What’s on your wish list: Favorite tools from the King Arthur test kitchen.

zo-kitchen

Oh my goodness, it looks like the test kitchen has had a visit from Saint Nicholas. Or perhaps it was Père Noel. Maybe it was Black Peter, or even Kanakaloka. Whether you’re saying Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Mele Kalikimaka, or Milad Saeed wa Sanaa Mubarakah, this is the season of giving from the heart.

Here in the test kitchen we often get asked about our favorite baking tools, or items we just can’t live without. After a lively lunchtime discussion, we’ve gathered several suggestions for you and your holiday shopping list. Whether you’re giving or getting, we hope these special favorites of ours will help you with your list.

As you can see, this one’s from PJ. It’s her personal Thermapen. This thermometer is super fast and accurate. Being bright red, it’s easy to find in a busy kitchen too.

Right behind it is our sourdough crock. I’ve talked to many customers who have lost their starters to well-meaning spouses and partners who’ve cleaned the fridge and discarded “that stuff” in the jar. With its striped lid and King Arthur logo, this crock is a spiffy way to store your starter and keep it safe and sound.

Sure, the snow is falling outside but we never say no to ice cream. This Cuisinart ice cream maker got a unanimous vote.  It makes rich, creamy ice cream in 20 minutes and cleanup is a breeze.  Eggnog ice cream, anyone?

At last count, we had 8 of these big digit timers in the test kitchen and we still beg for more. The readout is large and clear even with flour on your glasses, and the beep is loud enough to hear from the hallway.

One of the best features of this timer is that it keeps ringing, and begins to count up as it rings, so that if you aren’t there right when it goes off, you can tell at a glance just how long it’s been since the beeping began.  And with only three buttons, it’s easy as pie to use.

The bench knife behind it is also a hot item in the kitchen. Scraper, cutter, smoother, dicer, forklift, and all-around indispensable third hand, it’s a must.

Our “corrugated” USA bread pans, cake pans, baking sheets and pie pans bake quickly and evenly. Used multiple times every day, they haven’t let us down yet.

What’s the scoop? This red melamine scoop is one of 3 in a set. You get red, white, and blue and you’ll find that you use them for everything.  A big helping of mac and  cheese served with the red scoop just floats my boat.

Got cookies to bake? We wouldn’t think of starting a batch of cookie dough without these scoops on hand. Scoop, drop, bake. It really is as easy as that.

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care. As were the mini spatulas, offset spatulas, and my favorite timer.

Susan loves the spatulas for getting the last little bits of chocolate from the bowl. Then you can use your offset spatula to smooth the chocolate to a fine finish. Spreading icing on cupcakes just isn’t the same without the offset spatula.

What more can we say about the timer on a rope? It’s super simple to set, and goes where you go. Wear it around your neck, loop it over your wrist, even tie it to your bikini so you can sunbathe while you await your goodies.

No, we haven’t started selling wreaths. This pie crust shield works beautifully to keep your tender crusts from scorching and is much more attractive than tin foil. Seeing how nice this one looks on our fireplace, we just may take to hanging ours on the wall!

Need a lift? We’ll make you grate-ful, because that’s how we roll.

A microplane grater is one of the best multitaskers we’ve ever found. Grate cheese, chocolate, zest, ginger, nutmeg, and just about anything else you can think of.  How about freshly grated lemon zest in your pie dough?

Roll it out effortlessly with our silicone rolling pin and use the giant spatula to move it seamlessly to your pie pan. It’s a good thing we have several of each, rolling pin scuffles could get painful!

Under the “OH honey, you shouldn’t have but I’m so glad you did” category is the Zojirushi CEC-20 bread machine.

Yes, we really do have 7 bread machines in the test kitchen, and yes there are days that they are nearly all in motion at the same time.  Fresh hot bread, pizza dough, risotto, meatloaf, cinnamon bun dough, even jam and cake can be made in the ZO, all while you do other things!

Gasp! We nearly forgot one! Thanks for the reminder, Beyonce. Clear plastic SHOWER CAPS! They can’t be beat as covers for rising dough.

Last but not least, festive and functional, these sturdy containers hold flour, sugar, chocolate, and just about anything you can think of in your pantry.

I bet they would even make terrific storage containers for holiday decorations, complete with color-coordinated lids.

Happy Holidays from the test kitchen team. Andrea Brown (not pictured), Sue Gray (l), Susan Reid (c), PJ Hamel (r), and me, MaryJane Robbins (rofl).

