Use your loaf – Compact Black Breadmaker 23620 (uk.russellhobbs.com)
Freshly baked bread regularly tops the list of the nation’s favourite smell for good reason and while infusing your home with the scent of it sounds idyllic, in practice, baking by hand can make for a fiddly, messy venture. This is where this machine comes into its own. Simplicity is the order of the day here with the option of making three different sizes of loaf using 12 different programmes – including one for a 55-minute speedy bake. Although the machine does all the heavy lifting when it comes to proving and kneading your dough, you’ll need good measuring scales to ensure a consistent loaf. On testing, gluten-free breads took a few attempts to master, while regular loaves had a nice crust. Best of all is the overnight function meaning your bread rises as you do.
Tipping the scales – Salter Electronic Scale with Dual Pour Mixing Bowl (www.amazon.co.uk)
Over or under-egging ingredients by even the teensiest margins can screw up the most promising of bakes, so give yours the best possible chance of success with some reliable electronic scales. These ones by Salter come with a medium-sized bowl – so those baking on a bigger scale will need to do a few rounds of measuring – and have a nifty add and weigh function that means you can accurately tot up different ingredients in the same basin. The spouts on either side of the bowl mean weighing and pouring both dry and wet ingredients is a doddle.
Mix-a-lot – KitchenAid K45 Classic Mixer with additional glass bowl (www.qvcuk.com)
Combining style and substance, this KitchenAid mixer was used in previous series of the Bake Off for good reason. With a tilt-back head, switching attachments is a cinch and the shields mean any mess from the batter stays in the bowl and doesn’t end up on your kitchen walls. The powerful whisks quickly do away with lumps and bumps in batter and you can even knead dough for breads and hardier bakes. Ready, set, baaake!
Chops away – Cuisinart CH4BCU Compact Mini Processor (www.lakeland.co.uk)
Chopping seeds, nuts and dried fruit to sprinkle into your cakes and breads is time-consuming, so make light work of your prep with this mini processor. Unlike many kitchen gadgets, the compact size means it’s easy to store and simple to use with just two functions: ‘chop’ and ‘grind’. But don’t let the size fool you – this powerful kitchen tool with super-sharp blades can whizz nuts in less than 10 seconds. You can also puree fruits for fillings or drizzles and chop onions and veggies for soup bases. A great all-rounder.
Whisk away – Kenwood kMix HM792 Hand Mixer (www.currys.co.uk)
Less bulky than a large-scale mixer, this hand-operated gizmo promises to blend your batters without bulking up your kitchen surfaces. There are five speeds, and the first is very slow, so if you’re looking to steady whisk, that’s your best bet. Mixing up silky batters and fluffy meringues with this whisk took longer than it would have in a stand mixer, but the results are consistently good. Bonus points for the functional design, meaning attachments can be fixed to the base.
Ink on – Efrank Frosting Deco Icing Pen, (www.amazon.co.uk)
Feel let down by your cake decorating skills? Why not try this nifty icing pen? You’ll need two AA batteries to power the pen which will help stabilise your hand while committing your icing message to cake. A choice of six nozzles and two speeds – fast or slow – mean you can adjust the flow of your icing to suit your needs. Filling the pen is straightforward enough and with a bit of practice, the smaller nozzle on the slowest setting had best results for doodling names and words on bakes.