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Essential & Recommended Pastry Culinary Arts Tools

Essential and Recommended Tools

Below is an outline of some essential tools any pastry chef / cook or aspiring chef should have in his or her kitchen to ensure a good outcome of the product. Not every Chef will need every tool – but it will certainly facilitate the job on hand if it is done with the right tool on hand.

Most of the items listed can be purchased in either department stores, kitchenware stores or online. Generally speaking with kitchen utensils you will get what you paid for and most of the times it will pay off in the long run if a better quality product has been purchased as it will (with the proper care given) last considerably longer then less expensive and possibly made out of cheap material produced utensils.

Usually any restaurant / hotel kitchen supply store will carry a wide selection of professional grade utensils at a usually affordable price is well. That the places where the professional chefs are shopping for their gears – which mean there, pretty much also where you want to buy your new gadgets for your kitchen is well. These supply stores are also many times staffed by ex-Chefs who can advise you very well about which brand, size or type of tool would be the best for you.

A quick word about knifes, for the culinary chef the knife is the most important tool of the trade and several hundred dollars can easily be spend on just a single chef’s knife. For a pastry chef it is slightly different, of course knifes are important in the pastry kitchen and we do need some good once and sharp once is well. My recommendation would be to spend only enough money on a short chef’s knife and reasonable long serrated bread knife which will be appropriate for the anticipated usage in your pastry kitchen and save the rest of the money for some of the other amazing gadgets, moulds, rings & forms you possibly can buy for the pastry kitchen.

Here is a quick run-down on some possible utensils for your pastry kitchen which will get you started and which will help you recreating the recipes we will cover in our pastry training lessons. Feel free of course to elaborate and shop around for different size and more fancy utensils.

  • 1. Copper bowl

Definitely a luxury to have in the pastry kitchen, but nothing really beats your egg white to the lightest possible meringue then the relaxing effect the copper will have on your albumen proteins of your egg whites. If a copper bowl exceeds your budget, stick to a normal stainless steel mixing bowl for your meringues and simply add a small addition of Cream of tartar or any other acids which will have a similar effect on the egg whites.

  • 2. Fine wired Whisk

Depending on your size of operation you may want to invest in 2 -3 different sizes of whisk, maybe a16” large balloon whisk for the ‘big’ jobs, a 12” for cooking crèmes & custards and maybe a smaller 8” whisk for all the delicate smaller recipes. Try to stick to the fine wired whisk’s not the thick once you see been used in the hot kitchen. In the pastry it’s all about whipping that air inside our recipes and that’s best done with the fine wired whisks.

  • 3. Rolling Pins

I usually make my own rolling pins out of wooden dowels which I buy at home hardware stores, that way I can make them to the length and dimension I prefer. Several commercial type rolling pins made out of silicon, marble, wood, with handle or without are available. A good and comfortable rolling pin is important as unless you own a commercial dough sheeter, which will do the rolling out for you, you will roll out your doughs by hand.

  • 4. Sheet Pans

The size of sheet pans you purchase are first of all determined by the size of your oven, sheet pans are pretty much standard and very similar worldwide. Solid once are great for most of your pastry application where with the higher sugar content inside the recipe you generally don’t want to have too much bottom heat to minimize the browning effect on your goodies. Invest in some perforated sheet pans if you are planning on bread baking as you will have a much better air circulation which will be beneficial for your breads.

  • 5. Silicon Mats / Wax / Parchment Paper

Silicon mats are widely available these days and will work very well to ensure none of the goodies will stick on your trays while baking. Regular wax or parchment paper will also work most of the time and it is obviously considerably cheaper than the silicon mats. Actually, every now and then it is nice to go back to the time prior to all that silicon we have these days in our kitchen and to simply go back to good old greasing with clarified butter and flour. No additional cost as you have those ingredients and nothing really will beat the lovely browning effect and flavour you will have underneath your cookies if they have been baked on a tray greased with butter and flour – nice spreading by the cookies is well!