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Cindy leigh

    I’d add my KitchenAid stand mixer, can’t live without that!
    Happy Holidays ladies, and thanks for all the help and inspiration throughout the year!
    MJ, thanks to your posts and pics, I have made beautifully flooded and piped snowflake cookies. Royal icing is my new best friend. BUT, I can’t wait til January so i can see my kitchen counters again-for the last month, it’s been cookie-central!
    I’m so glad to be a part of your baking Cindy Leigh. I’d love to see pictures (of the cookies, not the countertop) ;)
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Mercedes

    Beautiful post… makes me want to have everything you are showing, as well as working in that test kitchen (sigh!)
    You gals are just great, just wished you opened a branch over in Europe to be able to buy all of your stuff!!! (Spain would be just perfect!).
    Happy Christmas to you too!

    http://honeybunny83.blogspot.com

    Reply
  3. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez FMP-FASE - Petrópolis, R.J.- BRAZIL

    OH MY GODDDDD!!!

    What we could desire more than all those brain skills that this AMAZING team of women contains???? Nothing more!!!!!!
    All those tools and kitchen sets are NOTHING without your baggage of knowledgement!!!

    All i could desire is HAPPY holidays and new year of those marvellous following posts!!!Extensive to all KAF´S staff

    That´s IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTT!!

    Our best regards from BRAZIL
    Ricardo Gonzalez
    Feliz Natal from all of us to you Ricardo!

    Reply
  4. Paul from Ohio

    What a wonderful photo of great ladies I’ve learned so much from over the past two years or so. Thank you all for your kind words back and forth with me, and all the baking you’ve inspired with your dynamite blogs. Surely your work alone must contribute a huge percentage toward sales at your most admired company.

    I have a number of the items pictured in this blog, and you can bet that a number of the others have been on my wish list for awhile – especially as I have expanded my baking horizons!

    Risotto in the Zo!? Now there’s a new one I hadn’t heard about before – maybe it’s time to trade in our 30+ year old Panasonic so I can make Cranberry sauce and Risotto along with the fabulous breads!

    Truffles test yesterday for the whole nine yards tomorrow! Thanks MJ. Great Decorating Press with which I squeezed out some Spritz cookies, and Susan, I got it with an eye toward Lemon Cream Cake with fancy frosting decoration! PJ? Ah PJ, what can I say – so many recipes that have inspired me, and so little time! I’ve gotten pretty handy at tomato sauce for pizza as well as better and better at my fav – Deep Dish Chicago style!

    Happy Holidays to you all, as well as the many others that I’ve come to depend upon there at KAF. Hugz to all – hope to meet you in person, perhaps this coming summer! (unless we think the timing is right for a watercolor workshop in Scotland!!!!)
    So sweet as always Paul. It’s been great getting to know you too. ~ MaryJane

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  5. Sherrie

    That Beyonce bit had me laughing out loud! haha! Great list :)
    We figured it was more attractive than the Gramma picture we found online. :) ~ MaryJane

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  6. Mary Beth

    I have been reading your blog for ages now and lusting after a lot of your kitchen tools (and making a few of the recipes, too). For Christmas, my roommate got me the Giant Spatula, the Bench Knife, and the Pure Vanilla Bean Paste. I cannot WAIT until finals are over and I can start baking with all of them!
    Ohhhh, can’t wait to hear all about it. Be sure to let us know! ~ MaryJane

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  7. StarGirlD

    It’s scary how many of these items I already own. I have the crock, the ice cream maker, the timer on the rope, the microplane, and the Zo. The thermometer is in a box with the KAF logo on it…tormenting me on the dining room table. It’s a Christmas gift from my husband, so I can’t open it yet. He could at least put it away, or wrap it up and stick it under the tree. I’m so tempted to just dive into the box and take it out! Haha!
    OH, that’s just torture! Hope Christmas comes early for you. ~ MaryJane

