7 Essential Tools for Making Any Cake Like a Pro

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Just as important as knowing how to make a great cake is having the right tools for the job and knowing how to use them. No matter what kind of cake you plan to bake, these seven tools (many of which you probably already have) will set you up for sweet success.

1. Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer

The easiest way to mix up cake batter is with a stand mixer, but that’s not the only way. A hand mixer proves an easy substitute for mixing up cake batter with excellent results.

2. Rubber or Silicon Spatula

In most cake recipes, you’re likely to come across instructions to “scrape down the side of the bowl, as necessary.” Rubber or silicon spatulas are the best tools to get this job done, pushing down the ingredients that have splattered to the high sides of the bowl. These spatulas are also helpful in folding ingredients together and scraping out batter into the cake pan.

3. Cake Pans

This can mean round cake pans (eight- or nine-inch pans are a standard size), a Bundt pan, tube pan, or loaf pan, among other choices. The pan you use all depends on the type of cake you plan to bake, and it’s important to stick with the pan listed in the recipe. Each type of cake pan has a specific purpose and usage, and not all of them can be used interchangeably.

4. Cake Tester or Toothpicks

Judging a cake’s doneness isn’t all about visual cues. Many of these indicators, like the level of browning and the way the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, will vary depending on the type of cake you bake. But there’s one cue that remains consistent across all varieties: using a cake tester or toothpick to check the crumb. These two simple tools, which can be used interchangeably, help you easily check if your cake is done.

5. Paring Knife

When it comes to removing the cake from its pan, the best-case scenario is that you can turn the cake upside-down and the cake easily slides out. It often requires a little more assistance, however. A paring knife, or other thin, sharp knife is a good way to work the cake out of the pan.

6. Wire Cooling Racks

This is an essential tool for cooling cake, and it may prove handy to have a few if you plan to bake a layer cake. When cooling both in and out of the pan, these open racks allow for steady air flow.

7. Metal Spatula

A metal spatula, particularly an offset spatula, is such a handy tool when it comes to making cakes. While a butter knife can also get the job done, the longer length and extra width of an offset spatula allow it to spread frosting smoothly and evenly over a cake. The blunt edges also make it helpful in removing delicate cakes, like chiffon and angel food cakes, from pans.