  • 6. Pots & Pans

Choose your cook ware well, as all material will work differently and will conduct heat differently which will affect the success of your recipe. Copper will conduct heat the best and the most evenly ensuring rapid cooking and even heat conductor with the least chance of scorching. But of course they are expensive and pretty tedious to keep clean

Stainless steel pots are the most common and available ones, unfortunately stainless steel actually is a pretty poor heat conductor unless you buy the pots which are fortified with a copper bottom. But with the easy availability and affordability they will be most people’s first choice when it comes to pots and pans. Stay away from aluminum pots as the aluminum will react with any acidic substance (that’s pretty much all your fruit based recipes)and it would leave a pretty strong metallic after-taste.

Go for non-reactive stainless steel or copper pots of various size and you will be well set to start your cooking & baking

  • 7. Cake Rings

For best result and ease of work purchase stainless steel cake rings or different dimension (depending on your size of cakes you are planning to produce). Throughout the lectures I will be using mostly 5”, 6” or 8” cake rings which are 3” in height. These type of cake rings are very versatile and can be used for breads, mousse cakes, cheesecakes, sponges, pound cakes etc. They are easy to clean, easy to release your products out of it and they will last you many years to come.

  • 8. Strainer / Sieves

A very small sieve comes in handy to dust a little cocoa powder on a Tiramisu or some icing sugar on a cake or dessert, a 6” diameter fine sieve will be great to strain your sauces and ice cream bases of any unwanted bits and pieces and maybe a larger sieve for sifting your cake flour for your recipe. Stick to the fine meshed sieve for your pastry kitchen not the once with any larger holes in it, as they won’t catch any of the finer particles.

  • 9. Spatulas

Different sized off-set and straight spatulas will be required in your pastry kitchen to level or ice various different cakes and pastries. The length is certainly determined by the size of cakes and pastries you will eventually be producing, meaning if most of the cakes you will be making a 8” in diameter then you want to have a spatula with at least 9” in length and so forth. The angled or off-set spatulas are certainly most convenience when it comes to spearing sheet cakes and sponges on tray. One or two smaller spatulas will be handy for the small and details icing job might be required for smaller individual cakes and pastries.

  • Piping bags and tubes / nozzles

As you will be seen during the course of the lesson in the videos I rely on disposable food-grade plastic piping bags. They are not only convenient and inexpensive but really the most hygienic piping bag to be used in kitchen. They are available in various sizes and even in colors is well. Piping nozzles (or sometimes called tubes) are more durable if purchased in stainless steel contrary to plastic ones. Instead of buying a whole set of all available sizes I would recommend to buy only three sizes of each, plain and star nozzles. Small, medium and large, those will be sufficient in doing pretty much most if not all jobs in the pastry kitchen.

  • 10. Digital or Candy Thermometer

Either one will do the few jobs in the pastry kitchen when you really need to know the exact temperature of something. I like the digital or infrared thermometers as they tend to give you a very precise temperature without having to wait a long time, something which can be fatal in small recipes where you need an instant read. The candy thermometer are generally more expensive but certainly more handy if a longer cooking time is happening, where the candy thermometer will not require you to hold it during the cooking time.

  • 11. Wooden spoons / rubber spatulas

How could we possible bake and live without either one of them in our pastry kitchen? You will need wooden spoons (size is depending again on the size of recipes you are frequently are making) for stirring hot liquids, creaming of the butter for your pound cakes, to check the right thickness of a vanilla sauce and many more applications. And nothing really beats a heat-resistant rubber spatula

  • 12. Mixing bowls

I would recommend to stick with stainless – steel mixing bowl, which are inexpensive and widely available in various dimensions and depth is well. As most gadgets in your new pastry kitchen, the size of the to be used bowl is pretty much determined by the size of your anticipated production. Generally speaking various sizes, ranging from small to large will be helpful, what I have found in working all these years in kitchens is that you can’t really have too many mixing bowls. You need some small ones for scaling and measuring ingredients, another one for melting chocolate, more be kept in the fridge with finished crème’s and custard etc. Stay away from glass bowls, even so pretty and you can see what’s going on in the inside, glass tends to shatter ones dropped rendering your kitchen into a hazardous danger zone. Keep all kinds of glass out of your kitchen. Plastic mixing bowls are not bad, but they are lousy heat conductor so they really don’t work to well in terms melting ingredients, warming up butter for creaming etc.

