Have you ever heard of the term Baker’s Dozen? We know that a dozen equals twelve of something and we see it in our daily life, such as shopping for a dozen eggs or a dozen roses . There are also reminders we see in the our world around us such as the 12 months on the calendar . But a baker’s dozen is thirteen of a something, usually baked goods. Why?
Well it has a long and varied history, which you can read about here if you are curious. I had always thought that the 13th was a bonus as a sweet surprise for the customer. In fact, if you read down to the end of this post, you’ll see I have a surprise for you at number thirteen. But historically, a baker’s dozen does not come from a pleasant story. In the 13th century baker’s were notorious for cheating their customers. A law was passed that if they were caught selling “lighter loaves” the penalty would be getting a hand chopped off! To avoid this, bakers started adding a 13th portion of bread to the dozen to offset any light loaves!
Well today I have a baker’s dozen for you with no fear of penalties. I am going to share with you thirteen of my fav kitchen utensils. I am sure probably every foodie blogger that ever walked the earth has shared some sort of post like this. But guess what? I am not everyone else! I am the Yankee Doodle Paddy! And here is my short but sweet list for what it is worth. And it could be worth a lot. Because many people spend a fortune buying every gizmo and gadget to have in their kitchen and barely have room for them all. But these babies are my saving grace time and again! Here goes….
Numbers 1 through 4 are all about the measurements. Though I am often an “eyeball and taste bud” cook, I swear by measuring when trying other chef’s recipes and also in ALL of my baking! Especially given that I do recipes in U.S. and metric measurements it is essential that the weights are accurate.
- Digital weighing scales– It can switch from grams to ounces with a flick of a button. The only thing is that this Salter brand scale is battery operated. When it is running low, it can switch off at inopportune times, so I would be happy enough with old fashioned weighing scales like we used at Ballymaloe Cookery School.
- Measuring spoons– Even if you think you know what a tablespoon looks like, let me tell you, one false move as you are pouring cayenne pepper into the soup you are cooking, and there could be an inedible disaster! Okay I’m being overly dramatic. But measuring spoons are such an important utensil in my kitchen, I have a few sets. But this one is my fav as it has cupcakes engraved on each spoon. It was given to me by my daughter as she knows of my love affair with cupcakes.
- Measuring jug– For me I must have the kind with both ounces and milliliters and I prefer a glass Pyrex pitcher as it withstands heat and you can see through it.
- Measuring cups– I recommend these to people that aren’t even from the U.S. If you can’t find them in a shop where you live, order them online. Why? Because so many popular cookbooks are in U.S. measurements and sure you can Google the conversions, but you are always taking the chance it isn’t 100% accurate. I love my measuring cups and have had this set (Tupperware brand) for ages!
Numbers 5 through 7 are classic “go to” utensils.
5. Tongs– Life savers! I use these for turning literally everything, except pancakes and eggs. When I am making bacon, sausages, tortillas, roasted veggies you name it I’ve got my tongs at the ready! And my fav use is for tossing up salads!
6. Rubber spatula– This one is very special to me, not only because it has the LOVE quote, but also it was given to me by the winner of my #30daysofgratitude challenge. How nice, she wins a prize and then sends me this as a gift! Anyway, I swear by rubber spatulas for scraping the sides of the mixing bowl when I am baking, gently folding in things like beaten egg whites into recipes, but also for getting every last speck of batter from the bottom of the bowl. NO waste!
7. Wooden spoon– And no, I don’t believe in using them as a form of discipline (remember the punishment mentioned earlier about bakers, I would like to avoid anything violent). A wooden spoon is probably one of the oldest and most basic tools used by a cook. While I am only listing it as one item if you look closely at the photo there are two. That is because I wanted to note the importance of using two different ones for cooking different items: one for savory and one for sweet. Wooden spoons are made from timber which is porous. If you’ve used a spoon to stir a tomato and garlic sauce, even if you wash it well, it is likely that some aromas and flavors are still in it. Not good if you are melting chocolate and use the same wooden spoon to stir it. So keep separate ones for each and you’ll be grand!
Numbers 8 through 11 are my right hand helpers. I use them often and they are all multi purpose.
8. Citrus squeezer- I’ve seen these squeezers come in three colors/sizes: green (for limes), yellow (for lemons) and orange (for oranges). I literally wore out my yellow one and recently threw it away. However, I can still use the green one for more than just limes, I simply cut the lemon and orange into smaller bits. This is my fav way to squeeze citrus without my nubs (aka fingers) stinging and burning! Since I love to make my Lemon-Aid on a regular basis, this comes in handy!
9. Ice cream scooper- The reality is, even if you don’t have a scooper you could always just use a spoon to get the ice cream from the container into your bowl. However, I use my ice cream scooper more often for making cupcakes. Yes this is my secret weapon to make sure I have an even amount of batter in each of the cupcake baking cases and bonus, there is no mess!
10. Microplane– I used to be called the queen of Lemon Bars as I made them practically daily. It was easy because my old home had a lemon tree in the backyard. Not so easy, one of the main ingredients in the recipe is grated lemon peel (zest) and in those days I used the basic “box grater” as it is known. I probably grated off the odd finger, cuz those things can be dangerous. Now I have this cushy gadget called Microplane. It isn’t cheap, but worth every penny. Besides lemon zest, I use it for grating fresh ginger, Parmesan cheese, even garlic! So handy folks!
11. Off set spatula– Let’s talk about versatile! I love to use this gizmo to frost my cakes and cupcakes with delish buttercream icing. But this is also fab to flip my easy peasy pancakes!
The final two bits, numbers 12 and 13, from my baker’s dozen kitchen utensils that I can’t live without are brilliant and versatile. Both I use for baking and other needs, and they save money too!
12. Silpat– This silicone baking pad brand has seen better days. I have two of them and use them daily. It not only saves money on baking parchment paper, it makes clean up easy as well. I bake things such as cookies and pizza on this, and I toast nuts on it as well. They aren’t cheap for the initial investment but well worth it!
13. Wooden toothpicks- I am not implying that these are meant to be used for what the word indicates “tooth pick”. In other words, I’m not walking around the kitchen chewing on them like one of these fellas:
But let me tell you, I use them all the time to check my sponge cakes to see if they are fully baked. I insert the toothpick right in the center of the cake. When I pull it out, if it comes out clean without any crumbs or batter, it is done. I also use them as skewers to fasten my Bacon Wrapped Dates . Yeah that’s Kevin Bacon there below, about to put one of those timber sticks into his mouth. If he only knew the importance of them in my kitchen. By the way, I’ve actually met Kevin, which you can read about if you click on the recipe for the Kevin Bacon Wrapped Dates
So now it is your turn, what are your favorite kitchen gizmos, gadgets and utensils you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below. Or you can simply fawn over the photos and share which is your fav. I’m sure it’s the photo of that ice cream scooper that is calling your name?