I've put together a list of what I think are indispensable kitchen tools, trays, and tins which may not already be in your kitchen but are worth the investment. There's fundamental equipment which I haven't listed here, such as knives, and pots and pans, as I'd hope any budding cook or baker will already have these. I didn't want this list to call out specific brands either, so by all means if you would like to know where I got an item just ask!
Spatulas are extremely useful! Not only do they allow you to mix things properly as you can scrape down the sides of a bowl, they also prevent wastage so you'll never leave any mix or sauce behind. They also help you protect pots and pans from from scratches when stirring.
From gravies to sauces to custards, there are a number of things which require whisking on the hob. For those of us with who don't want to damage our pans I really recommend a silicone whisk!
Silicone Pastry Brush
I've found silicone pastry brushes to be a lot more practical than natural one. For a start you don't end up brushing loose hairs onto things, and secondly they're easier to wash-up and dry!
Vegetable Ribbon and Julienne Peelers
Who needs a spiralizer when you can spend a fraction of the money on peelers. I'd recommend getting ribbon and julienne peelers for all of your cooking needs. Most people also have a vegetable peeler. Not only can you peel vegetables with these, you can also make fine ribbons which is great if you're making a salad and are adding carrots. You only need the one peeler to do all of the prep work so there's less washing up!
Cups are essential for anyone cooking or baking using an American recipe. Don't try and convert a volume to imperial or metric units as not everything weighs the same. These are also very handy if you're looking to portion things quickly as well such as pasta or granola.
Ceramic Ginger/Garlic Grater
I recently purchased this ceramic grater and it is amazing, much better than using a micro-grater or garlic press in my opinion, and cheaper! When grating ginger I've also found that the teeth catch all of the fibres so it's very easy to remove them before washing up. Having a grater for garlic and ginger means you don't have to worry about tainting sweet bakes if you previously only had one fine/micro-grater for garlic/ginger and zesting.
Dough scrapers are very handy for bakers in a multitude of ways. I would recommend them for anyone who wants to give baking a bread a go. When you are kneading your dough it's really helps to have a scraper in your other hand so you can collect any stray dough. It also helps you gather the dough together if it is quite wet in during the initial knead. Scrapers also double up as cutters, so it's easy to quickly portion up a dough once it has proved, should you be making rolls for example. Finally they also useful for icing cakes. If you are coating a cake with buttercream and don't have a palette knife, use a dough scraper! Add icing to the side of the cake with a spoon and then drag it around the cake with the scraper. It will help you create a lovely smooth and even finish!
Wooden Rolling Pin
A straight edge rolling pin is to me the best you can use as you're applying pressure directly down on pastry when you're rolling it out. It allows you more control and helps you get a feel for thicknesses of pastry. It also doubles up as a tool to use for when you need to flatten meat (wrapped in clingfilm) or need to break up chocolate.
Electric scales are an absolute must have as far as I'm concerned. This is more from a baker's perspective as accuracy is essential, however they're also convenient. They're quick, efficient, and tell you what you need to know in imperial or metric. You can even measure liquids like water and milk on them as well!
Ovens do have temperature gauges and we expect them to operate at the temperature, however this isn't always the case. Depending on the age and make of your oven it may not be heating to the temperature you think it is. From my own experience my oven runs hotter than it says it is. With an oven thermometer you can be sure that you're baking at the temperature the recipe calls for.
I know the prospect of using a sugar thermometer can be daunting as it seems like you're going into complex territory, however, they're very useful when making any type of syrup so you can see what stage the sugar is at whether it's for a caramel or if you're making meringue! They're also very useful for jam making!
Silicone Oven Gloves
The final silicone item I really recommend is an oven glove. Don't risk burning your hand with a thin tea towel. Material oven gloves are all well and good although they do stain and damage over time. Silicone gloves are a lot easier to clean and help you grip tins and trays more easily. Always handy if you have a large heavy bake you need to get out of the oven!
Anodised Aluminium Cake Tins
If you are looking to buy one cake tin I would recommend an anodised aluminium cake tin. If you don't have a cake tin, this is the next one I recommend you buy. Anodised aluminium tins will ensure your cakes don't burn on the outside whilst the centre is still baking compared to dark metal cake tins. If this has been the bane of your bakes, this is why. They're also great tins because they have fixed bottoms. You can bake cakes in a water bath and never ever worry about water ruining your cake (like a Japanese Cotton Cheesecake).
Anodised Baking Sheet
Anodised baking sheets are on my recommendation list purely because of the one issue I've experienced with a lot of baking sheets in my time: warping. The number of baking sheets I've had which warp when in the oven mid-bake. These sheets are a little more expensive than your bog-standard baking sheets, although they are worth it though as they do their job!
Aluminium Baking Sheet
Following on from anodised baking sheets, if there is one baking sheet you need in your life, it is an aluminum one. Just as durable as anodised steel but a lighter metal. They are great for those bakes where you don't want a burnt bottom. From pastries to cookies, if you want to bake any of these I would say this is a sheet you must buy!
A wire rack is a must have for anyone using an oven. You can purchase heat-proof mats to rest trays and tins on, although certain bakes will require you to remove items from the tin in order to stop them from cooking and start cooling down. Resting items on plates or clean trays can be problematic, as you can build up steam under the item you're cooling which could then ruin the bake. On a rack you don't have to worry about this. They're also handy should you be glazing everything and need the excess glaze to drip away.
Okay, I told a porky, this is a brand shout out. The baking parchment from Lakeland is just the best I've used. Although it may seem rather expensive it's actually value for money given you get 45m of parchment in the box. A must have for baking yet also great for cooking things like baked fish parcels.