The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I have a gift certificate to use for whatever - what should I get?

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I have a gift certificate to use for whatever - what should I get?

This gift certificate was given to be spent on me. Not the kids, not for 'needs', but for what I want. They know I love to cook and bake, so they would love it if I spent it on some toys for the kitchen.


 


Also, we recently just moved into a new house and redid the kitchen. I now have a 6 burner gas cooktop and a double oven, one being convection. I have TONS of counter space and quite a bit of storage space. Storage extends into the adjoining mudroom where I have 13 feet of wall cabinets and one 30" base cabinet. In the basement I saved the 4' long by 6' tall butler's pantry and a 5' base cabinet peninsula and the matching upper cabinets. Half of this is empty in the basement.


I do a lot of cooking and baking - including decorating cakes for fun and now baking our daily breads. We are a three generation home with my mother in law, my husband and me and our two boys - a teen and a 5 year old with high functioning autism.


I already have a lot as I looooooove kitchen stuff, but I'm sure there are some needs there that would make it easier for me with baking especially. Here's what I have already:


DLX black chrome mixer


Kitchen AId handheld mixer


Soehlne digital scale


two small brotforms


oven stone


grill pizza stone (still unused)


Panasonic breadmaker


all sorts of spoons, mixing bowls, scrapers, mixing cups


standard bread pans


3 kinds of rolling pins - traditional, french, and silicone.


Several silicone mats


Digital thermometers (remote)


 


So, what am I missing from the breadmaking repetoire? I can think of some things I don't have, but do I need them over other this? Things like: - a lame/bread slasher, a bigger banneton, couche, cloche?

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

How much is the gift certificate?

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

It's for $50, but I can supplement it for up to another $50 or so. Plus, I don't mind getting ideas for other things too!

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I'll have to opt for the idea, at these grills are a bit more than $100.


http://www.waringproducts.com/com/catalog/index.php?cat_id=30


I bought the Panini Perfetto and I love it, but if I had to buy it over again, I'd go for one of the models with the flat plates, as they would be easier to clean. 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I have a much simpler device (whcih we hardly use - except for making pizelle's for Christmas and the occasional waffle. It's this: http://www.amazon.com/Krups-FDD813-Master-Pizzelle-Sandwich/product-reviews/B0000AFX5K/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1   The reviews are horrible, but besides the varying heat thing, it's worked for me. I just can't imagine needing a panini press. Interesting hwo that is something I cannot imagine ever using as I can almost always find a reason to have a kitchen gadget! LOL

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Ja, you have to be a sandwich nut like me to really find a use for them.


You can also use it to grill steaks and chickens and sausages and other beasts of deliciousness, even if that's not its intended use.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I wouldn't spend money on a couche. When I see them being sold for $40 a yard, I point at my computer screen and make angry faces.


I just go to an art supply store and buy a couple yards of canvas/linen (originally typed lenin, so guess I'm still on high from buying my CCCP bike jersey to annoy the local tea partiers).


It's very cheap and durable and perfect for couche.

bnom's picture
bnom

I love having a couche---I've used both heavy cotton canvas and linen and prefer the linen.  Which is about 10/yd from San Francisco Baking Institute.


Second the suggestion on a good bread knife. I like my Global knife a lot.


How about a dough whisk?  


 


 

foodslut's picture
foodslut

.... because I couldn't believe how much more efficient mixing smaller bowl-sized batches of dough becomes compared to using a spoon.  I got mine at KAF (get the big one), and have had zero problems with it.

bnom's picture
bnom

I actually don't own a dough whisk....what I use is my flat sauce whisk. Works great for bread and sauce...  I posted about it awhile back:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17437/wonderful-breadmixing-tool-you-may-already-own


 


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD


It's very cheap and durable and perfect for couche.



Have you ever used a linen couche?  I think not, as while canvas is cheap, it is certainly not more durable than linen, nor is it $40 a yard.


I have both, using canvas for a a couple years before switching over to SFBI's linen ($10.50/yard).  The linen is superior, especially in the way it wicks moisture from the dough.  It is a softer fabric, dries faster than canvas, and is easier to work with when moving doughs from the couche.


Canvas will work, but by no means is it perfect for couche and one never wastes money when purchasing quality over cheap.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Use canvas all the time. Works perfectly. Even use it on bagel boards. No need to waste money on $10.50/yd linen when I can get canvas for 90% less.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

How about a couple of baguette brotforms?


(I've ordered from this website before and was satisfied).

foodslut's picture
foodslut

Don't bother spending big money on a lame when you can get a good result with any serrated knife, utility box cutter, or even a safety razor blade on a fast food coffee stir stick.