  • 13. Tart shells / Pie rings etc

For tart rings, try to buy the ones with a removable base, which will facilitate lifting your finished baked, delicate creations safely out of the tart shell on to a serving plate. Various sizes are available – having a couple of dozen individual small tart shells is nice to create some more personalized tarts and of course larger ones are very presentable also. The most common ones are round but square, rectangle or oblong shaped tarts can be a very pretty alternative.

Same for the pie dishes, choose a size which fits your need, most of them will be nice and deep with a rim around the edges which will help working the base and the top dough layer together.

  • 14. Cooling racks

Can’t be without a couple of those, certainly we don’t want our freshly baked pound cake sitting any longer than necessary inside its hot loaf pan sweating away making it almost impossible to remove from it. Delicate cookies, baked to perfection and then forgotten on the still hot sheet pan will easily turn your supposed to be soft and fudgy chocolate chip cookie into a dry and crumbly chocolate chip cookie if not moved on to a cooling rack to stop the baking and to start the cooling.

As you will continue your journey into the world of baking and pastries you will quickly amass a rewarding array of tools and gadgets. And having the right tool for the right job will certainly increase your chance of success in tackling any recipes.

Different Style Of Pie Fillings

Cooked Juice Method:

The advantage of this method is that only the juice is cooked. The fruit retains better shape and flavor because it is subjected to less heat and handling. This method is used when the fruit requires little or no cooking before filling the pie.

Most canned and frozen fruits are prepared this way. Fresh berries can also be prepared with this method: part of the berries are cooked or pureed to provide juice, and the remaining berries are then mixed with the finished gel.

 

  • Drain the juice from the fruit
  • Measure the juice and, if necessary, add water or other fruit juice to bring to the desired volume
  • Bring the juice to a boil
  • Dissolve the starch in cold water and stir it into the boiling juice. Return to a boil and cook until clear and thickened
  • Add sugar, salt and flavourings. Stir until dissolved
  • Pour the thickened juice over the drained fruit and mix gently. Be careful not to break or mash the fruit.
  • Cool

 

Cooked Fruit Method:

This method is used when the fruit requires cooking or when there is not enough liquid for the cooked juice method. Most fresh fruits (except berries) are prepared this way, as are dried fruits such as raisins and dried apricots. Canned fruits should not be prepared by this method because they have already been cooked and are likely to break up or turn to mush.

  • Bring the fruit and juice or water to a boil. Some sugar may be added to the fruits to draw out juice
  • Dissolve the starch in cold water and stir into the fruit. Return to a boil and cook until clear and thickened. Stir while cooking
  • Add sugar, salt, flavourings, and other ingredients. Stir until dissolved.
  • Cool as quickly as possible
 

Old Fashioned Method:

This method is commonly used for homemade apple pies and peach pies. However, it is not often used in food service operations because of its disadvantages. First the thickening of the juices is more difficult to control. Second, because raw fruit shrinks as it cooks, it is necessary to pile the fruit high into the shell.

The fruit then shrinks, often leaving a large air space between the crust and fruit, and the top crust becomes misshapen. The juices given off are most likely to boil over than when the filling is cooked and the juice thickened before filling the pie.

For these reasons, the cooked fruit method usually gives better results than the old-fashioned method.

  • Mix the starch and spices with the sugar until uniformly blended.
  • Mix the fruit with the sugar mixture
  • Fill the unbaked pie shells with the fruit
  • Place lumps of butter on top of the filling
  • Cover with top crust or streusel

Preparing To Bake

VERY IMPORTANT! Read every recipe entirely once before beginning to bake!

Make sure you understand all the required techniques, read the working method and any notes given and try to picture in your mind step by step what has to be done. Before you even start scaling you will have to try to get a clear picture in your mind of what has to be done and what kind of steps it will take to accomplish your recipe.

Always read the recipe from top to bottom, a well written recipe will list the ingredients not in alphabetical order or such but in the order they are required. Any gaps in the written recipe will indicate separate work steps.

Understand the yield of the recipe and be comfortable in scaling to the required amount.

