FAQ: Baking Equipment

Host Zoe Francois introducing her quick breads and muffins as seen on Magnolia Workshop: Quick breads & Muffins with Zoe Francois.

For National Baking Month I asked on Instagram for your baking questions. When I got hundreds of responses, I decided to make this a series of posts on my site. So far we’ve discussed Pies + Pie Crust, Cakes + Decorating, Meringue, Bread Baking, vegan desserts and now Baking Equipment. If you have any questions I haven’t answered, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to get to every comment that I can!

Your Baking Equipment Questions

  • Favorite measuring cups and scale? I’ll start with the scale, because I want everyone to use one for baking! My favorite scale is the MyWeigh. My favorites are a sturdy metal set of dry measuring cups. I like a glass measuring cups that have both cups and ML for liquid measures. 
  • Could you give a list of essential baking tools and some nice extra tools to have?
  • How do you organize all of your tools/bakeware? I organize my tools by type, so cake equipment stays together, measuring cups and mise bowls are near each other. I also situate them near where I will be using them, so I am not walking all over the kitchen when I need something. My mixing bowls, whisks, spatulas, jars of flour and sugar all sit very close to my stand mixers, so I can just reach for them in the middle of a project. I admit I am a hoarder of kitchen equipment and so I need a lot of space, but the essentials can really fit in a small space. Here’s a tour of the before and after of my kitchen from a long time ago! And here is an Instagram kitchen tour.
Host Zoe Francois prepares her tube pan to make her pear cardamom cake, as seen on Zoe Bakes, season 1.
  • Do you prefer gas or electric ovens for baking? I prefer to bake in an electric oven. The heat tends to be more even and especially with bread, the outcome is often better. When baking a crusty loaf of bread you need to add steam to the oven and the way gas ovens are vented, they don’t trap the steam, so your bread won’t rise as well and it won’t have a shiny crust. When I do bake bread in a gas oven, I use a Dutch Oven so that the steam is trapped in the pot. 
  • When should we use convection vs conventional oven? I almost never use the convection setting, unless the recipe specifically calls for it. The wind can brown the outside and leave the inside under baked, so it is best to go with flat heat for baking. If your oven only has convection heat, be sure to adjust the temperature down by about 20-25°F to make up for the intensity of the fan.
  • Can I trust my countertop convection oven to bake yeasted breads? $0 to waste experimenting! Yes, my mom bakes her bread in one and it is terrific. She tends to make small loaves, so they fit beautifully. She also uses it for cakes, pizza and whatever else she is baking. It does take some experimenting, since it is convection and most baking recipes don’t call for that. So your bakes may be done sooner than the recipe calls for. Once you get to know the oven, you can adjust the baking times on a recipe. 
  • Do you have a favorite online shop for baking supplies, ingredients, etc.? I have curated a little shop of some of my favorite tools on Amazon. I also really trust the equipment sold at King Arthur Baking Company, Wilton and Williams Sonoma. There may also be local shops near you that sell good quality baking equipment that you want to support.
St. Patrick's Day cupcakes in tulip cupcake liners
  • Where do you get those white papers for your muffins? They are called tulip muffin papers and they are linked in the blueberry muffin blog post. You can find them here. or you can make your own, as I do in my blueberry muffin demo during my Magnolia Workshop.
  • If you could only buy one, which is more versatile: 8×8 or 9×9 pan? I think I use my 8×8 more often. 
  • Best way to use silicone canele molds? I have copper molds and tend to use those more frequently, just because I find they caramelize a bit better, but the silicone don’t require all of the fussy prep. You’ll find my Instagram video on caneles here.
  • Do you have a link for the embossed rolling pin? I got mine at JK Adams, but there is also a large selection here. in my Pie Q&A I talk about how to use this pin successfully to create an embossed pie crust.
Zoë François clay jar filled with rolling pins
  • Do you have a favorite rolling pin? I am ready to tackle crust and want the right tools. I use handled rolling pins and French style pins the most. If I am working with a soft dough, I like the French style pin, because I can feel the dough better under it and I can have a gentler pressure. If I am working with a chilled stiff dough I like a pin with handles so I can put some force into it without it hurting my bony hands. There is no right or wrong rolling pin, just the one that feels the most comfortable. I would just suggest you have one that is large enough to cover the width of the dough you are using, it’s just easier to get an even dough.
  • Is measuring with a scale better? It seems to be more popular overseas than here in US? Yes, it is better because it’s MUCH more accurate. Think of how differently we may all scoop flour into a measuring cup. Some people dip into a bag, some people level off, some people spoon it in. Those are all completely different weights and it is way harder to control the outcome that way. There are scales ranging from less than $10 to $80. My favorite scale is priced in the middle at about $45. A kitchen scale is a game changer if you’re trying to become a better baker. Plus, it often results in less dishes to wash!
  • What stand mixer do you recommend? I have three and I discuss them all here!
Big Blueberry Muffins | ZoeBakes | photo by Zoë François
Blueberry Muffins
  • Where do you get the copper molds for your blueberry muffins? They are mini souffle molds from Mauviel.
  • Favorite baking dishes/pans? Find all my essentials in my Amazon shop! This gift guide is also a good place to find out my recommended equipment.
  • How to successfully use an ice cream scoop for cookies – they always stick like mad! Start with a sturdy, reliable scoop, that won’t fall apart with a thick cookie dough. Having said that, some cookie dough will stick to just about anything, so spraying with baking spray will help release the cookies from the scoop. You can also wipe it with any cooking oil. For some cookies, like meringue, dipping into hot water between scoops, then tapping dry, also works.
A stack of cookbooks on a kitchen counter.

