Joe’s Mailbox XVII

One of the things I hear most from readers is: “I’d love to be baking with you Joe, but they just don’t let inmates into the kitchen without a work pass.” The other thing I hear most often goes something like this: “Joe, I’d love to bake more, but I have a hard time getting motivated. Is there anything you can suggest to make the process of baking easier?”

To that I have just three words: metal mixing bowls. There’s nothing that put me off home baking more consistently than my gorgeous set of crockery mixing bowls. I bought them in the first place because, well, they’re gorgeous. They had thick blue stripes, an uneven, rustic-looking glaze all over them, and were made by the Amish (what better baking juju can you have than the Pennsylvannia Dutch, I ask you? Just looking at the things filled my mouth with the taste of warm gooseberry cobbler). Yet the mere thought of having to shift that massive set of rustic charm — just those four bowls weighed in at almost 14 pounds — was enough to send me down to the Dairy Mart for a twin pack of Little Debbies.

All that changed the day I took my kitchen indistrial with a set of thin steel mixing bowls. Incredibly light and easy to handle, those plain vanilla bowls changed my home baking life. They’re tough, completely unbreakable. They’re wide and shallow vs. tall and deep, which makes the act of mixing itself much, much easier. They are also far cheaper than their charming country counterparts, especially used — just a couple bucks each at your friendly local kitchen supply house. One of the things I really like is that I can customize my own set. Of the ten I have stacked on the bottom shelf of my kitchen island are four in my favorite 10-inch diameter, so I never run out. Granted, some of the larger sizes get pretty wide, but ultimately they’re a space saver since they stack one-inside-the-other like dixie cups.

Trust me, there’s a reason indstrial kitchens prefer plain burnished steel over custom-distressed crockery with a faux crackle-coat. Try’em, you’ll see.

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