Austin pastry chef Jessica Maher is a wizard with butter and flour. She’s even been known to get standing ovations at the pie workshops she holds at Métier Cook’s Supply, the gorgeous new kitchen shop she runs with her husband, Lenoir chef Todd Duplechan. The couple is obsessed with quality cooking gear: At Métier, they stock all manner of new and vintage cookware, nearly century-old restored cast-iron pans, bar tools, cookbooks and an astonishing selection of Japanese and American knives. Of course, given Maher's baking background (she was pastry chef at Lenoir until the opening of Métier last summer), she's particularly fanatical about the pastry tools they sell. Here, she shares the five must-have kitchen gadgets that will take every baker's game to the next level.
They come in all shapes and sizes. I like them because they take up very little room and are very versatile. They can be used to make anything from baked goods to puddings and mousses. They can go in the oven or the freezer and can be cleaned easily.
2. Small offset spatula
These get into small spaces when you're spreading batters in pans, but they're also really good for spreading purees on plates, spreading sauces on sandwiches, flipping small things (like seared scallops) in pans and transferring rolled-out and cut cookie dough or crackers to sheet trays. I use this every single day.
3. Set of 12 round cutters
All of these sizes get used for something, like cutting out individual rounds of pie dough for hand pies, cutting out pâte de fruit for petit fours, cutting out linzer cookie tops and bottoms, ravioli, etc. I also use them to cut a hole in bread for toad-in-the-hole breakfast.
4. Perforated pie pan
I'm not a big fan of blind-baking the dough; I like to use a perforated pie pan to circulate the heat to the bottom of the dough. Perforated pans do a good job of getting the bottom of the crust golden brown. I have a bunch of old perforated pie pans from my family that I love to use and that have yet to fail me.
5. Bench scraper
I thought I lost my bench scraper recently and almost panicked! This is a versatile tool because you use it to cut dough, clean off tabletops and table chocolate while tempering it. I have to have mine when making any kind of dough for portioning and clean-up purposes, because it's the most efficient. It also works well for transferring cut vegetables to a pan.