The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What would make a great gift?

Sue2's picture

What would make a great gift?


My sister has been baking bread for about a year now, and had produced some fabulous cheddar cheese and 7-grain honey breads.  Her birthday is coming up, and I would like to get her something special.  So I am here to ask:  What does a bread baker need/want?

She currently uses metal pans.  Are the stoneware and terra cotta pans worth the investment?  Are they harder to clean?  (I do not want to cause her more work!)

She makes bread by hand, not machine, and in small batches.  I'm not sure what else you might need to know, as I am only the lucky recipient of her talents.

Any suggestions?  Thank you.


flournwater's picture

First thing that comes to mind is a baking stone.  You indicated she uses metal pans.  That suggests to me that she makes typical sandwich style loaves and not artisan breads.  Along with the stone, give her a book on artisan breads (e.g. Dan DiMuzio's "Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective") and if you've got a few bucks left over, include a cast iron (enambled or not) dutch oven.

GrapevineTexas's picture

I can't do without mine.  I bake breads and cookies on it.   Also, my pizza peel is invaluable.  I recently purchased a 16'' and LOVE IT!

My favorite book would be Peter Reinhart's, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. 

Ove-Gloves are nice, too.  They allow me to move my large rectangular baking stone, effortlessly, when it is piping hot!




flournwater's picture

Forgot about the Ov-Glove.  My wife got me one with a new apron (she's tired of trying to get the caked flour out of my shirts) for Christmas and it's terrific.

KenK's picture

I don't need a stone or peel to make good bread.  The other reason I don't have those items is because I'm a chintzy titewad.  It would make me very happy to receive them as gift.

An assortment of high zoot flours and a pound of yeast would be a nice addition.

will slick's picture
will slick

I'll drop her a hint!


LindyD's picture

A good beginner's book, such as Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, and a baking stone.  Some parchment would be nice, too.  Then she can use a cookie sheet to double as a peel.

sphealey's picture

A Thermapen(tm) probe thermometer (fast read version).  A scale if she doesn't have one (I like the MyWeight i5000).  A bunch of plastic dough scrapers (typically 99 cents/ea) with her favorite flour logos on them. A silicone kneading mat.  A lot of spatulas.

I do agree with the baking stone idea too; one of our Fresh Loavers is selling stones cut from the material used in commercial bakery ovens.

I do like ceramic mixing bowls, but that is a personal preference and she might be more comfortable with the metal ones. 

Hamelman's _Bread_, as a book for someone who is already well into the artisan mode.

Have fun shopping! 


Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

It's what I wanted (and got!) for my birthday last year.  I find it indispensable throughout the baking process.  It's spendy, but worth it. 

Sue2's picture

So many ideas!  This may serve for next Christmas as well.

What about a wooden bread rising bowl?  I saw one at Lehman's:

I do some wood carving and thought I could make one.

Can anyone recommend a good stone?  I have heard that you can use an unglazed floor tile from Home Depot (for the thrifty, like me!) but I'm not sure.  Is someone on this site selling stones?


Bwana B's picture
Bwana B

10 Jan 2009


Hi, Sue2:


The perfect gift?  How about this:  Give your sister a big birthday hug, the obligatory birthday card, and a gift certificate from and tell her you decided on this gift because you wanted her to buy "exactly" what she wants.


I sounds to me like your sister has the magic touch. If I understand you correctly, your sister doesn't want a stand mixer; she only makes small batches of bread dough and prefers to make her breads by hand. Makes sense to me. So, I guess the Kitchen Aid Professional 600 series stand mixer with all attachments is not a gift option.


There's no magic bread pan - the magic comes from a baker's dough making skill. People have been making bread without machines for over 8,000 years!  I wasn't present where and when the first loaf of bread was made, I was fishing at the time, but was copied regarding the event by e-mailed the following day. Seriously, let's look at a few facts about small-batch bread making; machine kneading vs. hand kneading.


1) My cousin (65 years old) has tons of money and she prefers to knead her bread dough by hand. She has only a few Pyrex and metal bread pans and a couple of pizza pans (she uses the pizza pans for pizza and for baking the so-called artisan breads), and she has most of the worlds supply of wooden spoons - she has a thing about wooden spoons. She has a baking stone I gave her about 10 years ago, but she doesn't use it; it's still in the sealed box and is stored in her basement. The lady makes some of the best bread I ever eaten, and she doesn't own any stoneware or terra catta bread pans.  


2) Did you know this:  A well trained baker can hand knead a small batch of dough as fast as a stand mixer and not only that, s/he can produce a better dough than the a stand mixer or food processor. The biggest problem for those who design stand mixers is getting the thing to duplicat the mechanics of kneading by hand. Duh?


3) Here's the point I'm making: If a person who kneads small batches of bread dough can keep pace with a stand mixer and produce a better dough,  and therefore, a better bread, where is the justificaton for spending the big bucks for such machines? And, there's something to be said for the enjoyment of hand kneading that's not in the aforementioned consideration and let's not forget the fact that your sister can wash her hands and her mixing bowl a lot faster than I can wash my hands, the mixer paddle, the mixer hook, the mixer bowl, and the mixer bowl cover-shield. I rest my case.


However, and this is very important: If your sister openly expresses that she would like to have the above described stand mixer with all its attachments, then I take everything I've said here back and point out the fact that this particular stand mixer will do a lot more than knead dough; when left on high speed it will clean the house, wash the car, attract good looking guys, and control the weather, and you can purchase tihis amazing machine for your sister for only about $450 bucks (plus a few more bucks for all the attachmenrs) and no sales tax, if ordered from an out-of state on-line service.  Did I mention it will also mow the lawn, shovel snow, and do your taxes?


I'm sure whatever you decide on for your sister's birthday present, she will like your choice. 






Gourmand2go's picture

I agree with #3 above, also making pie crust and mixing batter for muffins is better done by hand.

I have the KA Deluxe 5 quart and it's just the thing for mixing batter for cheesecake or pound cake because mixing a batter on high speed for 10 minutes with a hand mixer is not a good use of time.  I also make iced buttermilk with the icecream attachment, and plan at some point to get the grinder attachment so that I can make my own extra-lean ground beef for meat pies and dog food.

But mostly, the KA looks pretty on the counter.  ;)  It's like a sports car for your kitchen.


Sue2's picture

Flournwater... I looked up the book you had recommended.  It sounds excellent, but one of the reviews on said that the metric to English conversions were wrong.  It seems to me that this would make all the recipes incorrect and be a big negative for this book.  But all the other reviewers loved the book.  Have you found any problems in this regard?

Here is the review: