Secret Santa: Baker edition
November 27, 2016 6:54 AM   Subscribe

You: A person who loves to bake as a hobby. Me: Your secret santa with $30 to spend. What 2 to 3 gifts would make your baking more fun?

This is a different person than a similar question I asked 3 years ago (where does the time go?). This time, the person loves to bake, and will often try new recipes for fun.
posted by codacorolla to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Gift card from King Arthur Flour?
posted by transient at 7:06 AM on November 27, 2016 [6 favorites]

Silpat or any silicone baking sheets are so helpful and I'm always misplacing mine.
posted by xingcat at 7:13 AM on November 27, 2016 [11 favorites]

Food scale to more precisely measure ingredients
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:14 AM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Precut parchment sheets!
posted by ftm at 7:16 AM on November 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Cookie scoop? They're like $12 on Amazon and I don't think I'll ever buy myself one but I'd love to have it.
posted by bilabial at 7:22 AM on November 27, 2016 [9 favorites]

One of those combo dough slicer / bench scraper thingies.
posted by emilyw at 7:23 AM on November 27, 2016 [9 favorites]

Plastic rings to add to rolling pins to measure dough thickness accurately.

Electronic candy thermometer.

Fancy Russian nozzles (if they're into icing cakes)

A good offset spatula, bench scraper or pallette knife.
posted by citands at 7:24 AM on November 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Seconding Silpat mats - life changing, really.
posted by fixedgear at 7:40 AM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I can never have too many cooling racks, personally 🍪
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2016 [11 favorites]

I would love a second silpat mat, but for a similar gift situation I bought a Nordic Ware baking pan, a fancy bundt one. They have some really cool designs that would be delightful to receive, like the rose shaped small buns, or the hexagon honeycombs our the silver dollar pancake series with the different flowers embossed...
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2016 [17 favorites]

Given that they probably have a good amount of baking stuff already, try to figure out where some of it is from (williams-Sonoma, bed, bath, and best on, etc). But something interesting at one of those stores and give it with a gift receipt. They may love your gift or they'll have an opportunity for something that works better (ex they have a million cooling racks and need a dough scraper instead)
posted by raccoon409 at 8:05 AM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been baking for 30 years, and have all the equipment I need (and can store), but love getting high-end ingredients I don't usually buy: Valrhona or fair trade chocolate; pure vanilla; New Zealand or very local, organic honey; sampler box of Penzey's spices (will last forever); King Arthur Flour's grain mixes if they baking whole-grain breads.
posted by JawnBigboote at 8:10 AM on November 27, 2016 [55 favorites]

If they like to decorate cakes or cookies what about some fun decorations or food colors. Something maybe they wouldn't buy themselves but that gets used up
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:12 AM on November 27, 2016

Assuming you'd want to look for fun/fancy things they are not likely to have already:

fancy bundt cake pan (these can be hard to store, so make sure it wouldn't be more of a burden than a blessing)

Do they make cookies? Then:
- fancy/fun cookie cutters
- cookie molds
- madeline pan
- special rolling pin for springerle/shortbread cookies.

Do they make muffins/quickbreads?
- fancy/fun mini muffin pans.

Rasp for grating spices -- these seem to get dull, so even if they already have one, having a new one could be nice. Plus, these are smaller and easier to store.

Do they bake pies?
- a pie crust guard has changed my life!
- pie weights are nice, but she probably already has them if she wants them.


Then there's the whole world of "pretty things to show off the baking", which would be a good choice since it's not the kind of "tools of the trade" that a baker would want to select for herself:

- 3-tiered cookie stands, serving trays, little plates

- teapots, tea cups, tea to serve with pastries

- lovely small plates

- fancy cloth napkins (vintage, maybe)
posted by amtho at 8:19 AM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'd expect them to already have most of what they need, so I'd go for paper cupcake liners and other disposable packaging in really cool designs and colors.
posted by metasarah at 8:19 AM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Spice blends, if you have access to a higher end store. Small shops often have their own mixtures, which usually aren't available to anyone other than locals.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:25 AM on November 27, 2016

Ingredients from Penzeys Spices are always good -
Madagascar vanilla beans
Double strength vanilla extract

Baking gift box, 4 mini jars
Baking gift box, 4 jar
Cocoa Lovers gift box
List of all spices (you can pick "baking" or "vanilla" for sub-lists of those)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:31 AM on November 27, 2016 [13 favorites]

Penzey's cinnamons are also from a completely different universe than grocery store cinnamon.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:37 AM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

(Do not ship from Penzeys directly to their house, though, or Penzeys will add them to their junk mail list.)
posted by aniola at 8:38 AM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

TripleXXX Vanilla sells a reeally cute vanilla-making set. Full disclosure, I went to a workshop at a chocolate fest and she guest authored in our cookbook.
posted by aniola at 8:45 AM on November 27, 2016

Yeah, a serious hobby baker is not gonna need you to buy them a baking scale or silpat but will LOVE a gift of upscale ingredients. Penzey's is great. There's also this vanilla bean paste you can buy on Amazon that's amazing for baking.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:46 AM on November 27, 2016

Response by poster: The Penzey's idea is a good one. She's made her own vanilla extract before, and really raved about how it came out, so I think my combination of spices, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and cocoa powder (which had a free gift coupon on RetailMeNot) is a winner.
posted by codacorolla at 10:46 AM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Mr. gudrun, who is the baker in the family, says you can't go wrong with Nielsen-Massey vanilla, an oil like the Boyajian lemon oil, or Vietnamese cinnamon.
posted by gudrun at 10:50 AM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've got a butane torch (to fire creme brulee) on my list this year.

And yes to great spices!!!
posted by Ftsqg at 10:57 AM on November 27, 2016

Does your recipient have a KitchenAid mixer? If you know what model, a paddle with silicon sweeper extenders like this one works a lot better than the standard paddle.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:08 PM on November 27, 2016

Seconding you buy high quality versions of commonly used ingredients, because they are fungible, so people won't have a drawer full of them from all the people who bought them before you.

Source: married to a baker, had our daughters buy her cookie cutters for Christmas one year, learnt about the Big Box Where Cookie Cutters Live After Being Used Once Or Twice.
posted by kandinski at 2:31 PM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

A Springerle rolling pin.
posted by tel3path at 5:00 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I bake quite a bit and am quite fond of the Williams-Sonoma "spoonula". I've given a number as gifts over the years and people who like baking always seem to find them useful.

Other gifts in the price range that I have greatly appreciated:
  • good baking sheets
  • very high quality ingredients, hard-to-find spices, or other consumables
  • cookbooks
  • bread forms
  • really nice measuring spoons or cups

posted by Nerd of the North at 7:28 PM on November 27, 2016

In the realm of trying new recipes - I'm into low carb cooking and I like to make muffins with coconut flour and almond flour (to me they make better muffins than regular flour). I make a variant on this one every few months. You can get 1lb bags in the $8-10 range at your local hippie/yuppie market.

And now I'm going to go buy some Penzey's stuff for myself...
posted by MillMan at 10:25 PM on November 27, 2016

I know you've gotten some good answers already, but for posterity - a great one is always vanilla beans, they're pretty special/luxe/pricey but can be had semi-affordably online and they are stellar to have for baking or cooking or extract-making.
posted by R a c h e l at 7:42 AM on November 28, 2016

So Serious Eats posted this this morning, in case you needed still more ideas :)
posted by ftm at 8:18 AM on November 28, 2016

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