Updated: Jan 25
A few bits and pieces I would recommend that will make baking with smalls that bit easier and reduce the mess. You can click on the pics to buy, but you can also get similar items in most supermarkets, pound shops and kitchen stores. They don't have to be expensive bit of kit. Places like Morrisons and Wilko often have surprisingly good baking kit.
The essential bits you need to get started if you are totally new to baking and your kit cupboard is bare.
Set of mixing bowls. Of course, you can use any bowls, Tupperware, pans, receptacle of your choice. I keep almost all plastic food containers and wash them out to use for holding ingredients and sprinkles. They key is having a few things that are big enough to hold several ingredients of a bake at once and are nice and wide for your small one to scoop things out of or in to. Bowls that nest like these are also a bonus as they take up less room in your cupboard.
Spoon Measures. Almost every recipe you use will have measurements in teaspoons and tablespoons. Often these are the of the most crucial ingredients like baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. Wrong amounts of these are often responsible for baking disasters. The easiest and most accurate way to measure is a set of spoon measures. I find the stainless steel ones more hard wearing and we also like to use them in imaginative play, water play and in sand and rice.
High sided scoops. Much like the kind you get at the pick & mix counter. Often they're sold as pet food scoops! I found ours in out local kitchen shop, but they're pretty easy to come across. If your little one likes to scoop and pour the ingredients, a set of these will let them add ingredients to the bowl with much less mess that a spoon. I use ours for all sorts. They're great for sensory and water play too.
Measuring cup set. It used to be that these were only useful if you had American recipe books where, but this way of weighing out is more common these days. Lots of easily googled recipes etc. If you have a little one who does like to measure out, then letting them scoop the right number of cups from a big bowl of one ingredient is much easier and less messy than trying to weigh up the old fashioned way and still good for numeracy.
A set of basic biscuit cutters. These fluted scone cutters are brilliantly multi-functional. The frilly side can used to make pretty biscuits, flower shapes, lion heads, curly haired face biscuits and more. Turn them upside down and use the straight edge for circles, wheels, balloons, faces. the list is endless. These will cut fondant icing too, obviously can make scones, be used with play-dough for pretend baking and also great for colour sorting games!
An old baby bottle is great for pre measuring liquids. It's easy for a small hand to hold and tip into a bowl. Less spillage than with a jug.
A basic set of cake pans and baking trays. The key to not getting overwhelmed when baking with smalls is not over baking. Your family isn't going to eat 24 cupcakes or a 25cm cake in one weekend. Keep it small. Keep it simple. 15cm cake pans are big enough for a nice Victoria Sponge or a three tier party cake. Buy springform. The clasp on the side makes cakes super easy to get out.
A good non stick baking tray. Essential for biscuit baking. Always line with greaseproof despite the non stick.
A 12 hole muffin tin. Deep enough to make
American sized cupcakes in muffin cases, but can also be used for more tradition fairy buns, Yorkshire puddings (so easy to do with smalls) and mini cakes. I don't often buy branded baking kit, as often you are simply paying for the name, but I've found these Wilton trays the easiest to clean, so I think they're worth a few more pennies.
A selection of cake cases.There are different sizes of cake case. Classic fairy bun (baking cups), 'buffin' (cupcake and muffin. Most modern cupcakes are baked in muffin cases. They are deep cases. Personally, I've never seen a toddler or little one finish anything this size and it's mostly icing. I like a nostalgic fairy bun for anything that's not a show piece. Buying in bulk is by far the cheapest way to buy these and having a range of colours in stock means you will always have something to match any theme you might have.
These are also brilliant for imaginative play set ups. Use them for scooping and filling with beans, beads or seeds. Use them in your play kitchen. Use them for colour sorting or even crafting. They make very cute lolly stick flowers. Don't forget to download your free fairy cake recipe card from the bottom of my homepage here and check out my quickest cupcake recipe and easy icing.
You've got the baking bug and do it regularly enough now that spending a little bit more to make it easier still sounds like a good idea.
I first bought one of these for fondant icing work, but it's proved invaluable for baking with the smalls. Nothing sticks to it, which makes cleaning up a breeze. I use this for rolling out biscuits, scone dough - even play dough!
A wire cooling rack. Putting cakes or biscuits on one of these to cool will speed the process up and make sure the bakes taste better as they will cool as evening as they cook. But you can, of course, just put things on a chopping board. See my post of top tips for less stressful baking for ideas about cutting down the time it takes to bake.
