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.
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 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 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