Of course, baking items are a place where cute can be king, and those who just want to purchase a “fun” gift can go all out on cookie cutters, pans in strange shapes, and the like. However, for a more practical gift, these are five items that are often found in recipes but may not be on the first-time baker’s shopping list.
- Food processor: This is a repeat from the cooking gift list, but with good reason. For someone who is willing to spend $50 (for a 3-cup Cuisinart) or even $100 (for seven), this is the ultimate gift. A food processor, as a gift for baking, is handy in chopping nuts, makes dough far easier, and is essential for fruit purees or nut butters.
- Spring-form pans: These are an absolute lifesaver for someone who frequently makes cakes, but also any sort of stacked dish like a multi-layer torte that needs to be chilled in something with sides. The sides are easy to remove and take away a lot of the hassle. Look for non-stick, and preferably in several sizes – sets of 4”, 8”, and 10” are easy to find, such as the one made by Baker’s Secret available for only $23 on Amazon. On the same theme, a Bundt or tube pan with a removable bottom or a 9-1/2” fluted tart tin with removable bottom tend to come up in recipes as well.
- Non-stick pastry cutter: Certainly there are other ways to cut butter into flour, such as the double-knife method, but nothing makes a better Christmas gift than something that takes the hassle out of baking. These are very inexpensive and easy to find, but not something every baker has lying around. Trudeau makes a good one with an easy-to-grip handle.
- Mini tart tins or ramekins: Or both! This is another inexpensive item, so mixing and matching different sizes can be fun (though there should be four to six of each size). Especially for the baker living alone, this is a handy way to keep from making an entire pie and then not being able to finish it before it goes a bit off. Molds that aren’t fluted can also be used for making little cakes, but the fluted ones are best for tarts. Ramekins are essential for crème brulée or crème caramel.
- Candy thermometer: If the recipient is someone who likes fancy baking adventures, inevitably there will be sauces or caramel involved. Though there are other ways to test heat, a good thermometer is indispensable. Look for one that reads in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.
- Kitchen scale: Finally, this is an item that will greatly improve measurement, especially in finicky dishes. Measuring by weight is the most accurate way to do it, and in some things it can make a world of difference. Look for a scale that reads in ounces and grams, so that the cook can alternate between British and American recipes without having to do any conversion.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!