I recently found myself wanting to make a procrastination cake during exams. Receiving a lifetime of kitchen gadgets as gifts has made me reluctant to spend my own money on kitchen necessities. I found a Swedish pewter cheese slicer in my cupboard, but no appropriate cake tin. So here is my attempt to streamline my kitchen kit, a list of what I think a semi-serious student cook needs to tackle any recipe.
A whisk, a wooden spoon and a rubber spatula.
These are the tools I can’t live without, because together they eliminate the need for any electric equipment. A whisk is essential for dressings, sauces, mixing batters and whipping cream. A wooden spoon deglazes non-stick pans, whose Teflon surfaces should not be scraped by a wire whisk. A rubber spatula or spoonula is my personal favourite tool in the kitchen; absolutely fundamental to any baker, it can scrape a bowl clean.
A chef’s knife, a paring knife and a sharpener. Generally, a large chopping knife and a smaller one for peeling and more fiddly work will get you through most tasks. Amateur cooks and chefs alike get protective and competitive over their knives (I have a friend who names hers). But what’ll make you a confident slicer and dicer is not the brand of a knife (my chef’s knife cost £8) but its sharpness—sharp knife, accident-free, efficient chef. So, get yourself a sharpener too.
A roasting tin and a baking tray. A roast chicken is my go-to dinner, and any kind of roast is a great way to feed a crowd (or yourself, plus leftovers). Get one with a rack so the oven’s heat can circulate evenly around your meat. A baking tray is useful for anything from cookies to spun sugar to roast fruit.
A 9-inch non-stick cake tin. If you’re able to exhibit self-control and buy only one, a 9-inch cake pan is the one to go for, as most recipes call for this size. Non-stick is vital, if you want to avoid the disappointing moment when you flip your cake onto a platter and the bottom and sides remain in the pan, mocking you.
A big bowl. A big bowl allows you to mix and toss thoroughly without things sloshing over the sides. A plastic one with a rubber ring around the base provides extra stability, or you can get metal one that has the benefit of being heatproof. I have a fire-engine red one, so I can make and serve my salads in the same bowl.
One pot and one pan. No need to get fancy with griddles, grill pans and toastie-makers. A decent-sized non-stick pot and pan will make you pancakes, pasta or a panini.
Main image sourced from Nomad Ink.