Make + Bake with Anneka: Top 10 Baking Tools plus Easy Chocolate Coconut Slice Recipe

Top 10 Baking Tools Top 10 Baking Tools

Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today she gives us the scoop on the top 10 baking tools you should have in your kitchen drawers. Plus she shares her yummy (and very easy!) Chocolate Coconut Slice Recipe.

Top 10 Baking Tools

Having a carefully selected collection of utensils for when you bake can do wonders for your confidence and success in the kitchen. These ten essential baking tools (+ one bonus one!) are all favourties of mine and can be easily picked up at the supermarket or kitchenware store if you don’t already have them.

 1. Scales

I love my scales (I know, it’s sad, really!). I bought my first set of electronic scales about 20 years ago and they were expensive, but invaluable. Nowadays you can pick up a good set for about $50. Electronic scales have a number of features that will save you time in the kitchen, including the ability to ‘zero’ the reading (the tare weight) so you can measure a number of ingredients, one after another, into the same bowl – brilliant for one-bowl mixes, not to mention  saving on washing up! I often demonstrate this feature in my No Time To Bake classes and my students are usually so impressed by this revelation that the first thing they do is go out and buy a set!

Most electronic scales can also switch between metric and imperial measures.

 

2. Measuring Jug

A clear glass or plastic jug is the best to use. Its measurement markings should be easy to read. I prefer to use a measuring jug that is not too large – anything over 2 cups (500ml) will make it hard to measure smaller quantities accurately. Also make sure it is marked with metric measures as well as imperial.

 

3. Measuring Spoons

These are readily available from supermarkets and kitchenware stores and are used to measure small amounts of both dry and liquid ingredients. They usually come in a set of four that includes 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon.

Don’t be tempted to just use your everyday serving tablespoons and teaspoons – they don’t hold the same amount and this could affect your baking results. Standard measuring spoons are very cheap (especially if you buy them from the supermarket) and will probably prove to be the most valuable piece of baking equipment you own.

A word of warning though, in Australia you will find many kitchen utensils that are imported from overseas countries that don’t share our standard units of measurement. For example, in Australia the standard measuring tablespoon holds 4 teaspoons or 20ml. However, in the UK and US a tablespoon holds 3 teaspoons or 15ml and, more often than not, these are the ones sold in our local stores. This won’t make a big difference when you are measuring ingredients such as flour or sugar, but if you are measuring a concentrated ingredient such as baking powder or yeast, it can cause real imbalances in your baking.

Take a look at your measuring tablespoon now – does it hold 15ml or 20ml? Either keep this in the back of your mind along with where the recipe was first published, making adjustments where needed, or simply go out and buy the tablespoon measure you don’t have and make sure you match the tablespoon size with the recipe origin.

 

4. Measuring Cups

These are used for measuring dry ingredients and ‘soft’ non-liquid ingredients as an alternative to scales. They are most commonly plastic or metal and are usually available in a set of four that includes 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup.

 

5. Cake Tester

Basically this is just a thin skewer of metal that can be bought at the supermarket or a kitchenware store. If you have a thin bamboo skewer, it will work just as well. You stick it into the centre of a cake (or muffin or cupcake or slice) to check if it is cooked – the skewer will come out clean if it is. If wet batter is sticking to it then you need to cook it for longer. Sometimes, however, particularly for brownies or flourless chocolate cakes, the recipe will specify that ‘crumbs cling to a skewer when inserted’. This is what you will be looking for when testing and ensures that the brownie or cake ends up with a ‘fudgy’ texture.

 

6. Pastry Brush

Use it for brushing egg wash, milk, glazes and sugar syrups over dough, tarts and cakes. It is also handy for greasing cake tins and baking trays with melted butter and oil. Don’t use the natural or nylon-bristled brushes in boiling liquids or hot fat, and avoid really cheap pastry brushes as they can lose their bristles easily.

