The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Holiday Gifts for Bread Bakers

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Holiday Gifts for Bread Bakers

This is my basic my gift guide for bread lovers from previous years. The biggest difference is the addition of a French Oven to the list, since the no knead technique that has taken the internet by storm works best with one.


I've had a couple of people ask me to recommend gifts for the bread lovers in their lives. Here are some ideas.

Essentials

Alright, maybe it is not an essential, but Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice is still my favorite baking book by far. None of the other books I've read exude the same exuberance, the same enthusiasm for baking as Peter's book. This book is precious. Being into artisan bread baking and not having this books is like being into rock and roll but never having heard The Rolling Stones. If you know someone who likes to bake but doesn't have this book, get it for them immediately.

A Kitchen Scale is critical for baking with baker's percentages. One that supports both metric and imperial weights also makes many more recipes available to you. There are dozens to choose from, so finding one that fits your needs and pocketbook shouldn't be too difficult.

I consider an instant-read themometer an essential now. Absolutely the best way to know when your loaf is ready.

A baking stone is really critical to making top-notch breads and pizzas. I have this one and have been very happy with it. An inexpensive investment, but well worth the cost.

Gear

A French Oven Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about the No-knead bread technique from the New York Times that is blowing people's minds. I was sceptical about it, but having looked at people's pictures I'm impressed with the results that even brand new bakers get using this approach.Using this technique and a heavy iron pot or a French Oven can result in extremely high quality results.

A stand mixer would make an excellent gift for someone getting into bread baking. I got my first one, an inexpensive KitchenAid, this year. I was hesitant to get one since I love hand kneading, but I've found that I bake at least two or three times as often now that I have one since I can be preparing a second dough while the first dough is mixing. And I still have plenty of opportunities to hand knead. The cost of a stand mixer can vary greatly. You can get a decent starter one for just over $100 USD or spend as much as $700 for a high end model.

Baguette pans are a nice idea for someone who bakes French bread often. There is nothing more disappointing than having a beautiful baguette ruined when you are trying to transfer it to the oven. These help prevent those problems.

Banneton are an inexpensive way to make one's loaves look that much nicer.

Other Books

Other books I recommend include Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, Peter Reinhart's American Pie, Joe Ortiz's The Village Baker, Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf, and Linda Collister and Anthony Blake's Country Breads of the World. Do you have additional recommendations? If so, please comment with your suggestions

Comments

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Here's a few other gifts a bread baker might enjoy:

A cloche is less expensive than a French baker and about the same price as a heavy cast iron dutch oven from Lodge, with the difference that the cloche is designed for bread. Great oven spring and a lovely, crispy crust.

For those who don't own a mixer, or even those who do own a KA, but who still like to mix it up old school every so often, a dough whisk makes combining ingredients a snap, even with really stiff bagel dough.

A bench knife is so useful, I hardly know where to begin. Great for dividing dough, picking really wet dough up off a board, scraping sticky dough bits and dried gunk off the board when cleaning up .... A great tool.

Ok, I'm an unabashed KAF fan-boy, but King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking really is a great cookbook. Just about every recipe is at least half whole grain, and, though the bread recipes are excellent (see how the whole grain ciabatta turned out for me), it's only about 20% of the book. Lots of cookies, cakes, pancakes, muffins and more to go around.

Baker's linen is an extravagance, but that's exactly what makes it a nice gift -- it's something a baker is unlikely to buy for him or herself, and it's very useful for proofing baguettes, batards or any other shaped loaf that's not a round.

Last, a Super Peel, an ingenious conveyor-belt crossed with a baker's peel that makes transfering a pizza from counter to stone a snap. No photo here, but there are some very impressive short videos on the site that demonstrate exactly what this device can do.