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  8. gaa

    I could not live without BIG RED — my KitchenAid Professional 6 Qt Stand Mixer (in Empire Red of course). Cookies, breads, pizza crust, etc., Big Red does it all. And thanks to you ladies and your blog posts, Big Red is always being brought out when I get home from work, intent on making a recipe that you have posted and set my mouth to watering. My favorites from this past year (its so hard to narrow it down!) — Stuffed Pizza (complete with your own homemade sausage!), Three Cheese Semolina Bread, Tomato Basil Garlic Pane Bianco. That one inspired me to create my own recipe for the National Festival of Breads which I will be submitting shortly. I have learned so much from you and I have gained such confidence because of your encouraging posts and demonstrations which make me believe that yes, I really can create a recipe. Maybe I’ll be lucky and win the thing that is tops on my wish list — traveling to Vermont and meeting all of you!! Happy Holidays from Pittsburgh.
    Thank you so much for sharing. How exciting about your recipe for the Festival! Good luck and hope you do get to come and visit someday soon. ~ MaryJane

    You might also want to enter our “Claim to Fame” contest – the prize is a trip to our school in Vermont! :-) -Allison

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  9. cbgfaith

    So glad for that great picture of you ladies! It’s good to have faces to associate with the wonderful blogs you post for us. Just want to thank you for all the work you do to get the beautiful pictures and great write-ups for every recipe to us. You make us feel like we are right there with you. As an almost 80 yr. old fan of yours, I have learned so much new info., have enjoyed great laughs, and received so much pleasure from following these blogs. I live with my son and daughter-in-law but I still bake a lot and enjoy trying new things. My 10 children, 31 grandchildren and 28 great-grands (plus all the spouses and still counting) are spread all across this country. I’ve passed along my favorite recipes to all them and I always refer King Arthur website to all those wives who ask me for advice. Keep doing what you are doing so well!
    A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
    (PJ, you always make me laugh. Love your blogging!)

    Thanks so much for connecting here – it’s wonderful to hear from bakers at all stages of life, from the college-student beginners to those with 31 grandchildren and 28 great-grands! Keep on keeping on, right? :) PJH

    Reply
  10. milkwithknives

    Hooray for the USA pans! I have the 10×15 sheet pan and would like to have it buried with me when I die. I’m going to upgrade everything to USA as I can afford it, and I have you lovely people to thank for this amazing discovery. It’s insane how much enjoyment I get from reading your blog posts, even if I never get the time to actually make many of the beautiful treats you produce. I ALWAYS learn something new, every time I check in, and I can’t even keep track of how many little baking mysteries and questions you have answered for me. Thanks again for all you do, and Merry Christmas to everyone.

    -Erin

    Merry Christmas to you too Erin! – kelsey@KAF

    Reply
  11. fran16250

    I just opened my Christmas gift to myself yesterday. I ordered some secret ingredients from KAF. I’ve been itching to try
    WHITE SUGAR PEARL DECOS 4 OZ 1
    1546 FIORI DI SICILIA NATURAL 1OZ 1
    1548 MADAGASCAR VANILLA 2 OZ 1
    3154 ESPRESSO POWDER 2 OZ 1
    1651 PETERS BURGUNDY CHOC CHUNKS 1# 1
    4583 RSPBRY JAMMY BITS 8OZ 1
    1496 VIETNAMESE CINNAMON 2 OZ

    The espresso powder and vanilla are refills, I’ve used them before. I can’t wait to use the other items. One day I’ll splurge and get me one of those thermometers, timers and brad loaf pans with the lid.
    I too have been baking up a storm. Almost everything on my baking list this year is a KAF recipe. I can always count on KAF recipes for consistent and excellent results.
    Thank you all for your hard work and dedication. Keep on “Baking Spirits Bright”! And have a Merry Christmas!!!

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  12. mbmitchell

    My Kitchen-aid mixer and food processor are on the top of my list – and tons of rubber spatulas, all different colors.
    I am just awaiting the snow to hit us, and not go around us so I can have a snow day and bake!

    Reply
  13. Caroline

    I’ll take one of each, please :) I can never have enough timers. I have one on my countertop, two on my oven, and have used my microwave and toaster in a pinch for two more. It does get difficult to figure out which one is beeping sometimes!
    Too true Caroline. Imagine 5 people in the kitchen at the same time, all using timers. “Is that you beeping?” is a common question! ~ MaryJane

    http://www.engineerandanoven.blogspot.com

    Reply
  14. sperreten1

    The dough whisk got left out. I use mine all the time. Yes, I use my Kitchen Aid, but often I ‘get there’ with less clean up by using the whisk. If you make Artisan bread you can’t live without this.

