Kitchn Love Letters

The One Baking Tool You Should Absolutely Own Two Of

published Nov 4, 2021
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Credit: Mackenzie Schieck

Hot take: The hardest step of any baking project comes after you remove the goodies from your oven. It’s the waiting. The time spent waiting for cookies to cool can seem impossibly long (hey, patience isn’t everyone’s strong suit), but it’s one of the most important parts of the whole process.

Allowing baked goods to cool properly is just as necessary as adding the proper amount of ingredients. In the case of puddings and custards, cooling time ensures that they set properly. Pies need to be cooled so they can be sliced cleanly, without “filling ooze.” And cookies, of course, need to firm up at least a little — otherwise they’ll fall apart on the way to your mouth.

I try not to keep too many “extra” cooking tools on hand, but when it comes to cooling my baked goods, I don’t skimp: I have multiple cooling racks in two different styles. And I recommend you do, too. In short: Because trying to balance a baking tray or pan on the “wrong” size or shape cooling rack can result in total disaster. 

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

Take it from me — the woman who once lost an entire batch of just-baked pumpkin cookies due to the incorrect pan/rack combination. I’d just pulled the sheet pan out of the oven, and set it on the only rack I had at the time (a round one). As I started to clean up, I accidentally knocked into the edge of the tray … which was hanging a good three inches off the rack. With nothing underneath the pan to stabilize it, it wobbled for a moment then upended, and half the cookies landed on the floor. The next day, I bought another set of racks, rectangular in shape.

You might not experience such dramatic kitchen kerfuffles, but having the right-shaped cooling rack is a real upgrade for anyone who bakes. I use my rectangular racks for sheet pans and muffin tins, and for cooling individual cookies. The circular racks are, of course, perfect for pies and cakes. I also like that the correct racks fit neatly under their corresponding pans and trays; it makes my kitchen feel less cluttered and messy after a marathon baking session.

Cooling racks aren’t expensive — even high-quality ones. And because they’re so slim and easy to store, you won’t even notice you’ve got an extra set hanging around. That is, of course, until you need them.

Are you picky about your cooling racks? Share with us in the comments.