As we approach the end of summer and head towards fall, I start to think about pie season. Of course, you can make a pie any time of year, but there is something about baking a sweet apple pie while the leaves outside are turning golden and red that just feels right. One tool that comes into play when you’re working with apples is the apple corer. Apple corers remove the core and seeds of an apple in one fell swoop and, when you have a dozen or so apples to cut up for a pie, the time they save adds up. I’ve had my apple corer longer than I can remember and have always had a few complaints about the design – namely that it wasn’t sharp enough (and hard to sharpen!) and very difficult to get the core out of the corer after the job was finished. Instead of struggling with it for another season, I started to look for alternatives and found a new Cuisipro Apple Corer. This corer has a streamlined design that makes coring even easier and more efficient.
The Cuisipro model has a handle that is easy to hold and gives the user a lot of stability. It has serrated teeth along the edge to grip the apple as it slices. Best of all, it has an easy-release lever to dispose of the core so there is no need to struggle to push it out (as I have to do with my old corer). This is definitely a big step up in the design and ease-of-use department, making the corer more functional and a lot more appealing. The corer can also be used for other fruits and vegetables that might need to be cored, but it excels with apples and just might inspire you to make apple pie (and plenty of other apple desserts) a little more often than you might otherwise.
This kitchen gadget is dedicated to anyone out there who is a fan of the movie Transformers, the older cartoon or anyone who just loves the idea of having a robot to help around the kitchen. Of course, The Robo Cup Measuring Cups are not automated robots that are going to do your bidding or transform on their own. They are a set of standard measuring cups that that stack up into a nearly 8-inch high robot when not in use. The set includes 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup and 1 cup measures and all of the pieces are made of food-safe plastic. On the back of the robot, each of the pieces has the size clearly imprinted on it, so you don’t need to remember that the head is 1/3 cup and the feet are 1/4 cup on your own. While the robot will take up a bit more space than a standard set of measuring cups, it doesn’t need to be kept in a drawer. This retro robot can sit out on the counter, ready for action any time you get the urge to bake.
Wood rolling pins are what most bakers swear by, but there are other rolling pin options out there that can perform just as well and offer advantages that the classic rolling pins don’t. Marble rolling pins, for instance, can stay cool while you’re working, making it easier to handle pie crust and other buttery doughs. Silicone rolling pins, like this Baker’s Silicone Rolling Pin, offer a nonstick surface that makes it even quicker and easier to roll out pastry and cookie dough.
The Baker’s Silicone Rolling Pin has a stainless steel core that is wrapped in a layer of nonstick silicone. This model caught my eye initially because of its design: it is a cylinder with slightly tapered ends. This style of rolling pin is more versatile than rolling pins with separate handles on the sides because you’re not as limited by the size of the pin (which, in this case, is quite generous to begin with). This one also has measurements marked right on the surface, measuring out 5-12-inch circles in increments of one inch. This feature is very helpful because it means that you never have to guess while you’re rolling out pie crusts and can get the measurements right every time. The other advantage to this silicone rolling pin is dishwasher safe, which is something you definitely can’t say about wooden rolling pins, and that is a nice feature that will keep cleanup as easy as rolling out your pie crust.
One of the reasons that I bake banana bread and other banana recipes so often is that bananas are one of my favorite fruits and I always have them in the house. I put them on cereal, in oatmeal, in fruit salads and baked goods. I never really though that bananas were a difficult fruit to work with, and that is probably why I never wondered whether there was an easier way to slice them up than simply using a knife. It turns out that there is. The Chefn Bananza Slicer is a hand-held tool that slices bananas with a simple squeeze of the hand, leaving you with five perfect slices for every squeeze. All you do is peel your banana and slide your fruit into the rings of the slicer. You’ve never cut a banana faster – and it is very safe for kids (and occasionally careless adults!) to use on their own. It’s fun to use and, while it might not change your life, it just might change the way you eat bananas.
Filled cupcakes seem like a challenging thing to make at home at first glance. With a regular cupcake, it’s easy to see how to put some frosting on top of the cake, but figuring out how to get the filling inside is not quite as obvious. Fortunately, it is easier than it looks to fill cupcakes and there is absolutely no reason not to make them at home. I use a paring knife to cut a small hole in the top of the cupcakes and create a big cavity to fill with cream. I even have done a step by step tutorial on how to make filled cupcakes to guide you through the process, and you can see a video of the process on my vampire cupcake post from Halloween.
Now, however, you can buy a little gadget that makes making filled cupcakes even easier. The Cupcake Corer is a tool that lets you remove the “core” of a cupcake with the push of a button – literally. The corer has a slightly sharp plastic edge that slides down into the cake, and when you pull the corer out, it takes the cake with it. It is more reliable than poking a pastry bag into the side of a cupcake and trying to squirt some filling inside (this method doesn’t leave you with much filling) and it is practically foolproof, which is great.
I still like the paring knife method, as it is very quick and you can easily control the size of the cavity to get as much filling into your cupcake as possible, and I’ll probably stick with it. That said, this little gadget is effective and makes a great little gift for a baker who hasn’t tried filling cupcakes before, or even for kids who like to bake if you don’t want them working with sharp knives while they make cupcakes.