    Reply
  15. bettyfoley1

    I do have a good amount of tools and I love baking bread. My husband is now diabetic and one of our daughters has to eat gluten free. Any gluten free bread recipies and good whole wheat ones would be appreciated. I now use white whole wheat flour. I’m not sure if the regular whole wheat flour would raise his blood sugar less.

    I loved the pictures of all the tools! Makes me want more! All you ladies are terrific also! Merry Christmas to all.

    Hello – Have you been able to check-out our gluten free recipes on the King Arthur Flour website? You can view them here. Happy gluten free baking! – kelsey

    Reply
  16. banba1

    Great list — and the Beyonce pic had me laughing too. I’m glad you posted a photo of all of you as well — nice to see the King Arthur elves. And MJ, you ARE ROFL aren’t you! Merry Christmas to all.

    Reply
  17. ebenezer94

    I gave my mother a Thermapen for Christmas a few years back, but Santa has yet to bring me one. Wonder if my mother would notice if hers disappeared. Given how much she raves about its wonders, I’m thinking she would. ;)

    I’m loving my new bowl scraper that I got at the King Arthur cooking demo in Bellevue, WA this fall. It really works much better than a spatula for bread dough. It magically scrapes the dough off the bowl and doesn’t stick to the dough–even sticky sourdough that I’ve been working on learning lately. Thanks so much!

    Years ago, I received a gift certificate to a local kitchen store. I went in and couldn’t find anything that looked like something I’d actually want (hard to believe I couldn’t find something I wanted in a kitchen store, but the shop was more about decorative tea towels than useful tools). So, finally, I ended up picking up a cookie scoop. I didn’t think it would be that useful, but it was free, so what-the-hey. That cookie scoop has become a major tool in my kitchen. I couldn’t do without it now. I recommend one to everybody who ever bakes cookies.

    You might consider offering shower caps (“bread proofing covers”) on the site. I loved your idea of using one for bread, so I went searching for one at my local Target. In the shower cap section of the store they only had heavy, opaque ones with flowers and such. I final found a 4-pack of clear disposable ones in the hair dye section. They’ve been a great addition to my kitchen, so I’m very glad that I was persistent in wandering around the store searching for them. Glad I got a 4-pack as well, since I find myself using 2-3 at once.

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  18. mumpy

    Gave my wish list to my family, with several KAF items on it….I’ll bet they come thru, too, because I KNOW they want to keep the chief baker happy!
    And speaking of happy….I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season because you have certainly made a huge contribution to the happiness of many families, not just mine….I’ve been baking for over 50 years, but there’s so much still to learn. Thanks for all the good things – recipes, pictures, instuctions, encouragement….it’s nice to feel that I’m not the last baker in the world, because seeing the crowds clustered around the refrigerator dough section at the market makes me wonder sometimes!
    Hope all your wishes turn into thank you notes!

    Reply
  19. Aimee S

    So glad to “see” you! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I have enjoyed all of your posts this month (I only just found you and you are now on my daily blog list to read). Keep up the great work!!

    Reply
  20. cotufita

    Hi there. Very glad to see you all! I wish very Happy Holidays. I’m sure glad to find your site. I look for it everyday to see what new recipe is in the newsletter. Keep working this hard so we can keep learning. Best wishes.

    Reply
  21. calico

    MaryJane you crack me up! The Beyonce picture made me laugh! Oh, and how I love the way the fireplace is decorated. The pie shield wreath was an especially nice touch! Let’s see… The first item on my wish list was the NordicWare snowflake shortbread pan. That arrived on Monday. USA pans – I am crazy about them! I never thought that these pans could ever get any better. But now that they are exclusively King Arthur Flour, I would like to have more. Next on my wish list is the Thermapen. This will certainly be a purchase I will be making in the very near future. I am just plain tired of doing the thump. I would like to become more accurate with my baking. Perhaps that should be my New Year’s Resolution, after all, I recently entered into the world of weigh. I just purchased the Salter scale. I have been on the fence about this for some time. I kept putting it off and making excuses like “I don’t need one” or “I’ve done okay without it.” The idea of consistent results and having evenly-sized baked goods finally convinced me.

    It was so great to see a picture of everyone. All of you look like you’re having such a fun time. Other companies have a cold and distant feel – not with King Arthur! Thank you all for being so wonderful. You have really helped me to become a better baker. It is heartwarming how you take the time to genuinely connect with your readers. I appreciate everything that you do for us. Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays to all of you! Lois

    Merry Christmas to you too Lois! – Kelsey@KAF

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  22. janer01

    I got 5 USA pans for myself for Christmas this year. Told hubby I wasn’t going to wait to use them. I had tried the first ones you had (the 9″ cake pans) and loved them, but cakes aren’t as frequent as other things at our house. I just used the 9 by 13 pan this week for the first time, AMAZING performance (baklava – and it came clean in a jiffy)!