If there are any questions or any doubts about any aspects of a given recipe, this is the time to ask, don’t try to accomplish the recipe if you are not 100% sure. Pastry and Bakery work can be very technical and most of the times mistakes can not be rectified, also working with chocolate, nuts, cream, fruits etc is expensive. It is cheaper to ask for advise then to have to start an recipe all over again.

VERY IMPORTANT! Scale precisely and accurately.

 

Pastry and Bakery work is based on formulas (Recipes) and even a fluctuation or inaccurate scaling of just a few grams or ounces can result in a different Cake or Pastry.

All ingredients in a recipe do have a vital role and in not adding one, contrary to working in the hot kitchen, your baked goods will surely not turn out as they are expected to be.

Before you even start scaling your recipe take into consideration what utensils you will need for the recipe you are doing. Get your baking tray, grease your moulds, sharp your knifes, set your oven temperature etc. Only when you seen that you have all your required tools on stand by – start scaling your recipe.

If you are new to the field and / or if you are working with a recipe which you have never tried before and are not totally comfortable with, scale your required ingredients in separate bowls. Whenever you are comfortable in your kitchen and with recipes, work on your efficiency, scale your ingredients together in groups to minimize an over usage of scaling containers (cutting down on cleaning time and running time). For example if a receipt method asks to ‘ cream your sugar, butter and flavorings together’ feel comfortable enough to scale your sugar, butter, salt, vanilla, lemon etc right away in the to be used mixing bowl. It saves you time and it keeps your work area less clustered and it also cuts down on either your time or the stewarding departments time in cleaning up all your scaling containers.

 

 

 

VERY IMPORTANT! It takes the SAME amount of time to do the recipe wrong, as it does to do it right!

 

Meaning there are really no shortcuts in Pastry or Bakery, every working method is resulting directly in the success of your baked product. A chocolate needs to be tempered, a bread has to proven a certain time, your butter has to be creamed in a pound cake. Pastry and especially Bakery is based on thousands of years experience and the way we work today is already the most efficient and best way to produce our Cakes, Chocolates, Bread etc.

Kitchenaid & Pastry Commercial Mixers

Kitchen Aid & Pastry Mixers

To experience the texture and kneading process we will whisk, knead and mix our doughs and batters by hand and also sometimes smaller quantities in the Kitchen Aid Mixer and larger Volumes in the Large Pastry Mixer.

Kitchen Aid Mixer

 

Professional Pastry Mixer

Both Mixing Machines come with three attachments, a dough hook or arm for kneading doughs (firm – hard textures), a Pastry Paddle for beating and mixing cake batters or light doughs (soft to firm textures) and a Whisk to whisk up light materials such as Cream, Sabayon, Meringues (light – soft textures).

Dough Hook / Arm

Pastry Paddle

Whisk

 

Choose your attachment according to the work which has to be done, using a whisk for a light yeast dough could result in breakage of the whisk.

Never, ever add ingredients to a mixing machine while still in motion, turn off the machine and wait until the machine comes to an complete stop before adding any ingredients to it.

Turn the machine back on at slow speed and once the ingredient is incorporated return to the required kneading or mixing speed.

If it is required to scrape the sides of your mixing bowl in the machine together, stop the machine, wait until it came to a complete stop and then use your rubber spatula for scraping the sides together. Never try to do this while the machine is still in motion and refrain from using your hands to scrap mixing bowls.

Before starting mixing or kneading in any of the Pastry Mixers, ensure that your mixing bowl and attachment is firmly attached on the machine and that the safety hooks are securing the bowl on the machine.

Once finished using the Kitchen Aid or Pastry Mixer, transfer your finished dough or batter into a clean mixing bowl, wash and return the all used Equipments. Minimize the time we spend looking for equipments or tools, after use wash and return.

Pastry Bakery Ovens

Pastry Bakery Ovens

Whenever a Recipe indicates a given baking time and Temperature, take it only as a guide or suggestion.

