My collection is a mish-mash of impulsive buys, op-shop finds, chain-store basics and most recently, the gorgeous Crow Canyon Home marbled enamelware. The baking equipment I use regularly are cupcake tins, bundt tins, long fluted tart tins and my Swiss roll tins not just for Swiss rolls, but toasting nuts, making nougatine, chocolate shards - so many uses!
One of my greatest sources of inspiration and information is books and it is something I happily spend my money on. Some of my all-time favourite cookbooks are "Patisserie" by Christopher Felder, "The Flavour Bible" by Karen Page & Andrew Dorenburg, "Bouchon" by Thomas Keller, "Zumbo" by Adriano Zumbo and most recently, "Dining In" by Alison Roman, "The Tivoli Road Baker" by Michael James and "Ostro" by Julia Bussuttil Nishimura.
I use Mondo anodised aluminium cake tins for their performance, durability and lifetime guarantee. I have a wide range from 6" - 12" suitable for every occasion.
There is no turntable that reigns more supreme than the Ateco 612. It has a heavy cast iron base and aluminium top which has never crumbled under any of the cakes I've assembled - and there's been some big ones! It's got a non slip rubber pad and the top always spins nicely. Everywhere I've worked commercially, this is the turntable of choice.
I use a Canon EOS 600D as I am an absolute beginner and find it very user friendly, and compact enough for my small hands. If the lighting is bright, my iPhone can take a decent photo, (it took this one!) and there are a few sneaky ones here and there. I have my eye on a Panasonic Lumix for its 4K video capability and compact size.
I use a MacBook Air with 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor and 512GB SSDstorage. I find it adequate for blogging, browsing and editing photos, however yet to test it on video editing, in particular 4K editing.
Entremet / Layer Cake Rings
These rings from Executive Chef are perfect for mousse cakes, layer cakes or cheesecakes and are reasonably priced as well. They are heavy, which I like, as it means they're sturdy and will keep their shape.
My wonderful sister gifted me a Philips food processor /blender set for Christmas 2015 and it is still going strong. I use it quite regularly, 2-3 times a week, and put it through long batterings of nut butters, garlic toum and romesco. I also love the little spice blender and use it quite often to mince garlic and ginger or make a quick dressing.
I love adding a torched element to a dish for the flavour and theatrics. There's nothing better than torching cheese on top of kimchi fried rice, it elevates it to something spectacular with a melty, smoky richness. I've also used it on pork belly, where the cold spots in the oven refuse to crackle. Watch closely as it will burn quickly! I use the Quick Fit Torch Head by Vogue, which is a powerful little unit that just screws onto the top of any small gas bottle, saving the hassle of refilling.
Glass Measuring Jugs
I like to use glass jugs for heating items that need to stay warm, such as milk or ganache. They are also perfect for pouring canelé batter into moulds. I love these Pyrex measuring jugs as they are practical with cup, metric and imperial measures and have a classic, retro feel.
There is no comparison in terms of quality and longevity when it comes to selecting a zester. Microplane uses surgical grade stainless steel and they shave, not grate, which is my number one reason for choosing them. This results in the zestiest zest without the bitter pith. I also use it to shave hard cheeses onto a meal for a quick melt.
Another gift from my lovely sister, I am the proud owner of a Kenwood Chef. I love this machine, the power it has for a domestic machine is quite impressive. I do however, find it too small for the quantities of buttercream and cake batters I need to make for special occasion cakes. It is perfect for a batch of cupcakes or a double layer cake, enough shortcrust pastry for 4 large quiches, a couple of pizza bases or a buttery loaf of golden brioche.
Whilst I own about 10 palette knives, there are only two that I use on an everyday basis, three if there's an occasion cake on. Most are by the Japanese brand, Loyal, and are made from stainless steel with a black plastic handle. I prefer the black plastic to the wooden handle as it feels more ergonomic and moulded to my hand.
The two I use regularly are a Loyal straight black handle 100mm and an unmarked cranked black handle 150mm. If I'm doing an occasion cake I also like to use a Loyal straight handle 150mm to help spread frosting around the edges. Cranked is better for finishing the top, making swirls etc, straight is best for sides and edges.
My piping bags of choice are Moooi bags as they are green which makes the little tops you cut off easily distinguishable and they also have a smooth, matte finish. They feel really nice to work with and don't make any sticky or squeaky noises.
