Sometimes the ingredients and equipment used in the cookbook can be challenging to source outside of the country of origin. Here's where I get my prefered European goodies and recommended tools.
Swedish pearl sugar is a coarse form of sugar, resembling a small hailstone. It is commonly used on cinnamon or cardamom buns but you can use it as a finishing sugar on any pastry that needs a little extra crunch and sweetness.
Golden syrup (or light treacle) is a Bristish product that can be found in many (specialty) grocery stores in North America. It has a wonderfully smooth, slightly citrussy, caramel sweetness.
Sparkling sugar or coarse baker’s sugar (also known as ConAA sugar) is sugar with a very large crystal size. It adds a wonderful crunch, sparkle and texture when sprinkled onto baked goods.
Pastry flour is a finely milled, low protein wheat flour that makes the most tender doughs and crispest cookies. It is the closest thing I have found in the US to European plain white flour. Or try mixing equal parts AP & cake flour.
Butter brings an important flavor component to baked goods. So, use a brand of butter with a flavor you enjoy! I like Plugra unsalted butter. It has a high fat content similar to European butter.
Deep red morello cherries are my favorite sour cherries for baking. Sold in jars, they are not easy to find outside of Germany and Eastern Europe. Check the foreign food aisle of your supermarket.
Belgian chocolate is the best in the world! If you live near a Trader Joe's supermarket, I recommend buying their very affordable 'Pound Plus' bars. Or you can't go wrong with Guittard or Valrohna.
I like to grind my own cardamom but picking the tiny seeds out of the papery green pods is painstaking. Instead I purchase bags of whole cardamom seeds (i.e. without the pods) at my Indian grocer.
This is the oven thermometer I use to check the actual temperature of my oven while I'm baking. It is a simple linear thermometer that I can hang on one of my oven shelves, but a dial will work as well.
It's an unpopular opinion in the US, but in my opinion you must use a digital scale to measure your ingredients to be a successful baker. A scale ensures accuracy and consistency. Here's mine...
An instant read thermometer has a metal probe that is used measure the internal temperature of a food item. I prefer the type with a flexible cable because I can drape it over the side of my pan or bowl.
My favorite type of rolling pin is a long wood dowel without handles or moving parts. It gives me the most control, is easy to clean and works with silicone spacer bands to roll out your dough super-evenly.
The super sharp blades of a Microplane(style) zester produce fine, feathery tufts of citrus zest that mix easily into a batter or dough. And they allow you to get every last bit of the lemon peel.
Cookies scoops with a trigger or a squeeze handle are great for portioning out batter or for shaping cookie dough consistently. I use the larger #20 scoop and the small #50 scoop most often.
A dough scraper or bowl scraper is simple kitchen tool, but once you own one you can’t bake without it. I use a larger one as a spreader and bench scraper.
I love these rimmed half sheet pans by Nordic Ware for baking buns and cookies. They are durable and inexpensive. If you can fit one in your oven, get a 3/4 sized sheet pan for big batches of pastry also.
I recommend getting silicone baking mats that fit your sheet pans. They keep baked goods from sticking to the pan, are reusable and ensure an even bake. Silpat brand are the best on the market.
A 4 inch/10cm diameter tart is just the right size for one person. These pans with loose bases to make it easy to extract the finished tartlet. Buy two sets because you'll want at least 8 of these little pans.
Mini cheesecake pans (3" diameter) have straight sides which makes pastries baked in them (like rondos and mini cakes) look extra special. This is an upgrade from a jumbo muffin pan.
A mini loaf pan with 8 cavities that are 3¼x2½ inches/8x6cm is perfect for my mini cake recipes. Mini loaf pans come in various sizes so if your's is different you may get a different yield.