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45 thoughts to “FAQ: Baking Equipment”

  1. Hello Zoe,
    Thanks so much for your baking series. I love the explanations and equipment info. My question pertains to cinnamon. I know there are many kinds of cinnamon, what kind of cinnamon do you use for your cinnamon rolls? BTW, they are terrific! Any recommendation on what cinnamon to use when?
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Janet, thanks so much for your question. We’re delighted to hear you enjoy Zoë’s cinnamon rolls! In terms of cinnamon, Zoë has many different kinds (Ceylon, Indonesian (lighter), Saigon, Vietnamese (a little bit darker), Cassia cinnamon) but most people would not notice a difference in the type when it’s baked into a recipe. If you were to get several different kinds for a taste test, you may notice subtle differences. Here is a great article on cinnamon from Bon Appetit. I hope this helps!

    1. Hi Wendy! All of the recipes in Zoë’s books are based on Gold Medal Flour. She also uses King Arthur Flour sometimes (you’ll see it in some recipes on zoebakes.com), but it has a higher protein content than Gold Medal. She’s also a huge fan of locally milled flour from Baker’s Field Flour & Bread in her bread recipes. I hope this helps!

      1. Thanks so much, Stephani. I think that Canadian all purpose flour has a much higher protein content that even King Arthur so I will try to pick up some Gold Medal flour once we can get back to the U.S.

    1. Hi Bonnie! Typically with a scale you use grams, ounces or ml. Lots of recipes offer both the cups and grams/oz and if they don’t, you can calculate it yourself by using the nutrition label on your ingredients. I hope this helps!

  2. Regarding equipment, on the Pizza Farm episode you used a pizza peel with holes in it – why? I have one used at a pizza shop in Vegas but wondering the advantages and where to find them.

    1. Hi Diana! Zoë’s perforated pizza peel came with the pizza oven, which is why it has such a long handle. It allows the heat to release without making the bottom soggy. Zoë uses a non perforated one when she bakes pizza in the house.

    1. Hi Lois, Zoë’s ovens are from Bosch and they no longer make the model she has. She is actually in the market to replace them!