Whilst I probably own about 50 piping nozzles / tips, I would say I regularly use only 5.
Essentials to my collection are plastic round tips by Loyal in all sizes from 1-20. I use these for everything, from piping choux, cookies, filling tarts to decorative blobs on cakes or cupcakes in any size. I also own the Loyal plastic star tubes, but don't use them as often. My favourite decorative tips are a large French tip for big, sharply defined blobs, an open star for roses and a St Honore tip to pipe soft wavy zig zags.
Plastic Chocolate Bowls
My chocolate tempering preference of choice is to do a seeded microwave temper. After years of tabling I find the process messy and not always 100% foolproof for all the extra work created. I find these Araven plastic bowls perfect as they don't retain heat in the same way glass does.
I love my rolling pin as it is heavy and sturdy, has handles so I can apply pressure evenly and is made of beautiful Carrara marble. This makes it perfect for pastry as marble is naturally cool to touch, and pastry needs a cool environment.
Without a scale, I cannot bake. Cooking I can wing it to a certain extent. The results won't be consistent, nor will they possibly be their best version, but I can create something edible. In pastry, that is near impossible. Pastry is precision, to the gram, and I would be lost without my kitchen scales. I invested in this commercial set by Ausweigh because I was tired of low maximum loads, small surfaces that my bowl would cover entirely (therefore covering up the display) and scales that would turn themselves off within a couple of minutes of inactivity. I also have a set of micro scales for those times when you need .5g of something or have to weigh rose petals. It happens. Maybe not enough to warrant the scales as absolute essential, but if something is that precise to need .5 of a gram, I do not fudge with that.
These little plastic utensils are the bobby-pins of any pastry chef's toolbox. Cheap and forever going missing, no matter how many you have or swear to always keep in the same spot. These flexible scrapers (the blue one pictured above) are indispensable for getting every last bit out of any shaped bowl and scooping out frosting or batter. I also have a large metal Loyal scraper used for decorating tall cakes with buttercream and a smaller wooden handled scraper for decorating smaller cakes, dividing dough or cleaning toffee off a bench!
Not only used for sifting or straining, but to dust goods with icing sugar or cocoa for rustic charm. I use my mini and 70mm sieves to dust cakes, slices or tarts depending on the size. I use a drum sieve to sift flour, strain curds or anglais and love how it can rest over a bowl and take the weight for bigger recipes like my ginger cake.
As a lover of smoky Islay whiskies, smoked Danish cheeses and smoked meats, my ever generous sister gifted me a PolyScience Smoking Gun for my birthday. I love experimenting on everything, from sweet to savoury as it's quick and easy to use and delivers a mild or intense smoky hit pre or post cooking. I've had some success with smoked apple sauce, smoked chocolate ganache and smoked garlic toum. Expect many more smoked recipes to appear here!
What is life for a pastry chef without spatulas!?! I use Trenton heat resistant spatulas for anything where you need to mix, fold or incorporate. I even worked somewhere where they would make ganache in the microwave and keep the spatula in the bowl and it would not melt! For anglais, ganaches, gels or anything more fluid I have a flimsier headed spatula I like to use.
Stainless Steel Bowls
I have a collection of Vogue Stainless Steel Bowls in sizes from one to eight litres. Even though these are more expensive, I prefer them as they are thicker and have higher sides. I use these for absolutely everything. They are definitely one of my most used items so it pays to be wise with your choice of bowl.
Stick Mixer / Immersion Blender
Another indispensable kitchen item with a wide range of uses from emulsifying ganache, fixing a split anglais, making fluid gels and purees. Whilst a Robo-Coupe Stick mixer is on my dream kitchen list, in the meantime, this $20 Woolworths mixer does a pretty good job!
Similar to kitchen scales, a thermometer is an essential item to a pastry chef. As precision is key with sugar work, and a few degrees higher can take you from soft ball to hard ball of sugar stage, take away the guesswork and invest in a digital thermometer that can read to a maximum of 300 degrees celsius. I like this Hypiglas Easytemp thermometer as it has a wrist strap which I always use, as many a time I've killed a thermometer by losing it in a pool of hot sugar syrup.
Whisks are great for creating air and volume in ingredients such as eggs and cream, but I tend to use a mixer with a whisk attachment for that purpose as it is faster. I use Vogue hand whisks for combining eggs and sugar when making an anglais or mixing bicarb into liquids for cakes.