Advice for baking and icing equipment purchase
I can cook quite confidently but am not a confident baker. I like commercial type of equipment for its durability but also look at cost. I would like to get some good cake pans, sheet pans and cupcake pans. I am sure to use liners. I also want to learn how to ice and decorate so I would like to purchase some tips (set or individual of most common) as well as some icing bags - I understand most people use disposable.
I usually look to CI or ATK for recommendations but would like recs from those who actually use them.
I noticed today on Martha Bakes that her bags were labeled (couldn't see the name).
I have a mix of equipment and most is unlabeled. What I suggest it that you get pans that are heavier weight so they don't warp or bend. You can check a restaurant supply place for a 1/2 sheet pan that I use for bar cookies. I don't know if you have Home Goods nearby but I have seen some of the heavy weight baking pans there. For sizes get a 9"x13", 9" or 8" square and 9" round.
For tips look for Ateco. They are what I used in the restaurant business. You might be able to get a starter set with a plain round and several decorative tips- one that I like is serrated ( /\/\/\ ). I am old fashioned and have only used cloth bags.
You will also need frosting spatulas. I would get one long and fairly narrow (1" I think) and a short one as well.
If you really get into it then you might want to get a turntable for frosting cakes.
Several years ago I took a class at the local JCPenney's store - they sold the supplies in the housewares dept. The class and equipment were by "Wilton". Same supplies and equipment are sold at Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby and Michael's. The pans are a bit heavier than you can get at the grocery store and seem to have held up very well.
For cake pans, I'd recommend the Parrish Magic Line in either an 8 or 9 inch round (the most common cake size). Parrish Magic line also has square pans that are truly square.
I'm not a huge fan of Wilton products overall, but they do have a nice cake pan line. I think it's called Decorator Preferred or something similar. They also have nice muffin tins that have straighter sides than most and that pan is in whatever their low cost line is.
For good quality, reasonably priced tips, I like Ateco. PME tips are better still, but more costly and may not be worth the cost if you're a casual decorator.
I mostly use disposable bags.
Sheet pans I would get at a restaurant supply store if one is convenient to you, otherwise, Nordicware Naturals is reasonably good.
As someone mentioned, you can take Wilton classes to learn everything from basic decorating in buttercream to more advanced tired cakes and gumpaste design and decorations. Most Michael's, Joann Fabrics and Hobby Lobby offer all the classes. Craftsy.com also offers numerous classes, both free and paid, and you can log in and learn at your own pace. Another alternative is to buy the Wilton course books and or course kits and teach yourself. The kits will contain most of the basic supplies, such as tips and bags, to get you started. Youtube is wonderful for tutorials on just about everything.
Finally, a good source for information on all things cake is the decorating forum at Cake Central http://cakecentral.com/f/9/cake-decor...
Happy baking and decorating.
I prefer Nordic Ware pans. Heavy duty aluminum made in the USA. Ateco makes excellent tips and offset spatulas.