An Icing Sugar Sifter.
There's no bake that can't be improved by a quick sprinkling of icing sugar, and this is an easy way to do that and smalls will love making it snow! These are also handy for using with cake stencils to give an easy professional finish to a simple cake.
The easiest way to finish a cake. Place on top of the cake, sift over some icing sugar or cocoa powder and lift off. Voila. You can also make your own bespoke stencilS quite easily. See my Victoria Sponge post for more details.
Tuff Tray. If you don't already have one of these for imaginative and sensory play, they're a good investment for baking too. Setting up a bake on a Tuff Tray means little ones can access ingredients from all angles, sit or lie in the tray and get as close as possible to the mixing bowl. This all gives them more independence and control. Even better, the rimmed tray catches all the mess and you can easily sweep it up with a dustpan and brush at the end.
Ice cream scoop. If you like making cupcakes and fairy buns then this is a really useful piece of kit for splodging mixture into cases. It will give you level cupcakes and reduce drippy mess. If you make a lot of these then a set like this with varying sizes can be useful for not a lot extra.
Toddler Knives might seems a contradiction in terms, but these are brilliant if you want to involve your little ones in prepping a bake - or any cooking for that matter. My biggest loves chopping fruit for crumbles and pies. They cut when used with a sawing motion, but won't cut little fingers.
A recipe book stand. You can get much more aesthetically pleasing ones of these, but they don't need to be fancy. The key is that it keeps your nice recipe book, iPad, phone or laptop out of the range for splatty cake mix, flour dust or sticky icing sugar! It also means you can keep your gaze up, so you won't get distracted and are more likely to pre-empt the small's attempt to wear the mixing bowl.
Silicone rolling pins for you and smalls. I first started using one of these for fondant work when I was making a lot of celebration cakes and cake toppers. However, they have been invaluable when working with biggest small. You can roll dough without it sticking and the clean up is so much easier. I like to have one for me and a mini one that is easier for her to handle. This means you can have the luxury of easy rolling if you are making biscuits in advance for a quick decorating only activity with the smalls.
These mini ones in bright colours are gorgeous, my two have a normal mini one like mine because I use it when I'm doing icing work and they like to match mummy. It saves money on greaseproof paper, as the other way to prevent sticking and toddler frustration is to roll dough between two sheets of greaseproof.
Royal Icing Mix
I always have a massive bag of this in the cupboard. It's not cheap, but it is by far the easiest way to do any kind of biscuit decorating. Icing made with normal icing sugar will always be runny, transparent and sticky. This stuff needs very little water and can be spread thick like peanut butter and dries solid. Less mess. It tastes better too. You can make up one batch, divide it and colour them differently and it keeps in the fridge (covered with a slightly damp J-Cloth) for a week, so you can always make it in advance or do a bake over the course of a couple of days.
Sugar Flair Food Colouring. Again, not a cheap purchase, but a few primary colours will keep you busy for years. These paste colours are the best in the business if you ask me and you need the tiniest tip of a cocktail stick's (also something worth having in stock) worth of it to colour a whole bowl of icing. No mess and magical for the smalls to stir in. Works with any kind of icing.
Loose bottomed is key to avoiding stress when removing pies from their tins. Just pop it out and serve it on the bottom of the tin. No fussy spatula antics for you. These guys are pretty versatile. Pies, crumbles, tarts...the pudding options are endless. They're worth having in the cupboard.
Advanced Kit List
You already bake regularly yourself, but have been nervous about baking with your small ones, or you usually only bake one thing and would be happy to expand your gadgetry to help make it easier.
Flexible dough scraper.
Mr Bakefulplay's go to gadget for getting bread dough out of a bowl, shaping it, cutting it and generally wrangling it.
Baking Stone. If you want to get serious about bread, baking it on one of these will make all the difference. You heat the ceramic stone as you preheat the oven. They heat more evenly than a normal baking tray and gives the dough a strong burst of initial heat, puffing up the yummy crust.
Set of PME icing tips. Confident enough to be baking without your small ones? Want to add finishing details to their bakes? A set of these will help you pipe a variety of easy decorative touches. There are lots of brands out there, but this set from PME is a perfect starter set and I find them to be incredibly good quality and long lasting.
A roll of disposable piping bags is also useful. These large ones can be used by you cut down to be small enough to be handled by children. I use a reusable piping bag because I'm trying to reduce throw away plastic, but if you're not a frequent iced, then these are very useful.