    The one thing on my list that isn’t on yours (but I think it should be)? I would LOVE to have a link on each ingredient’s page to the recipes in which it is used on your site. I have bought several ingredients from KAF that I have *never used* b/c I can’t remember what I bought them for! Yes, you now have the recipe box where I can save recipes and trip my memory but these ingredients predate that enhancement. Can you help me with my Christmas wish? Pretty please?! :)

    Jane, try typing the name of the ingredient into the search box at the top of the recipes section; you’ll get a whole list of recipes that use that ingredient… PJH

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  23. Beth

    Maybe you mentioned it, and I missed it – Parchment paper. Could not bake without it. Merry Xmas to you all.

    And to you, Beth- PJH

    Reply
  24. robinwaban

    I, too, have purchased “secret” ingredients, but when I bake those ingredients remain secret because I can’t remember what I bought and what for. When do I need dough relaxer and diastatic malt? I am baking my way through your favorite recipe list, especially breads, because I just got my new Zo (yay..) Keep up the good work. I LOVE this sight and your wonderful help!

    Robin, a couple of tablespoons of dough relaxer’s great for rolling out pizza dough and patting out flatbreads; it keeps dough from shrinking back and “fighting” as you roll. Add about 1/4 teaspoon diastatic malt to your yeast bread recipe; it helps the yeast grow. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  25. AJ

    Merry Christmas to everyone at KAF!
    Now if you only sold those ‘shower’ caps! Can you reccomend some sources?

    Most of our shower caps comes from our fellow KA employee-owners who travel on business. However, lately hotels haven’t been dispensing shower caps like they used to. So now we get them at the $1 store. I’d say check out your local $1 store… PJH

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  26. HMB

    How could you forget the dough whisk? I LOVE that and I’ve never seen it anywhere else. Awesome tool. Great for bread, a miracle for muffins and quickbreads (how it mixes so well with only a couple of strokes is magic) and it’s great for mashed potatoes too.

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  27. kittykat3308

    I just want to Thank You Ladies for everything I have learned from all of you. I have also been baking for over 50 years and I didn’t think there was anything else to learn. Boy was I ever wrong. I Have been Updated with everything from Apples and how to peel and slice them quicker with a handy dandy tool to my Zo Bread Machine. Almost every recipe that I have tried from this site has come out perfect and most of that is due to you girls, from your multiple times testing recipes to your step by step photos. I also want to thank your wonderful customer service people and everyone in the packing and shipping departments. Thank you also to everyone else at King Arthurs.

    Thank You and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every one. God’s Blessings

    Kathleen

    And a very merry Christmas to you too, Kathleen – thanks for connecting with us here, and for your kind words. PJH

    Reply
  28. Sue

    I’ve been trying to find a large bread machine cover for my Zo. Was hoping King Arthur would have them, but I have not seen any. Can anyone offer suggestions?

    Reply
  29. Wish List

    Speaking of which, King Arthur should add a wish list capability to their web site, so we can each create our own wish list. Then all year long, as a browse the web site and yearn for the many great products offered by KA, I can add them to my wish list for my family to use at Christmas. Win-win. They know what I want, I get what I want, and KA gets new customers!
    That is a win-win. I will pass this on to our Web Team. I know there was some talk about this feature. Someone in on our Community page asked for a Wish List also very recently. Maybe it was you! Elisabeth

    The wish list is on the “wish list” for the Web team, Elisabeth – it just needs to move up the list to the top! Thanks- PJH

    Reply
  30. chinchillalover

    Do you have a gift that would be suitable for a six year old brother,who won’t stop bugging me to let him help?

    Yeah, the best gift you could give him – let him “help.” Set aside some kitchen time just for him – and don’t expect to get done what you usually do; just do what he wants. Trust me, he’ll remember the time you spend with him long after he’d remember any gadget you’d give him… PJH

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  31. chinchillalover

    Whenever i let him help, if i turn around for even a second, i find him trying to stick his hands in a mixer that is ON.Or trying to stick his hands in the nut chopper.

    Reply

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