Episode 02: Tools of the Trade, Part 2


Hey folks, Neon here. Before we get to the proper introduction to the show, I’ve got a couple of things to say. First, I have wildly overestimated episode length. At this point, I’m shooting for longer than 15 minutes for each episode. Second, there’s a couple of parts that were re-recorded in post and as such, they sound a bit different than the rest of the episode. That’s it for me, let’s turn this over to your host, Neon.

Hi there! Come on in and have a seat. I’ve just made some oat milk mochas, let me grab you one. I’m Neon, and welcome to Mise en Podcast.

[Fade in music, carefree by Kevin MacLeod]

Welcome to our second episode! Today, we’re going to continue on from our previous episode as we still have many more kitchen implements to talk about. Now, If you haven’t listened to Episode One, don’t worry. The topic is somewhat the same and you can listen right after this episode! This one is going to be longer than episode one, as we’re trying to make sure the majority of kitchen implements are covered. Add to that our House Special, we’re in for an episode that hopefully you’ll find entertaining, informative, and enjoyable. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

And we’re going to start with a subject that can be a bit divisive for some. Uni-taskers. More specifically, zesters. While I’m not a fan of uni-taskers, a zester is one of those tools that I feel every kitchen needs. The amount of lemons I zest in a week is pretty wild, and while I can buy dried lemon zest, this tool helps save me money and offers me a better taste from the fresh zest. Additionally, I’ve found that you can actually use a microplane grater to zest nutmeg!

Moving right along, our next item is the food processor. A food processor is a wonderful tool that can replace numerous other tools in your kitchen. However, they can be costly and might not be used enough to justify the cost for a home baker or home cook. While I use one daily, it wasn’t until I was baking from scratch that I actually needed one. I love the Cuisinart we have at the café, but I don’t really have a need for one at home right now. I would rate this a something nice to have if you’re going to use it.

Feeling that change of season? Convenient, because it’s time to talk about thermometers, a must have in any kitchen. Of course, there are different types of thermometers you could get, so let’s walk through some. The best one any kitchen should have is an instant-read thermometer. I personally love Thermo-Works. They make a wide range of thermometers that are pretty easy and intuitive to use. Another must-have is an oven thermometer. This little guy just rests in the oven, giving you a better idea of what your oven’s temperature actually is. Unless your oven is brand-new (and even then), chances are it will have warm and cool spots. The oven thermometer is great at helping you figure out where those spots are, and allowing a more even bake! Now, the final thermometer that we’ll talk about is a candy thermometer. These come in traditional and digital versions. I use a digital one when making buttercream because I need to know when my syrup is at 235 degrees Fahrenheit exactly. At the very least, an instant-read thermometer is a must. A candy thermometer is a nice to have, but if you’ve got a good quality instant-read, then you can get by with that.

Cooling racks are simple wire racks that are used for cooling cookies, cakes, pies, well most things, really. In these, I’ve found that you get what you pay for. While you don’t need super expensive ones from William-Sonoma, ones that you find at Dollar Tree are probably not your best bet. These are another must have for any kitchen, be it home or professional.

What is baking without the classic round pan? The round pan is what gives cakes their lovely round shape. Once again though, you do get what you pay for. I personally prefer a heavier, professional grade pan when baking. While cheaper ones will work just fine, I’ve found that they aren’t as durable. That being said, if that’s what you can afford, then there is nothing wrong with that. Now, these pans do come in a variety of sizes, but unless you’re looking to make multi-tiered cakes, I’ve found that a 9″ pan works just fine for most things. I would rate these as a must-have. At least one. Alternatively, you could also go with a square pan. Both are great and serve roughly the same purpose, but I find that I use the round pan far more.

Since we just finished up with your standard round and square cake pans, we’re going to touch briefly on specialty pans. Now there are a myriad of specialty pans out there. But the ones I use most are the 12 cup bundt pan, and a springform pan. While none of these are necessary, they are nice to have. However, there are conversions out there that can help you migrate a recipe to a pan you already have, and we will cover that in a future episode.

Here’s where we talk about springform and bundt pans. Now, I’ve combined these as they are both specialty pans and they won’t take much time to talk about. First, the springform is most notable for being used in making cheesecakes! But, they do have many more uses. They are great for helping to remove a large cake from a pan without causing too much damage to the sides of the cake. I generally use these for cakes that won’t fit in a regular round pan, cakes with multiple layers that can be self-contained, and cakes that have a caramelized topping. The easy release side makes removing the cakes a breeze. The bundt pan is great for having an even bake throughout the cake. This is achieved thanks to the tube running up the center. It helps everything bake evenly. While both of these are great, neither is absolutely necessary for the home baker.

We’ve been talking for a bit, and it looks like you could use a refill. Let me top off your mocha as I tell you about this week’s House Special

[Coffee shop sounds]

Welcome to The House Special, the part of the show where I talk about something tasty to drink!

Keeping with the theme of chocolate, today we’re going to be making oat milk mochas! This will require a special tool, but one that can be picked up relatively cheaply. We’re going to need a milk frother. Plus, that thermometer that we talked about earlier.

