Baking is both a science and an art—food scales, baker's percentages, and fermentation temperatures are crucial to successful pastry, and some might argue that presentation is the most judgment-worthy part of the whole process. Finding the right gifts for bakers is another art in itself, so we spoke with Judy Kim, food stylist and baker extraordinaire, to get some ideas. Additionally, in our roundup of the best gifts for bakers, we included some of the baking tools we loved most in 2019: The pie plate that won our product test. The cake turntable our editor used for perfectly-frosted cakes. And Silpat baking molds that made our madeleines look like they came from a bakery. Below are the best baking gifts to give, no matter if the recipient swears by back-of-the-box recipes or nurtures their sourdough mother daily.
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The Best Gifts for Beginner Bakers
Escali Digital Scale
A good kitchen scale is essential for a new baker. It allows for a precision that measuring cups could never offer and it also means less dishes! This kitchen scale is a staple in our test kitchen. It doesn't look like anything fancy: the body is made of molded plastic and the interface has just two buttons—an on/off switch that doubles as a tare button (which resets the scale to zero so you can weigh multiple ingredients in the same bowl without having to add and subtract in your head) and another button that toggles the display between grams, ounces, and pounds. As a result, it's intuitive to operate right out of the box. And don't let the compact size fool you: the Escali has a capacity of 11 pounds—which should be plenty for most amateur cooking and baking needs, whether you're weighing a sack of apples for pie, portioning out burger patties, or measuring flour for sourdough loaves.
“You simply cannot live without these for baking,” says Judy. From frosting cakes and evenly spreading batter into a pan to transferring fresh-outta-the-oven cookies from baking sheet to cooling rack in one fell swoop, offset spatulas are a baking gift that will get plenty of action. The long, narrow blade and offset flipper is optimal for all of the above and more (go ahead, use it to butter the bread for grilled cheese sandwiches and to flip said sandwich). They’re affordable, so gift a few in varying sizes.
Give the gift of oomph, delicate crumbs, and the dreamiest, fluffiest desserts by way of the balloon whisk. The way eggs are whipped into batter is crucial to the final texture of a cake, and this whisk—with its especially large, round, "balloon-shaped" end—preserves the beautiful airiness of whipped eggs while quickly helping you blend in other ingredients. The long handle and round stainless steel wires make for easy blending, whipping, and beating, whether making a show-stopping soufflé or an elegant meringue pie.
Silpat Baking Molds
When we tested them earlier this year, Silpat baking molds gave us by far the most beautiful baked goods we've ever made. The molds inspire a certain confidence: confidence that whatever you’ve poured into the mold will come out again, without greasing, flouring, parchment paper, or a fight. If you, like us, have major anxiety about un-molding baked goods, Silpat baking molds are helpful in alleviating some of that stress. They're also especially valuable when baking in batches: The Silpat cools down quickly, meaning you can take the cakes out of their molds faster. And it's so effectively nonstick that there’s no need to wash, dry, then re-grease or re-line with parchment paper before filling with the next round of batter.
A Classic KitchenAid Stand Mixer
If you know a budding baker who does not yet own this classic kitchen appliance, it's the perfect gift. Like many KitchenAid mixers, this one comes with a coated flat beater, a coated dough hook, a 6-wire whisk, and a 4.5 quart stainless steel mixing bowl. The flat beater and dough hook are dishwasher-safe. With 10 speeds, this stand mixer is powerful enough for nearly any task or recipe, whether you’re combining flour, kneading bread dough, or whipping cream.
The Best Gifts for Pie Lovers
Maybe your recipient's cakes and tarts are like works of art, maybe they’re not. Either way, chances are they’ve put time and effort into the presentation, and it would be a shame for their hard work to crumble during transport to its final destination. This handcrafted, reusable raw pine box—designed to safely transport pies—is an excellent (and fashionable) way to make sure baked goods remains intact and beautiful. You can even opt for including the leather strap, which loops around the box for easy toting.
