11. Flour Sifter
While flour sifters have gone by the wayside for many who prefer to use prepared cake mixes, home bakers who want to improve the texture of their homemade specialty cakes, still use them. And there are other uses for a flour sifter, especially a one-cup size - to dust a cake with icing or confectioner's sugar, or add a cinnamon-sugar mix to cakes or desserts. You can also use one to dust a pastry sheet with flour or to add flour to thicken gravy. Whether it's an essential baking tool for you depends on how particular you are about your cake textures or alternate uses.
12. Basting Brushes
Basting brushes are essential for buttering the tops of breads and baked goods after they come out of the oven. Most basting brushes are now silicone rather than synthetic hair and can more readily handle hot liquids. While the silicone construction is not as nice to butter with, they do last longer. Basting brushes are handy for more than baking, they're great for basting meats and poultry when roasting or grilling.
An absolute must for melting chocolate and there are different models available, but I like the dual pots the best because this unit allows you to melt both dark and light chocolates. A chocolate melting pot removes the fear of burning the chocolate which is very easy to do using a pot on the stove. These small appliances allow you the time needed to prepare and dip your dessert creations. Similar to a small electric fondue, it melts the chocolate and keeps it warm for an extended period of time, so you can complete the dipping. It's also ideal to use for a chocolate fondue pot, though capacity is much less than a standard electric fondue.
Decorating tools are a must if you plan on making birthday or special occasion cakes or cupcakes. Cake decorating tools include colored writing gels and icings, preformed flowers and trims, and the icing bags and tips you need to apply frosting or cream. If you plan on making a lot of decorated cakes, a revolving cake stand makes the task easier and a cake decorating book can give you ideas and help you grow your decorating skill.
15. Bread Machines
Also called breadmakers, these machines allow you to make homemade bread without having to spend time kneading it. While you can complete the baking cycle right in the bread machine, some models have a dough setting where it will do the mixing/kneading and first rising, then you can take over and shape it plus let it rise, and then bake it in your range oven. Even the partial (dough) breadmaking process saves lots of time and effort. And making bread at home saves on your food bill. There's a slight downside though, most tend to eat more bread when they make it at home - it's so hard to resist, but you can make healthier breads because you can experiment with whole grains to your heart's content. You also get to control the additives that go into your family's bread.
Either type of mixer is very convenient for mixing cake batter or whipping desserts and toppings (even potatoes), but a stand mixer has an edge over a hand mixer. You can turn it on to mix and walk away to gather or add ingredients, work on the project or start cleaning up. If you want to be able to knead bread with a stand mixer, it should have a kneading or dough hook; and for whipping - a whisk attachment.
A hand mixer may more readily fit within your budget and is easy to store, but it must be guided through the mixing stage and turned off to add ingredients. A hand mixer does not have enough power to work or mix dough, and is used mostly to mix wet or soft ingredients. If you lack counter space, a hand mixer may be the better choice for you even though its function is limited when compared to a stand model.
A food processor can be as much help with mixing dough as it is processing vegetables and some have had tremendous success letting their food processor do the kneading/mixing for their breads. If you plan on making several loaves of bread, you would need a larger processor (14-cup), but a 7-9 cup unit would be sufficient for standard dessert or cake batters. A counter or hand blender can be helpful when it comes to preparing sauces, butter tart and dessert fillings - mostly soft and liquid foods.
Now that your kitchen is equipped for baking and you have all the pastry tools and baking utensils you need, your next task is to find great baking recipes to try out. There's a good variety of baking cookbooks on the market and you can also find lots of recipes from About's Food Guides.