Let’s start with a list of ingredients. First, we want a good chocolate sauce. Like the kind you pour over ice cream. Remember, the better quality ingredients you get, the better product you can make. But, please don’t buy just the most expensive things you can find if you can’t actually afford it. We’re also going to want oat milk. For this, I am using Oatly’s Barista edition. I’ve found these at some coffee shops and my local co-op. You can also order them online, but be warned! As of recording, there is a backlog on these drinks and I have yet to find them on shelves for longer than a couple of hours. Oatly’s Oat Milk is insanely popular. So, if you can’t get it, don’t worry. There are other oat milk varieties out there. Finally, you want about two shots worth of espresso.

The hardest part here of making this is going to be the milk. If you happen to have an espresso machine with a steam wand, you’re all set! Go ahead and get that frothed up nicely. If not, pour a mug’s worth of oat milk into a saucepan and heat it on medium-low. You want to bring it to about 165°F. That’s about 74°C. While the milk is heating, you want to add the chocolate and espresso to the mug of your choice, stirring to mix the two together.

Once the milk is up to temperature, go ahead and froth it up! It shouldn’t take too long as there probably isn’t going to be a lot of oat milk. When it’s nice and frothy, or it’s frothed to your liking, go ahead and carefully pour it in the mug with the chocolate espresso mixture.

And that’s it! This is one of my favorite drinks featuring alternative milk, and it’s pretty easy to make.

And with that, let’s get back to the show.

[Outro of coffee shop noises]

Well, I hope you enjoyed that, and I see you have a fresh mocha, so let’s get back to it!

I think we all familiar with the standard muffin tin. As with cake pans, these can come in different sizes and amounts. I’ve seen jumbo muffin tins with room for only four muffins, and mini tins with room for 36 muffins. Your standard 12 muffin tin should be sufficient for the home baker. I would rate this a nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.

The next item is something you probably already have! It’s the basic sheet pan. And it’s great for most things that you put in the oven! You can find them in rimmed and rimless varieties and in lots of different sizes. I find that a rimmed sheet pan gives you more flexibility of usage as it’s great for keeping things contained. This though is a must-have for any kitchen.

The offset spatula is one of my favorite things in the kitchen. However, it’s not necessary. It’s great for icing cakes or smoothing out dough, but it’s not something I use often at home. I do use it frequently at work, but the home baker might not have much use for it.

Here’s another pan that you might already have! It’s the standard loaf pan. This is pretty straight forward. If you find yourself baking bread more often than not, these can be a lifesaver. As with any other pan, they come in different shapes and sizes! They are nice to have for bread, but they are not necessary for most of what we’ll be baking

Sometimes known as a strainer, sifter, sieve, or any other variety of names, this fine-meshed tool is invaluable in the kitchen. It’s there to help you strain out liquids, fine particles, sift flour or powdered sugar, and it helps you do so much more. I can’t say much else about this right now, other than it is a must-have for the kitchen.

Though last on this list, the humble cutting board certainly isn’t least. The cutting board is another invaluable tool for your kitchen. They help prevent unnecessary damage to your knives, they offer a place to cut nearly anything while keeping your counter mostly clean. One thing I would caution is to not use the same cutting board you cut raw meat on for anything to do with baking. Once again, this is another must-have.

Before we move on to this episode’s Teaspoon Tips, I would just like to say that I know we’ve not covered every implement in the kitchen. and we will cover more as we progress through the series. However, if there is a favorite implement that you have that I haven’t covered, hit us up on Twitter @MiseEnPodcast. Or send us an email at hello@bakecast.com. And with that, we’ve reached the end of our kitchen tools. And now let’s dive into this episode’s Teaspoon Tips.

[Three tings of a spoon against a mug]

I was recently asked about sourdough starters. There are many ways to get your own starter. The easiest by far though is to ask someone who already has one. Most people who have a starter are happy to share it!

Alternatively, you could buy a dehydrated starter online. Most of those you just add flour and water too. and it’s pretty straight forward. Or, you could even buy an active starter. King Arthur Flour will sell you one ounce of live starter that is not dehydrated.

However, you could also make your own. There are lots of ways to do it and plenty of recipes online. I’ve cultivated my starter using the method outlined in Tartine and it’s given my bread amazing flavors.

One thing to note though is that Sourdough starter is a living culture and must be fed regularly, otherwise, it will die.

That concludes this episode’s Teaspoon Tip, and that brings us to the end of the episode itself. Thank you for joining us and I look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks!

[Fade in music, but keep low as credits will be read over it.]

Mise en Podcast is written, edited, and produced by Neon. You can find them on twitter, @NeonGreenTiger. Script editing was by Wing McCallister. You can find him on twitter @DrWingMC. Art is drawn by MyselfSquared. Find more of their work on their facebook page, facebook.com/myselfsquared. Music is Carefree by Kevin MacLeod from incomptech.com and used under the Creative Commons Attribution License. For all other information, including episode transcripts, links, and show notes, please visit our website at bakecast.com. You can also find up on twitter @MiseEnPodcast, or write to us at hello@bakecast.com. Want to help support us? Check out bakecast.com/support. Please remember to leave a rating and review on iTunes. And lastly, I’m Lur, an eldritch abomination with pigtails!

[Music swells briefly before fading out]