ⅜ of an inch, making it possible to use the rack to dry berries and nuts. You can also use it for grilling, roasting, and broiling meat, vegetables, and fish.

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Stand Mixer

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Stand Mixer

A highly coveted retro classic.Amazon

If you’ve ever tried getting whipped cream or peaky egg whites by hand, you know the time and arm strength it takes. This 10-speed stand mixer will beat eggs, combine wet and dry ingredients, whip cream, and knead dough for you in its lovely stainless steel bowl. The tilt-head design is convenient for bowl access, and the 5-quart size is capable of mixing dough for nine dozen cookies in a single batch—more than enough for any last-minute bake sale, party, or scout meeting. A flat beater, dough hook, and wire whip are included with this model for standard baking needs. As you grow into your culinary skills, you can add attachments to the power hub that can shred cheese, spiralize zoodles, make fresh pasta, and more.

Simply Gourmet Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons Set

Simply Gourmet Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons Set

Just a spoonful of sugar?Amazon

These six stainless steel measuring cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons are both aesthetically pleasing and designed for those who want to follow recipes exactly. The size of each piece (ranging from 1 cup down to ⅛ of a teaspoon) is engraved into the metal, making it much harder to accidentally add too much salt or spice. Throw them in the dishwasher for easy cleaning, and let them nest together in your cupboard or drawer for efficient use of space.

Pyrex Smart Essentials Mixing Bowl Set Including Locking Lids

Pyrex Smart Essentials Mixing Bowl Set Including Locking Lids

Great for mixing and storage.Amazon

One secret to making it look easy on cooking shows lies in prepping your ingredients and keeping them close at hand. You’ll find multiple uses for these six glass bowls ranging in size from 1 quart to 4 quarts: combining ingredients, refrigerating batter for later use, proving dough, or storing prepped frosting. Pyrex glass can go in the fridge, oven, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher. The BPA-free plastic lids make for a simple transition from working bowls to storage containers.