May seem obvious, but I see you don't list a bread knife.  I've had great success with the cheaper (but just as good) Victorinox series of professional kitchen knives:


http://is.gd/ebUnv (10 1/4 inch bread knife)


http://is.gd/ebUq6 (8 inch bread knife)


Good quality and feel (comparable to the ones with the fancy-shmancy rosewood handles, which I like for aesthetic reasons), but not expensive at all.  Hell, you can lose one and not cry, like you would losing a $100 knife.  When I've taught young people how to make bread or cook something, I've sometimes given them a Victorinox chef's knife/bread knife/paring knife set from the same line for less than $100 as a "first set of good knives" housewarming present.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Ibhave some good knives, but it is true my bread knife stinks. Though my mother in law now lives with us has a decent knife.

I also have a pizza peel I couldn't live without.

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

They cost about $250, but you surely will love your breads more if you use any whole wheat or rye in your recipies! 


Or rare perfumed olive oils, porcini mushrooms, or truffles?

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I am not there yet with baking. Maybe some day, but it would take a long time to recuperate the cost of grinding my own flour. I calculates it recently and it would take like 5 years.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

This is not a hobby that lends itself to amortization or weight loss. :D

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi,


You seem to have a great range of equipment! I'm just starting out again on bread baking and apart from the banetton/couche and baking stone the thing I use most is a digital probe thermometer which can be pushed into the bread to read the internal temperature. Don't know if you have one already but I found it a real boon? They are also relatively inexpensive so there would be change over for other good items.


The other thing is some really, really ace oven gloves or even gauntlets. I use a peel to load a preheated baking stone but even so with the oven temperature around 500F the high heat resistant mini gauntlets that I also wear to peel bread and remove it from the oven have been brilliant. I can feel the heat  through ordinary fabric gloves at these temperatures even when my hands are not directly on any surface so no longer use these.


You don't say if you have any good baking or cake making books? Given that your equipment and storage is already so good that could be one good way of adding to your baking skills. Perhaps you have a lot but there are still so many good ones out there. There are lots of good recommendations and reviews on this site. A lot of people really rate Hamelman's Bread although you need to get what is best for you, obviously.


Enjoy your gift whatever you choose to get.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I read that as "A lot of people really hate Hamelman's Bread".


I was in disbelief.


Then I re-read and saw "A lot of people really rate Hamelman's Bread".


;?

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Sorry to give you a moment of shock! - was meant to be approval but I can see how it could read differently. Of course we like Bread :-)


Daisy_A

wassisname's picture
wassisname

removed due to redundancy caused by slow typing=)

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi,


Just an afterthought. I realize I've been talking above about what I have already and have found very helpful..


However, if someone gave me a gift certificate to spend on something lovely for the kitchen I would buy the best quality end grain chopping board that I could.


You may have some good chopping boards already. I have several, some great, some average but they get used so much a real top end one would be a treat and kind on the knives.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

These are some great ideas. I do have quite a stash of cookbooks and bakig books, but I do want some like hamelmans bread and a few othhers. I have them in my cart at amazon.

I do have a nice cutting board with a grids for crumbs to fall through. Butbits probably hard on the knives, but it has been nice to keep the kids from making a mess. A nice end grain cutting would be a nice luxury.

And yes, I have exact kind of thermomter you are mentioning And I have nice oven mitts.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Here are some things I'm thinking about.

1. A larger brotform for large loaves. And maybe one for a baguette. I ciurrently have a smallish round one and a smallish oval one.

2. Baking books Bread, amy's bread and the Sweeter Side of Amys bread

3. A yogurt maker (one that makes 1-2 quarts) I don't have the means to keep heat at that temperature otherwise.

4. Material for linen couche

5. Grinder attachment for my dlx mixer. ( for meats)

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

Instead of buying the yogurt maker (which you'd use just to make yogurt), you might consider getting a food dehydrator. I had one that I loved (sold it when I moved - don't have the space in this apt). I'd get fruit in season, marked down at Boston's Haymarket (outdoor retail market that's been in existance for decades - a bit rough around the edges, but boy can I get bargains there!) I dried fruit for biscotti & bread (& munching) and we had some delicious fruit leathers... dried cherry tomatoes that were unbelievable on pizza.. and more.


Of course, the really good ones cost more than $50. I had an Excelsior - but, being me, if I had the room I'd have my son help me with this instead:


http://www.k-clements.fsnet.co.uk/dehydrator.html


And while he's at it, I'd like him to build me a tiny house on my own property... hey, I can dream..hehe :D


There are also less expensive dehydrators out there - some might be fine. Haven't looked in a few yrs, so I don't know.


 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I'm not big into dehydrated foods. I had a dehydrator and gave it away. I think I would rather can foods and actually that is a possibility too.

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Oh Fun!!


Couche fabric from SFBI and a transfer board  Get the cookbook by Ciril Hitz It has a wonderful DVD which is a real help for certain breads.  The book is very reasonably priced.  Pam

maiasimon's picture
maiasimon

good bench knife.  Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.  I recently bought it and may have to make every recipe in it!  And I have his Whole Grain Breads from the library - very good on the science of bread baking and many WW recipes to try. 

maiasimon's picture
maiasimon

good bench knife.  Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.  I recently bought it and may have to make every recipe in it!  And I have his Whole Grain Breads from the library - very good on the science of bread baking and many WW recipes to try. 

amauer's picture
amauer

There are a lot on that list I want! This has nothing to do with bread, but I love my Kitchen Aid immersion blender for soups, gravy, sauces....Good conversation about the linen vs. Canvas. My T-towel couches' anchored by whatever will hold leave something to be desired. Andrea

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

This is getting to be a terrific list!