BUY IT: PieBox, $28–$55 at Food52
Wooden Rolling Pin
A rolling pin has the potential to make or break (literally) your pie crust and sugar cookie dough. Like a cast-iron pan, a rolling pin can develop a good patina over the years if cared for properly—never soak, seldom use soap, always dry fully, and wipe down with spoon butter every so often.
Judy makes the most photogenic pies we've ever seen. They are also melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but those things photograph like Santorini at sunset—you’ve probably seen them on her Instagram feed. “These pie cutters give the pie just that little extra pizazz, and leaves like these are beautiful year round. They’re also the perfect size for scraps, so no dough will go to waste.” Judy recommends freezing the cut-outs and attaching them with egg wash before baking so the pastry keeps its shape in the oven.
The Best Pie Plate
This sturdy metal dish was the winner of our product test of the best pie plates earlier this year. The pies our tester, professional baker Yossy Arefi, made in it baked evenly to a perfect golden brown color and the slices were easy to remove when cool. This dish especially excelled in the berry pie test, and produced the most evenly baked and crisp crust of the bunch. Pies still baked up golden and tasty, and the slices were easy to remove from the pan without leaving any residue behind.
Large Baking Steel
Behold, the quintessential baking steel. “Aside from pizza, I love baking pies directly on the steel, especially ones that need to be blind baked,” Judy explains. “You can skip that fussy step and still get a crispy bottom. It will save you time and result in a tender crust since you’re less likely to over-bake it.” This is also an opportunity to make a decorative shell, say, with the aforementioned cutouts.
The Best Gifts for Cake Lovers
Bundtlette Cake Pan
Aside from being a delightful word (try not to smile when saying Bundtlette!), this miniature version of the popular Heritage Bundt shape should get your baker excited about cake of any and all flavors. Nordic Ware is to Bundt as Kleenex is to tissue, so know that this is the real deal. Plus, if you feel inspired, there are dozens more cool shapes to choose from here.
A Cake Turntable
2019 will officially be known as the year our digital director David Tamarkin tried to keep himself in cake—every day. That's right, he got super in to baking cakes and aimed to have one on his counter at all times. Along this journey, he discovered a love of this inexpensive, highly-effective turntable. It'll allow you to frost your cakes to perfection. If you want to make 2020 your year of cake and have a loved one who you'd like to keep you in cake, buy this immediately as a gift that will benefit all parties involved—but mostly you.
The Best Gifts for the Baker Who Has Everything
Tartine: A Classic Revisited
Any experienced baker likely already owns a copy of the Tartine cookbook—a bible of baking recipes from one of the country's best bakeries. So, they'll appreciate the completely revised edition published this year, which offers more than 50 new recipes, including Tartine's famous morning buns.
Measuring Cup Set
Sure, experienced bakers already have a more utilitarian set of measuring cups. But, if they're truly baking every day, they deserve some beautiful ones as well. These nesting cups feature a stylish pattern reminiscent of a tiled bistro floor and, though they're beautiful, they don't feel too delicate to get tossed around in a flour-splattered kitchen. Bonus: they could definitely double as serving bowls for small snacks like nuts or olives.
Fancy Olive Oil
2019 was also the year we decided that olive oil was—controversial opinion alert!—better than butter for cakes. If you have an olive-oil cake lover in your family, consider splurging for a fancy bottle of this deeply-flavored, rich, beautiful-bottled olive oil. It'll be an unexpected gift for an experience baker. And it will lend grassy, green-banana flavor to your go-to olive oil cake recipe totally transforming it into something elegant enough for a trendy Italian restaurant. It's also pretty enough that you don't need to wrap it. Put a bow around the neck and call it a day!
A Cake Knife
Is a cake knife a knife of absolute necessity? Most people will tell you it's not. But our associate editor (and massively talented cake baker) Joe Sevier begs to differ. And He really, genuinely believes that if you're a cake enthusiast (and who isn't a cake enthusiast? Only certifiably bad people), you need a cake knife. Read here for the five reasons he thinks you should own one. Bonus: it makes a great gift for bakers who already have everything else.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious