As the holiday season fast approaches if you are like me you are probably starting have that “what am I going to get people!” panic moment. To help you find the perfect present for that special baker in your life I thought I would put together a holiday gift guide of some of my favorite baking gadgets, utensils and ingredients. You could buy a few of these items as stocking-stuffers, or buy a bunch of item and put together a nice gift basket, or even arrange them in a large mixing bowl.
So without further ado…
Here are a few of my favorite baking things:
1) Pyrex bowls
Most mixing bowls that people have are metal, which means that are not microwave safe. I love using these glass Pyrex mixing bowls for any ingredient that needs to be warmed. I measure out my butter into one and then pop it in the microwave to soften or melt. I mix up ganache in the bowl and the store it in the fridge. When I’m ready to use the ganache I can just once again warm it up in the microwave.
I also love these smaller lidded Pyrex storage bowls as well. I use these for storing small amounts of frosting, royal icing (since they are glass you don’t have to worry about greasy residue), ganache, and any other filling/frosting. Again because they are microwave safe you can store your frosting in the fridge and the warm it up to spreading consistency in a jiffy.
2) Adjust-a-cup measuring cups
These adjust-a-cup measuring cups are amazing! I have both the large and mini versions and use them for any ingredient that is “sticky”, like corn syrup, peanut butter, sour cream, etc. You can use it for other ingredients as well because it has fill lines for both dry and liquid. You set the size, fill with the ingredient and then push the bottom cylinder through to eject every last drop of your ingredient. The mini version comes in very handy when you need something like 2 Tablespoons of corn syrup.
3) Mesh Strainer
Sifting your dry ingredients is a very important step when baking most recipes. Rather than using a fancy sifter to sift flour I like to use a mesh strainer. This Oxo brand strainer is great because it has an ergonomic handle, plus since it’s a strainer it is multi-purpose.
4) Good Rubber Spatulas
If you are a baker you must have a good set of rubber spatulas. They are the best tool for mixing batters and scrapping every last bit out of the bowl. The problem is I’ve had a number of spatulas either break on me or give me a hand cramp because of how unconformable the handle is. These silicone spatulas are the best I’ve found so far. They have a solid, continuous silicone handle that is very sturdy and also have a very comfortable grip.
I have amassed quite a collection of scoops in my kitchen. Having different size scoops comes in super handy when making cupcakes or small bundt/loaf cakes. I use a 4 Tablespoon scoop for my cupcakes. It perfectly portions out your cake batter so you get perfect, and evenly, sized cupcakes every time. I also have the full set of Oxo scoops that come in three different sizes. I use them to make cookies, or when I need to put two different batters into one cupcake (like marble cake). These would definitely be a great gift for the cupcake or cookie maker in your life!
6) Rolling Pin Guides
If you know someone who makes a lot of pies, rolled sugar cookies, or maybe even rolls out fondant then this is a great gift for them. Rolling pin guides come in a variety of sizes (usually 1/16″, 1/8″, and 1/4″) so that you can roll out your pie or cookie dough to the perfect thickness every time. I have a set of the pastry guides shown to the left as well as a set of rolling pin guide rings that fit right onto my rolling pin. There are different size rings to fit different rolling pins so if you are unsure of what kind of rolling pin the person has than the perfection strips are probably the safer option.
7) Natural Extracts
I have a full collection of natural extracts and flavors in my kitchen and I use them regularly. They can be used as a flavor booster (give your fresh strawberry cake even more strawberry flavor) or they can be used to experiment with new flavor combinations (add some mango to that strawberry cake). They are great for flavoring things like cookie dough, ice cream, yogurt, even coffee! These natural extracts/flavors are also waaaaay better than any of the artificial ones you find at the grocery store. I use both the Bakto brand as well as another brand called Silver Cloud Estates. Bakto is great for starts because they offer smaller bottles and have a lot of great collections like their Best Sellers, Fruit, or Winter collections.
8) Kitchen Scale
When baking any recipe, the best way to measure out your ingredients is by weight, and you can’t do that without a good kitchen scale. I’ve been using the Escali Pana scale for almost 5 years and it has been great. I especially like it because you can punch in a code for each ingredient and it will tell you what the equivalent volume is. That has come in handy when trying to take a recipe that is all in volume and translate it into weights (and vice versa). Escali makes a ton of other kitchen scales in different colors and sizes so there are plenty of options to choose from.
9) Chef’s Torch
I use my chef’s torch very often in the kitchen, but funny enough it isn’t for making something like creme brulee. I actually use it most often to warm the sides of my mixing bowl when making cake or cookie batter that has gotten too cold, especially in the winter when the temperature in the house drops. Besides using it for some MacGyver techniques like that I also use it for making classic creme brulee, browning meringues, or quickly toasting marshmallows for your s’mores.
10) Whipped Cream maker
I got one of these whipped cream makers as a wedding present and it has been a great addition to my kitchen. I love making fresh whipped cream over the store bought stuff and you can literally “whip” some up instantly. Whether it’s to top off for your apple pie, brownie sundae or piping hot pancakes. Be sure to get a supply of chargers for it. They are little gas cylinders that actually aerate the cream to whip it.