Dec 14, 2011

A Gift Guide for Baking Fanatics

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I don’t know if I’m just getting older or wiser or WHAT, but I’m having a heck of a time thinking of what I might like for Christmas. Maybe you’re kind of feeling the same way? Well, regardless of whether you’ve lost touch with your materialistic side as well (for SHAME!), or if you’re trying to buy something useful and fabulous for the bakers in your life, here’s a few suggestions from the Piece of Cake kitchen to help inspire your shopping and make the baking experience a whole lot more fabulous.

Books. For me, it all starts with a great collection of cookbooks. More specifically, cookbooks by authors with whom I’m obsessed. Here’s a few titles on my shelf that have plenty of splatters and that I’ve given to friends on more than one occasion:

Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. Like Ina and Lynne Rosetto Kasper, I will pretty much do whatever Alice Medrich tells me to do. This book is full of the sort of earthy, complex flavors that get you thinking beyond plain old butter, sugar, flour and egg concoctions.

The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti. Also a book by a pastry goddess who I admire like crazy. This cookbook is great for beginners and advanced bakers alike, and stuffed with clear, foolproof recipes. This isn’t your standard cookbook full of photos, but man, oh man, there is some excellent information in here.

Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies, another Alice Medrich tome. When I have a wave of “I feel like baking COOKIES!” inspiration, this is the book I flip through first.

The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift. The Splendid Table radio show has been transporting me to my happy place for years. I gift this book to friends often, and I seriously think I’ve made every recipe in this thing. It’s mostly savory, but the desserts are the simple, deeply satisfying sort that can be whipped up on a Wednesday night. Love.

BakeWise by Shirley Corriher. As much of a baking textbook as it is a recipe collection, this is a wonderful book for answering all those crazy “hows” and “whys” of the chemistry of baking. It’s also a great handbook for the more advanced baker who might want to start developing his or her own recipes.

SugarBaby by Gesine Bullock Prado. I think the easiest way I can describe my feelings for this book is that it’s been on my nightstand for the past eight months. I read it as much as I bake and candy-make from it. So, so dreamy.

 

Baking Pans. I have sort of a baking pan buying problem. I have everything from restaurant supply store workhorse sheet pans to fancy-pants things I barely ever use, but here are a few great pans that I adore and consider totally giftworthy.

NordicWare Bundt pan. The original  and a classic. I love everything about this pan–the nonstick surface, the weight of it, the perfect level of darkness to the metal to ensure a golden crust on every cake. I’ve put mine in the dishwasher about 1,000 times and it’s still in perfect shape.

Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch baking pans. I’m partial to the 8×8 and 9×13 versions of this pan, but any of them are heavenly. Beautiful nonstick finish, perfectly weighted, and give the perfect amount of browning to everything. I also love that the 8×8 and 9×13 pans have totally straight sides for squared-off brownie and sheet cake corners.

Gobel Madeline Pan. Because even the most obsessive baker probably won’t buy herself one. Unless that baker is me. It’s a bit of a unitasker, but making madelines is so much dang fun. I love this traditional, French-made pan.

Sur La Table Muffin Tins. Quite simply, the best ones I’ve ever had.

Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven. Not really a baking pan per se, but I use my 5-quart version almost every day of my life. Wonderful for bread baking. Excellent for big batches of candy, too.

 

Fun Tools and Extras. It doesn’t take a whole heck of a lot of fancy equipment to bake successfully, but a few extra, nonessential tools can sure make you feel fancy.

Fleur de Lys Collection from Anthropologie. My cookie jar is from this collection and I adore it. I don’t actually own any of the other pieces, I just want them (hint, friends and family) and bet you will, too. Actually, the entire kitchen category of Anthropologie makes my heart beat all fast.

Martha Stewart Melamine Bowls. When my entire set of these is clean and nested, I feel at peace. Truth.

Williams-Sonoma All Purpose Towels. My favorite kitchen towels in all the land. Absorbent, durable, and just thick enough. They also bleach well, for when you get way too much chocolate on them.

Silpat Baking Mats. The wind beneath my wings.

Offset Spatulas. Endlessly useful in the baker’s kitchen. Great for frosting and smoothing and spreading batters, chocolate, candy, you name it.

Taylor Candy Thermometer. I have two. But I’m just that way.

Fun Cake Tester. In a world of uncertainty, this little gem makes me giddy every time I pull it out of the drawer. A perfect stocking stuffer or little unique gift add-on.

Ice cream scoops in different sizes. For making perfect, evenly sized cookies, cupcakes and muffins. I have, like, four sizes. Obsessed.

Vintage-y aprons. Can’t get enough of these. They make my life happy and worth living. I love the selection at Jessie Steele, and have some lovely ones from Anthropologie, too.

Pretty papers and edible gift-making accessories from Bake it Pretty. Prepare to lose yourself in the website for this dreamy online store.

Note: I’ve not been compensated to mention any of these items. This list is simply comprised of all of my own baking-obsessed opinions.

2 Comments

  • I second that recommendation for The Fearless Baker, I have that book and absolutely LOVE it! It will be hard to not spend the entire afternoon checking out all of these links!

  • LOVE that the Silpat made your list. I loved it so much, I started working for Demarle, the company that makes them, to sell their other silicone bakeware items (and stock my kitchen shelves with them too!)

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