You only need to scroll past the millionth banana bread or Dalgona coffee on Instagram to appreciate that self-isolation has changed our culinary habits a lot over the last few weeks. Suddenly, people who’d never so much as cook an omelette have embraced a new-found passion for sourdough starters and wild garlic pesto. Fuelled partly by lockdown necessity, partly by boredom, and partly by wholesome one-upmanship, there’s never been so much appetite for home cooking.
So how do you make sure your latest loaf is up to scratch and that you emerge from lockdown ready to wow with your new found dinner party skills? We asked award-winning British chef Tom Hunt, author of Eating For Pleasure, People and Planet, for the six kitchen gadgets he couldn’t do without.
I love making my own bread. A proving basket allows you to make a nice round loaf, like the best bakeries, with an open crumb and delicious texture. So many of us are making sourdough from home at the moment, and this really helps it look professional with the spiral lines on top. I, along with a lot of chefs, have started doing sourdough tutorials on IGTV if you need tips.
Borough Kitchen bread proving basket
Pestle and mortar
Pah! Who needs a food processor or high powered blender? Only joking, I have both. However, a pestle and mortar is a brilliant low-fi alternative for crushing spices and making salsa and aioli. A good old fashioned pestle and mortar will always be on my list of favourites.
Milton Brooks ceramic pestle and mortar
A bench knife is a rectangular dough scraper that makes bread making a whole lot easier and stops dough sticking to surfaces as you’re kneading it. It’s especially helpful when you want to start working with wetter, stickier doughs and experimenting a bit. They’re also very useful for portioning things like pizza dough into equal sizes.
Ooni bench knife/dough scraper
I’ve rediscovered the pressure cooker in recent years and now it is an essential piece of kit in my kitchen, cutting cooking times by up to a two thirds. A pressure cooker allows you to cook dinner in minutes and is really helpful for cooking whole grains and pulses yourself in less than hour. If you’ve never used one before, my book Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet gives detailed info on how to soak, sprout and cook your own beans and grains from scratch.
Instant Pot pressure cooker
It sounds niche, but the flour mill is my number one piece of kit and favourite kitchen gadget ever! Milling your own flour only takes a couple of minutes and opens up a whole host of interesting whole grain flours you can use for pancakes, cakes and bread. If you’re freshly grinding your flour it has more nutrients and tastes so much better too. You can also use it to grind things like beans, lentils, rice, rye, and it doubles up as a coffee grinder too.
Komo Bio Fidibus Classic flour mill
Last but not least, I wouldn’t be without my Japanese-style Nakiri knife. It’s has a mini cleaver shape with squared off tips, and is just great for speed chopping and dicing vegetables. I’ve just collaborated with Blenheim Forge to make a Nakiri knife with a specially fabricated hemp-wood handle, chosen for its positive impact on the environment. The knife is a razor sharp has a square blade designed for ultimate multi-tasking.
Blenheim Forge Nakiri knife