Thread title simplified so it can be repurposed later on.
My fiance has a birthday coming up this weekend. She LOVES to bake and I want to get her a baking related gift. Probably from somewhere local such as Bed Bath and Beyond. I’m on a fairly tight budget and can’t spend much more than $50.
I was thinking a cooling rack (something like this but I chose that more or less at random) and a rolling pin. She doesn’t have much gear and she mentioned a cooling rack recently, so I’m pretty sure that will be a win.
Cake tins, bread tins, bun trays, pizza trays, specialist flours, icing equipment, baking focused recipe books. If you get her stuff for the kind of baked goods that you will both enjoy that will be a definite long term relationship win as she’ll bake you stuff you enjoy eating and consequently feel good about her baking skills.
Too much baking can make you a bit fat though so watch out.
You can buy an unglazed stone tile from a hardware store and call it a pizza stone, that costs like $5.
More seriously though, if she’s serious about baking and doesn’t have one, I’d get her an electronic scale. You can find a lot of recipes that use weight measurements, and converting is problematic for some materials (compressible like flour, or highly variable like shredded cheese).
I’ve always wanted some sil-pats, non-stick silicone baking sheets that are basically re-usable parchment paper. They’re very cool, and not too expensive.
If you’re looking at a budget / beginning situation, a rolling pin is a waste of money, you’re better off just getting a thick wooden dowel (again, from a hardware store). You can even call it a french style rolling pin to save face.
Specific brands for the above are semi-random. I’ve had good luck with most things from Williams-Sonoma, though. Also check Sur-la-Table for additional brands and such.
edit: whee cross-posting! I’ll second the electronic scale recommendation. They’re a god-send, as lots of baking measuring is done by weight, not volume. We have this one at home and use it a ton. It’s $60, though.
I bought these on Cook’s Illustrated recommendation:
Happy with them because they fit in a half sheet perfectly which is useful for certain recipes and also helps with cleanup on others. Which is another good thing, if you have a local restaurant supply store picking up a couple of heavy steel gauge half sheets isn’t a bad idea. Considerably cheaper than high end models from places like Williams Sonoma and much, much better.
Also depending on what she bakes a good stone is very nice to have too:
They make a much greater difference than I thought, assuming you get this one; most are crap.
Unglazed stone tiles are typically far too small and then you have the lead issue to worry about. I just paid the $36 for the Old Stone but yes, you can get away with something cheaper if you willing to fiddle with finding one of the right size or buying six of them.
And electronic scales? Wouldn’t bake with out mine:
I also like my bench scraper far more than I thought I would:
I second the digital scale. Baking is about mass, not volume. Third vote for a bench knife as well.
As already mentioned, don’t buy an unglazed stone tile as a baking stone, unless you can find actual quarry tile, which has become become extremely difficult in the past few years. Your hardware store stone tile will be too thin to really function as a baking stone and will also be filled with some sort of grout that probably isn’t good to eat off of, especially after heating it to 500 degrees.
Only reservation: My sweetie is funny about precise measurements (and about using recipes for that matter - she strongly prefers to be a kitchen MacGyver, to much success), so I’m unsure about an electronic scale. Her dad taught her, from a very early age, to always trust her intuition and to measure by sight and although she does use measuring cups and spoons, she tends to prefer to rely on various techniques including this weird palm pinching move I still haven’t figured out. I understand, however, that with baking precision is pretty key so perhaps it’s worth the risk. :D
I’d totally agree with a silpat or two. Saves so much scrubbing later on.
Also, my sister got me an 18" rolling pin for Christmas (apparently by mistake) and it’s become not only a very useful tool, but a conversation piece for everyone who’s ever walked into my kitchen. <hint, hint> :)
Oh, if she’s not a measurer, and you want a non-kitchen item, Ratioby Michael Ruhlman is an amazing book.
It’s not all baking, but there’s some really neat stuff in there that basically tells you how to keep the key components set up so that you can riff off of those without affecting the basic nature of the product. Of course, most of the ratios are by weight…so you’re back to the scale. :)
Yeah, I forgot the smiley face on that one, Athryn. I think she’d actually love a silpat or two.
That Michael Ruhlman book looks great, CLW. I’ve reserved a copy at my local bookstore. I had wanted to get a non-baking book – Ernest M. Mickler’s White Trash Cooking II – because she has and loves the first book, but I can’t find a local copy.
So at this point it’s a book plus 1-3 of the items above (in addition to a couple of non-kitchen related gifts). Keep the ideas coming as I have another day or so before I stop brainstorming!
Just used it last night to turn out a batch of scones, and while the stuff that got on the actual cookie sheet stuck and had to be scraped off, nothing stuck to the Silpat. Not even the caramelized sugar from the lemon glaze.
Honestly… I get the idea of measuring by sight, and I’m fine doing so to make biscuits or maybe pasta, but most baking is such a science of chemistry ratios that I can’t imagine a digital scale wouldn’t be handy for some things. Accurately and consistently measuring flour by sight alone is simply impossible - you cannot see how much of the volume is air with a naked eye, and some baked goods are less forgiving than others if you’re off.
Amazon has generally has a nice selection of items that cost $10-$20 and are available in a 4-for-3 deal. My suggested items would be:
My aunt, a former professional baker, maintains that cooking is an art but baking is a science.
As for gifts, if you want to go for something that can be a bit personalised try an apron or handtowels. Hands will get buttery, floury and doughy as will your clothes. There are traditional aprons, funny aprons, heartfelt message aprons, and even professional type smocks from professional outfitters that you could get personalised.