    2. Thank you for your reply to my question about what brand wall ovens Zoe has/had in her kitchen. I’m probably over-thinking it, but have been looking for a new wall oven and seem to want something that isn’t made anymore. Just a solid performing baking oven without all the electronic stuff. Did Zoe find a new brand of wall ovens? If so, could you share what she decided on? I also love to bake cakes, pies, breads, cookies.
      Thank you!

  3. Hello Zoe I see you and several chefs using your wooden salt box container that has a lid with it and I think has 3 compartments in it. PLEASE tell me where I can buy one. Thank you so much. Hope to hear from you soon. My sister and I love watching your show on Magnolia Network.

    1. Hi Sandy! Zoë’s salt box was a gift from Cooks of Crocus Hill, but they no longer have them and she is working on having some made. Stay tuned for when they will be available! Be sure to follow her on Instagram or Facebook or sign up for her newsletter to know when they’re available. So glad to hear you’re loving her show!

    1. Hi Joan! Zoë uses lots of different kinds of Valrhona chocolate, it will depend on the recipe. Did you have a specific recipe in mind?

  4. Hi Zoe

    I have a pie crust question that I don’t think anyone asked.
    When I make an apple pie the delicious bubbly inside starts to drip over the edge.
    It doesn’t ruin the pie it just makes a big mess!
    Any tips would be appreciated.
    A very old recipe I use suggests to cook the apples down with a bit of water which I do.
    I only use Cortland apples.
    I also add a bit of cornstarch in the sugar cinnamon mix which should help thicken it I thought but…

    1. Hi Diane, Zoë’s pies also spill over–it’s the nature of the filling. You could try a few things to avoid mess: use a deeper pie plate, try a little less filling, or you could also try baking with a sheet pan beneath it to catch any spills. I hope this helps for next time!

  5. I noticed your bottle of vanilla extract and the large amount of pods…how long will the pods last before you have to discard? I assume you continue to replenish the bottle with vodka? Also, I love those bowl covers, where I can find them?

  6. Hi there! I’m in love with the beaker-style measuring cups that she uses, but I can’t find them online anywhere. Do you mind sharing where they are from? Thank you! We are thoroughly enjoying the show.

    1. Hi Katie! So glad to hear you’re enjoying the show. Those measuring cups are from Ikea and it looks like they still sell them. Enjoy!

  7. Hi Zoe! I’ve started baking the artisan bread after buying your book, but my question is: what’s the best way to store it? Have a container recommendation?

    1. Hi Kerry! The bread and its crust are best the day the bread is made, but if you have some left over, just be sure to avoid plastic. A cloth or paper bag are good options. Enjoy!

  8. Zoe’s essential equipment list shows 3 bread knives. One is Wusthof, two are Shun. Can you summarize the differences and preference? Thank you.

    1. Those are all bread knives that Zoë owns and she likes them all. She doesn’t have a particular favorite over another!

  9. I was curious if Zoe and her team might have an oven thermometer recommendation. I’m taking a whack at baking bread after reading her and Jeff’s book and I know my oven is inconsistent. However, (as with most things lolz) thermometer options are overwhelming.

    1. Hi Erin! Absolutely. Zoë has one in her Amazon shop, but you can also get them at a local hardware store, Target or Walmart. Zoë has even tested her oven with 2 thermometers to make sure she gets an accurate read. I hope this helps!

  10. Hi! I’m curious about the food processor Zoe uses. I’m I. The market and I see hers has a seeming large capacity. What brand/model is her food processor?

    Thank you

  11. I would love to know where you get your aprons from and also the metal scoopers that I always see you getting your flour out with.

  12. Love Zoe!! Just found her and I am learning so very, very much. I was wondering where I might find the gorgeous, huge container that she stores her rolling pins in? If you have any ideas that would be awesome because I’d like to store mine the same brilliant way. But I can’t seem to find a container large/sturdy enough. Thank you so much for all that you do and your wonderful generosity. Take good care!! Valerie

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