Your mention of the blender reminded me of the only kitchen toy I'm thrilled I have: a Bamix stick blender. Among other things, I make homemade mayonnaise in about a minute - but best trick ever is whipping nonfat milk into a topping that's thick as whipped cream! Love to top coffee & hot cocoa w/it - even use it on sweetened strawberries. Yum!

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I've had an immersion blender for years and I can't imagine not having it. I cream soups right in the pot. No more messy spills with the blender and it's great for whipping cream

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, berryblondeboys.


You have the basics. I will add a few of my personal favorite bread baking toys:


* A Super Peel This is a truly great product. It makes loading loaves into the oven almost idiot proof. No more baguettes flying off the back edge of the baking stone onto the lower rack (or the oven floor). 


* An Anchor-Hocking 2-quart measuring pitcher with lid . This is my favorite container for fermenting dough. It's a good size (as long as your batch isn't too big). It's graduated, so no more guessing when your dough has doubled. It has a pretty air-tight cover, so no plasti-crap, and the dough doesn't dry out. Best of all, you can sit and watch the dough get all bubbly. I have two of them.


* Silicone covers When I need to ferment more dough than will fit in a 2-quart pitcher, I use a really big bowl and cover it with this gem. It makes an amazing, air-tight seal. Again, no plasti-crap. It washes up easily. I have them in 3 sizes for different diameter bowls. Good for covering bowls with other stuff besides dough. In a pinch, works as trivet.


* Last, but not least, a Baker's Blade Holder and razor blades (Scroll down the page until you find them.) I've tried so many tools for scoring bread, and this just works better than any others I've tried. (And no, I have not tried a whetstone-sharpened un-coiled antique watch spring with beveled edges ... yet.)


Enjoy your shopping, and happy baking!


David

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Hi David,


Thank you for your kind words!


I believe that you had ordered the Super Peel Expander Kit quite a while back.  This has been a bit of a work in progress.  Would be interested in any comments.  I have added an aluminum wear and low fiction strip to the front and back edge.  This is a strip of 5 mil aluminum tape and I can send you some if you would like to upgrade.


Hoping to have a little more time to bake (mostly gluten free) and visit here, as I have left the day job effecitive last Thursday!  Yeah!


Gary 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Gary.


I hope it's evident I love my Super Peel, and I did get the Expander Kit.


The Expander Kit is a great idea, but it needs work. On one of my first uses, one of the plastic gizmos that holds the fabric on the rod popped off and landed on the oven floor. By time I retrieved it (a matter of 5 seconds or so), it had expanded and doesn't grip very well any more.


I think I can picture the "upgrade" to which you referred. Does it delay wear and tear or improve performance? I use the Expander Kit most of the time. I have some anxiety regarding its life span.


David

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

David,


Thank you for the comments and questions.


This is a work in progress, and has worked fairly well.  But, I certainly understand concerns over longevity.  The corrugated sheet works, and it satisfy weight and friction issues.  The price is currently set at about cost plus average shipping, so it is not a money maker by any means.  Rather, just a convenience to our users.


Will send you out some additional clips and the Al strips to add.  This upgrade will do a bit of both, improve wear and make it slide a bit easier.  Since you are using the expander a fair bit, I would be very interested in the level of improvement you find.


I am also looking into fabrication of a very thin aluminum sheet (think flashing) that would attach in the same way.  Would be about as light and slicker, and have a significantly longer life expectancy.  Probably would cost a bit more.  Would this have a better percieved value?


Gary

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

First, I think you got the dimensions of the expander just right, at least for baking shorter-than-traditional baguettes or largish (1.5 lb) boules or more than 2 bâtards on a baking stone in a home oven. (I'm sure you appreciate this extra-long sentence is "in the spirit.")


Especially having experienced the utility of the wider Super Peel, I would be willing to pay more (within reason) for a more durable Expander Kit.


Another thought: At this point, I don't see a reason not to use the Expander Kit all the time, even for a couple little boules. What about making a wider version of the Super Peel? Do you think it would be too heavy?


David


 

bnom's picture
bnom

That's a good list David!


I did want to share a nifty blade holder option I hit upon the other day.  You know those metal nut picks everyone seems to have at the back of their utensil drawer?  It securely holds the proper curve--and it feels more substantial in the hand than a coffee stir stick.  


 

Franko's picture
Franko

Much as I love to have new kitchen tools and gadgets, the best money I've ever spent for kitchen related items is on books. Best bang for your buck by far IMO. Lots of choices in these replies, so have fun deciding.


Franko