Cupcake Tools and Equipment Guide
Cooling Rack: Circulating air cools down cakes quickly to preserve the best texture.
Skewers: Bamboo skewers are Food Network Kitchen chefs' favorite cake testers, but toothpicks work just fine, and so does a paring knife, for that matter (you’ll be icing over the cut anyway).
Mixing Bowls: Have three — a small, medium and large — that measure from about a quart to up to 2 quarts. Food Network Kitchen chefs like deep stainless steel bowls, as they are light and durable. Glass bowls are popular too. Nesting bowls save storage space.
Timer: This is the most-accurate way to project when cupcakes might be done — and it happens fast with cupcakes.
Measuring Cups: Have a 2- or 4-cup spouted transparent glass or plastic measuring cup for wet ingredients (think water, oil and milk). Also, have a set of flat-topped measuring cups in 1-cup, 1/2-cup, 1/3-cup and 1/4-cup measures for dry ingredients like flour, sugar and cocoa.
Muffin Tins: Two 12-cup tins will do for most occasions. Two 24-cup mini tins make a nice addition. Food Network Kitchen chefs use sturdy nonstick metal ones with a rolled edge.
Whisk: A nice, big, sturdy whisk is the original hand mixer, great for stirring together dry ingredients or whipping by hand.
Measuring Spoons: Have one set of measuring spoons with tablespoons, teaspoons, 1/2 teaspoons and 1/4 teaspoons, preferably in metal, and keep them connected by a ring.
Liners: These help cupcakes release from the tins, keep the cakes moist, and make for easy and clean handling. Plus, they can add an element of style with color or pattern. Silicone or foil liners can be used alone on a baking sheet.
Wooden Spoon: They're good for stirring ingredients together.
Flexible Spatula: Have a narrow, a medium (with or without a scoop) and a large flat one for folding ingredients into a batter or scraping every last drop out of the mixing bowl. Silicone is a Food Network Kitchen favorite because it’s heatproof.
Squeeze Bottles: They're a simple, easy-to-clean alternative to pastry bags, and they make it easier to work with loose fillings and decorative icings. These inexpensive additions to your kitchen are great tools for making your cupcakes look like a pro baked them.
Pastry Bag: Sealable plastic bags with the corner snipped off will work well enough, but the ease of using a real pastry bag makes having one or two worthwhile. Look for flexible, washable plastic or cloth. Keep a stash of disposables if you use lots of colors of icing at one time.
Basic Pastry Tip Set: Start with a basic set plus a couple of big tips, and build from there. Lots of brands exist, but Ateco and Wilton are widely available.
Electric Hand-Held Mixer: Cream butter and sugar with ease, and whip egg whites and cream to firm peaks. Some mixers come with various attachments and built-in timers.
Rolling Pin: Small plastic or silicone rolling pins are an inexpensive addition for fondant creations.
Melon Baller: Scoop tops out of cupcakes to make pockets for fillings.
Offset Spatula: A 3- or 4-inch spatula makes spreading fillings and swirling frostings a snap. A medium size is a great tool for filling pastry bags or other bigger projects.
Fine-Mesh Strainer: Those old-fashioned hand sifters might inspire nostalgia, but shaking dry ingredients through a mesh strainer works just as well. They're also great for dustings of confectioners' sugar.
Parchment: Parchment comes in handy for lining baking sheets and moving sifted ingredients.
Stand Mixer: The Rolls-Royce of the baker's kitchen, a stand mixer makes whipping everything together easy and quick — and it looks good doing it.
Canvas Pastry Bags: Canvas pastry bags are good because they are washable, extremely durable and green.
Scale: Avid bakers sometimes prefer the accuracy that comes with weighing ingredients; it helps with measuring mix-ins, like chopped chocolate or fruit.
Couplers: These are little plastic collars that allow you to easily change tips on piping bags. It's a good idea to have two or three if you might make more than one icing at a time.
Advanced Pastry Tip Kit: There are several sizes for every type of shape, and each has its own numbering system. But don't stress it; play around and have fun.