Playing Favorites

The Essential Tool Sam Seneviratne Uses for Any (Every) Bake

Cake, bread, brownies—you name it.

November 22, 2021
Photo by MJ Kroeger

Welcome to Playing Favorites, a new monthly series that puts our most beloved tools and gadgets front and center. Check in each month as our favorite cooks, authors, designers, and experts share what they reach for over and over again. From the dust-buster that misses nothing to the blender that tackles anything and the packing cubes that make travel a cinch, it’s the one time when playing favorites is a good thing.

It’s safe to say that Sam Seneviratne knows her way around baking equipment. After all, she’s a baker (of course), James Beard Award-nominated food writer, three-time cookbook author, food stylist, and Food52 Resident. And while she can probably bake to the same degree of success with jerry-rigged tools and creative thinking as with a whole fleet of gadgets, she’d definitely still prefer having a trusty set of spatulas on hand—especially the two from our FiveTwo Ultimate Baking Set.

Photo by Rocky Luten

Yes, a set of spatulas. It seems counterintuitive that Seneviratne’s favorite baking tool is actually two items, but they’re sized differently and thus, serve unique purposes in the kitchen. Both are perfect for frosting, but the little one is especially for [the sides] and the large one for the top—and for moving cakes around carefully, too. “[A spatula set] is one of those things that people don’t really think to [have] and once they do, they’ll never want to be without one again,” Seneviratne says.

But its uses don’t just stop at cake, Seneviratne uses them for all sorts of treats. “The little spatula is also great for pressing down on shortbread crusts or crumb crusts to get a really nice, even flat surface, and you can get into the corners of your pan, too. It’s also great for lifting things out like one bar out of a pan, or really delicate cookies without disrupting the other ones.”

While the two spatulas have been the set’s highlights for Seneviratne, the other tools have supporting roles, too. The silicone brush comes in handy for risen dough, like buns or babka. “If you want to put on an egg wash but don't want to knock out any air from the dough, the silicone brush is useful because the bristles are so soft and won’t make indentations in the risen dough,” she says. The bench scraper can be used to scrape flour off the counter before a wipe-down, as well as to frost the sides of a cake (okay, we’re back to cake now).

And speaking of cleaning, the silicone handles mean the tools can be thrown into the dishwasher without worry. A previous set that Seneviratne owned had wooden handles which needed to be hand washed, an inconvenience that this mother of one (who also happens to be her sous chef on Cook and a Half would like to avoid at all costs, thank you very much. “Anything you can throw in the dishwasher is always wonderful.” Words to live by, parent or not.

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Jada Wong

Written by: Jada Wong

Jada is the market editor at Food52 with a decade of experience writing and editing for online publications such as Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, and Insider.