Baking Club

11 of the Strangest Tools in Our Kitchens

March  8, 2018

Recently in our Baking Club, we were discussing how Dorie Greenspan keeps a hammer and a screwdriver in her kitchen, and so we all started sharing the unusual items that are surprisingly helpful in our own kitchens.

Bet you’ll find other uses for these than just opening coconuts. Photo by James Ransom

1. Hammer

Who are we to argue with Dorie? Carol Chambers Lovelett uses her hammer to crush nuts and to pound frozen chocolate bars to create chocolate shards. Jan Smith moved her claw hammer into the kitchen the first time she made caramels and ended up with a caramel brick, saying: “I’m sure my neighbors wondered about all the banging! Once I broke it up into smaller shards, it was great to munch on or put on ice cream.” And it doesn’t have to be a claw hammer, any type will do—Lyn Cross is partial to a mallet.

2. Tape Measure

This was a very popular one in the Club (and, admittedly, probably the least strange of the bunch). Mike Margolis uses a tape measure for both getting a rectangle just right for cinnamon rolls and for ensuring uniform circles when making a giant cinnamon star. Janice Lawandi agrees, saying: “Yes!!! I also use it to verify dough thickness as I roll. I like that I can open it up to a certain size and press the lock button to hold it in place for me. It’s just so handy!!!”

Shear enough, these do double-duty! Photo by Bobbi Lin

3. Dental Floss

Joelle Smalt uses dental floss for cutting perfect cinnamon rolls, explaining: “Once you try it, you will never go back to using a knife! My mom did this when I was growing up. I thought it was magic. It was my favorite step in the cinnamon roll making process!” Just remember to pick up the unflavored floss, not the minty kind!

4. Garden Pruning Shears

Sheryl Hausman-McElwee can’t live without pruning shears in the kitchen. Why? Two- and three-tier cakes require support from wooden dowels, so she uses the shears to clip the dowels perfectly. (It goes without saying that she doesn’t use the same set in the garden, right? Right.)

5. Step Stool

Yes, a step stool is handy in the kitchen for reaching high shelves, but Patty Pomper Leeman also puts hers to use as extra “counter” space in her small kitchen.

Step stool? Or something more? Photo by James Ransom

6. Hand Towels

Thicker than regular dish towels, Ann Hoang Seidel prefers them for drying dishes, but she also drapes them over her KitchenAid mixer so any flour or powdered sugar dust stays contained.

7. Pliers

Lyn Cross uses them for removing stubborn bottle caps, while Carl Oughton puts them to use grabbing the tendon in chicken fillets.

Useful tools, close at hand. Photo by James Ransom

8. Weights

Patty Pomper Leeman keeps a couple of 1-pound weights (the round plate kind) on hand in the kitchen, because they fit perfectly in her strainer for cheesemaking.

9. Paintbrush

Lyn Cross uses a paintbrush for dusting off her mixer and other small crevices after baking.

Not just for drying hair. Photo by James Ransom

10. Angler Forceps

Nikki Koch Garmon uses them to remove fish pinbones—Lauren Langston keeps a retired pair of tweezers in the kitchen for the same reason.

11. Hair Dryer

Lyn Cross uses a hair dryer to heat stickers and labels so she can remove them neatly without leaving any residue. It also comes in handy for melting chocolate.

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What unusual tools do you like to keep in your kitchen? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Frances Quinn
    Frances Quinn
  • amysarah
  • HalfPint
  • Smaug
  • NaoHorton
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Frances Q. March 8, 2018
I keep a ruler, measuring tape, scissors, and pliers in my kitchen
amysarah March 8, 2018
I'm not getting the exotic part either, but in addition, lots of studio items frequently travel into my kitchen, e.g., Exacto or Olfa blades for slitting bread dough before baking or cutting shapes in pastry dough; easel clips to close bags of pasta, chips, etc; paint brushes; tape measures and various rulers; stone and tile samples for under hot pots...
HalfPint March 8, 2018
I agree with Smaug. This list is not exactly exotic. I have pretty much everything on this list (though the hairdryer stays in the bathroom, because I still need it to dry my hair) and I have for years. I would also add: tweezers, wooden dowels, scrapers, funnels, cedar planks, unglazed tile and paint brushes. All easily found and inexpensive at your local hardware store.
Smaug March 8, 2018
I'm mostly surprised that any of this is considered unusual- well, I don't keep a hair dryer there but I wouldn't hesitate to go get one, and have. I also consider a fan vital (warming the cold, cooling the warm, drying the damp), I have a hacksaw for frozen meat, some quickgrip clamps, etc. Probably the most unusual thing there is a pear corer.
ktr March 8, 2018
I never thought of using a quickgrip clamp in the kitchen. I have one in my laundry room for holding my yard swift. I'm thinking it would work great for holding my spirilizer down (it is supposed to suction to the counter but it wanders all over, especially when my kids are helping). Thanks for the idea!
NaoHorton March 8, 2018
My mother-in-law uses dental floss to truss the turkey legs at Thanksgiving and my mother uses floss to cut hard-boiled eggs in half for deviled eggs. She zig-zags the floss through part of the egg to get a nice decorative edge on the whites.