To care for your pastry brush, wash it by hand in hot soapy water, rinse it well and then let it air dry thoroughly before storing, so it won’t hold any grease or odours.

 

7. Timer

Even with my experience, I always like to use a timer, mainly because I get distracted easily with other things. A portable digital timer is an extremely handy tool for your kitchen, even if your oven already has a built-in one – they are accurate and can be taken with you if you leave the kitchen. It’s a small price to pay to prevent overcooking something, which can be incredibly disappointing.

 

8. Spatula

A couple of flexible spatulas to gently combine mixtures and to fold in whisked egg whites so that the incorporated air isn’t lost. Another of my favourite baking tools is a spoon/spatula – basically a rubber or silicone spatula with a shallow bowl like a spoon – which makes light work of folding mixtures, transferring them to cake pans and then scraping the bowl. I would highly recommend you buying one (or three!) of these if you don’t have one already.

 

9. Wooden Spoon

Keep a couple of sturdy wooden spoons on hand for vigorous mixing and stirring.

 

10. Balloon Whisk

This handy tool is perfect for whisking, especially egg whites and cream, mixing liquid ingredients and gently combining and removing lumps from mixtures. I also find that a balloon whisk is great to use when combining a number of dry ingredients (such as flour, cocoa, sugar and coconut like in the recipe below).When buying a balloon whisk make sure the handle sits comfortably in your hand. Remember the more wires it has the more efficient it will be at whisking and therefore the quicker your mixture will reach the desired consistency.

And a bonus one……

Ruler! You may not think this is essential but believe me a ruler can save a lot of time and bother in the kitchen. Cake and tart tins, biscuit cutters and piping nozzles are just some of the things that you will need to check the size of. Remember, what you may think is a 20cm round cake tin may in fact be a 24cm one – a little detail that could mean the difference between success and failure of your cake. It is also handy to have a ruler when you are rolling out biscuit dough or pastry so you can tell when you have reached the right thickness. A clear plastic one is the best to have on hand.

Even though this Easy Chocolate Coconut Slice recipe is dead-simple, you will find that you will need almost all the tools I’ve mentioned above – proof that having them in your kitchen will make your baking life so much easier!

 

Easy Chocolate Coconut Slice Recipe

Easy Chocolate Coconut Slice Recipe Easy Chocolate Coconut Slice Recipe

This is a fail-safe recipe that everyone loves – especially with its unexpected berry jam centre. If you would prefer to top it with a simple chocolate icing and omit the jam filling, simply press all of the chocolate-coconut mixture into the tin and bake in the same way. When cool spread with the chocolate icing, allow the icing to become firm and then cut into pieces.

Makes: 24 pieces

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 30-35 minutes

Make Ahead: This slice will store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 300g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 250g (11/4 cups, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 170g (2 cups) desiccated coconut
  • 200 g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly whisked
  • 160g (1/2 cup) mixed berry jam (or berry jam of your choice)
  • Icing sugar, to dust

 

What You Do:

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (base measurement) slice tin and line the base and the two long sides with one piece of non-stick baking paper, extending over the sides.

 

2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. Stir in sugar and coconut (a balloon whisk will make light work of this!). Add the melted butter and eggs and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to stir until evenly combined.

 

3. Place half the mixture into the prepared tin and use your hands to press evenly over the base to cover. Spread the jam evenly over the top. Place the remaining chocolate-coconut mixture over the top of the jam and use your fingertips to gently press it over the jam to cover (this can be quite rough if you like). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the tin.

 

4. Use the paper to lift slice from tin, cut into pieces and serve dusted with icing sugar.

 

Simple chocolate icing: Sift together 155g (11/4 cups) icing sugar and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Add 30 g softened butter and 2 teaspoons boiling water. Stir until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary

 

Make Ahead: This slice will store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

 

You can stay in-touch Anneka with all that’s happening at BakeClub by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or you can join in one of their fab Bake Classes.

 

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