I’m sure that some of you are struggling to figure out what to get that special baker on your shopping list. I’ve already covered the five stupidest baking gadgets (pie funnels, how you annoy me), but what about useful gifts for the avid baker? Well never fear. Below are my suggestions for simple, practical gifts that any serious baker will use all the time. There’s some stocking stuffers, moderate gifts and, of course, a blow-out item (I bet you can guess what it is).
When you start piping a lot of cupcakes, you can go through a bunch of disposable piping bags without a second thought. Which is why I love reusable piping bags – just so long as you wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water, you can use them again and again. They’re much less wasteful and more cost effective than reusable bags – and they’re easier to hold too. This Wilton Featherweight 18 inch bag is a good size for most everyday piping needs.
I kind of love my box of tiny little piping tips, but I actually use my set of basic larger tips much more. This six piece set from Ateco, with a couple large star, round, basket weave and leaf tips, are extremely versatile. You can use them to pipe frosting, mousse, or pate a choux; and they’re the right size for making rosettes on cupcakes, beads on cakes, or tiny cream puffs.
Having used a real tapered rolling pin at pastry class, I’ve fallen in love with their simple and functional design. Unlike the pins that roll around a dowel, you’re always in control of the pin – and you have much more contact with the dough. This beechwood model from Bonjour looks particularly tempting.
Home ovens cycle through heat in waves, which can cause your baked goods to bake unevenly. But oven stones help regulate the heat in your oven – creating more evenly baked breads and cookies. Oven stones also help produce crisp crusts on your pizzas, bagels, and breads that a regular oven just can’t achieve alone. Check out this rectangular model from Old Oven Stone, which looks study and practical.
Parchment paper was not meant to be rolled up like aluminum foil, and yet this is the way it’s sold at grocery stores. It curls at the edges, you can’t ever get it flat – it’s a pain. Parchment is meant to be flat. In professional bakeshops you get it flat, in cardboard boxes. And then it becomes the most amazing thing ever. It lines pans, it makes it incredibly easy to transfer baked goods to cooling racks, you can cut it to make cornets – it’s awesome. Just trust me on this one – your baker will love it. Burke supply has 1000 sheets for $58.50 – but it should last your baker the entire year.
Oh, come on. You knew this had to be in the gift guide. For partners or parents who really want to make a grand gesture to the special baker in your life, there is no better present. Kitchen Aid stand mixers allow you to mix batters, doughs, and icings more consistently and more quickly than you can do by hand. It gives you the freedom to make more complicated items – items that you have to mix quickly, like marshmallows or Italian buttercreams, or items that take ridiculous amounts of time and energy to mix by hand, like meringues or whipped cream. I’ve had my Kitchen Aid mixer for seven years now, and I use it at least two or three times a week – and I’ve never had a problem with it.