Every oven bakes differently, get to know your oven and observe for the first few times of usage how your baked goods are reacting in the oven. My oven, here at my school, is especially designed for Bakery / Pastry goods. It is an electric oven, without any air-circulation, which means I don’t have to turn my trays to achieve even browning. Where the Convection and Stove Top oven maybe require a occasional turning of the trays to achieve an evenly colored Pastry or Bread.

Unless you are using a recipe developed for convention ovens, you should reduce the suggested oven temperature by 25 degrees and reduce the baking time by 10 to 20 percent.

Ovens are shared many times, be aware of what is baking inside the oven before open the door, don’t open the oven doors when, for example, Soufflés, Puff Pastry, Sponges are in the oven. The created draft of cold air when the doors are open will surely deflate the baked goods inside.

 

Same goes for temperature adjustments, don’t change the temperature while baked goods are still in the oven (unless the recipe asks for it).

 

 

Try not to rely on the stated baking time, observe what’s happening inside the oven and check frequently, take your goods out off the oven when they are ready not when the time given in a recipe is expired.

Recipe Conversions

Recipe Conversions

All written recipes are not only formulas but also ingredients amounts and recipe yields. When executing a recipe, more often than not you may desire a different (new) yield, either less or more than the recipe yield, which means you’ll need to gather different amount of ingredients, either less or more than the recipe amounts.

To determine these amounts, you need to find the ratio factor and multiply this factor to each recipe ingredient amount.

 

The recipe conversion formula is:

 

  •   Conversion Ratio Factor = New (desired) yield

 

Recipe yield

 

For example, if the recipe for a cake yields 4 kg (or even 4 pieces, depending on you knowledge of what size of ‘piece’ the recipe refers to) and I want to make 8 kg (piece), logic tells me I’ll need double the amount of each recipe ingredients (8/4 = 2 CRF).

If I want to make only 2 kg (or pieces), then I’ll need only half the amount of recipe ingredients (2/4 = 0.5 CRF).

How do I convert a recipe which yield is stated in slice, piece or cake?

If it doesn’t mention the exact measurements of the stated yield it can’t be properly converted as the volume where the cake was baked is unknown.

 

 

It always helps for future reference to write down an exact yield on each recipe in either metric or imperial (i.a. one recipe produces 3 kg / 6 lbs of pound cake, one crème Brulee recipe produces 2 lit / 4 pints) or in exact dimension of the volume used (i.a. one recipe produces 6 pound cakes of 6” x 2”, one crème Brulee recipe produces 32 ramekins of 2” diameter.

Measurements / Metric System / Conversion

Below are a few tips & tricks which you might want to read through and review as you get started in your new field of Pastry Arts.

a.) Weights: measures mass of Ingredients, products; solids; liquids.

 

  • US / Imperial: ounces (oz), pounds (Ibs)
  • Metric: grams (g), kilograms (kg)
  • Conversions:1 ounce = 28.4 grams
  • 1 pound = 16 ounces = (16 x 28.4g) = 454 grams
  • 1 kilogram = 1000 grams = (1000 / 454) = 2.2 pounds

 

b.) Volume: measures amount of space ingredient occupies; liquids; flour, sugar.

 

  • US / Imperial: teaspoons (tsp), tablespoons (tbs), cups, fluid onces (fl.oz), quarts
  • Metric: milliliters (ml), liters (L)
  • Conversions:1 tsp = 5 ml
  • 1 tbs = 3 tsp = 15 ml
  • 1 fl.oz = 29.6 ml
  • 1 cup = 8 fl.oz = (8 x 29.6 ml) = 237 ml (standard = 240 ml)

 

But of course it depends on the material measured, that’s why the margin of errors in scaling with cup measurements is potential to large

 

  • 1 liter = 1000 ml
  • 1 quart = 4 cups = (4 x 237) = 948 ml = 0.948 liter
  • 1/4 cup = 4 tbs
  • 1 quart = 2 pints
  • 1 gallon = 4 quarts

 

c.) Temperature: measures heat.

 

  • US: Fahrenheit (F)
  • Metric: Celsius (C)

 

Conversions:

 

  • C to F:F= (C x 1.8) + 32
  • F to C:C= (F – 32) / 1.8
  • Water freezes at 32F / 0C
  • Water Boils at 212F / 100C