March 16, 2011

The Daily Beast website has a fun listing of The 50 Most Important Inventions (and Discoveries) in Food and Drink. What is even better is their list of Ten Food and Drink Inventions We Didn’t Need.

I agree with most of them but take issue with the garlic press. Contrary to what they say I use one all the time. Sorry, but I hate having my hands smell like garlic and using a press is so much faster.

I do agree muffin top baking pans should be on the useless list. The top half of a muffin tastes good because it is baked with the bottom part. You can’t bake it separately. The bottom part makes the top moist under the crunchy top. (My boss at my first cooking job had the top half of a bran muffin every morning. Guess who ate the bottom half- me.)

This got me to thinking about useless pastry related equipment and products. One is scone and muffin mixes. They make you think it is easier than making them from scratch but all they do is combine the dry ingredients for you. It’s about 50 cents worth of ingredients that they mark up exorbitantly. You still have to add the liquid and eggs.

Another is pie weights. Made of ceramic, metal or stone they are used to keep tart and pie crusts from falling or bubbling up at the bottom. They are expensive. Use raw rice or dried beans instead.

Marble rolling pins with ice water. The idea behind them is good. If you keep the pin really cold your dough won’t get soft. The only thing they forgot was the marble builds up condensation and can get wet on the outside.

The Edge Brownie Pan. This pan is shaped so all pieces have an edge. There are no middle pieces. For the gooeyest, fudgiest ones I go to straight for the one in the center of the pan where there is no crust. That’s the best brownie in the pan. The real feat would be to make a brownie pan with all centers.

Parchment paper in rolls. As someone who uses a lot of parchment paper, it’s annoying to uncurl every sheet so it will lie flat on a baking sheet. Unfortunately grocery stores only sell it in rolls. Share a box of flat parchment sheets available at restaurant supply stores with a couple of friends. Each sheet is the size of a full sheet pan but they can easily be cut in half. I store the cut sheets in one of my wide kitchen drawers.

What pastry things do you think are a waste of time or silly?


  1. OMG. Thank you for the parchment paper tip. I buy parchment paper by the roll and it has ALWAYS bothered me that I have to try to flatten it out. It never occurred to me to go and buy it at the restaurant supply place, where I get tons of other stuff.

    Now I feel totally stupid.

    And I’m with you on the edge brownie pan, but I have a friend who loves the edges and I swear she went crazy when she found out about that pan. I have yet to figure out how to make a pan of brownies all center, but inviting her over is the next best thing.

    I’ve gotten rid of most of my kitchen unitasker gadgets, but for me the one that people raved about that I never got was the Rabbit Corkscrew. It’s fine and all, but I can open a bottle of wine with a waiter corkscrew just as fast…and about a tenth as cheap.

    • Don’t feel stupid. how were you to know it was available in sheets.

  2. Very interesting post. My parents used to have a cookware store and I still love looking around in them whenever I find a new one. It isn’t a pastry gadget, but the weirdest gadget I’ve seen was a grape peeler. Who needs to peel grapes?!

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