I’m going minimal here because I wish to underscore how powerful this simple gear array is when used in combination with an oven. An oven stone, a few sheet pans (“half sheets” technically), cooling racks and some parchment paper will deliver a truly stunning amount of delicious bakery: breads, rolls, sponge cakes, galettes, cookies, bars, free-form pies and tarts…I could go on and on.
Find the thickest oven stone you can (you can even use clay tiles or bricks if your oven can handle it and you’re sure they’re unglazed), lay it on the lowest shelf of your oven and leave it there all the time. Bake directly on it or simply use it to even out cold or hot spots. Similarly, buy good, thick sheet pans. They bake more evenly and are resistant (though not impervious) to warping.
Where parchment paper is concerned, the roll stuff will do in a pinch. Far better are pre-cut flat sheets. Get them at the King Arthur Flour website and let them on top of your refrigerator where you can always get at them. You can bake on them, line pans with them, make pastry bags out of them. They have a thousand uses. How do I feel about silpats? Good, not great. It’s true that nothing sticks to them, but you can say the same thing about coated parchment and it’s much more versatile. Just a preference. Don’t jump all over me, silpat lovers, I know you’re out there.