Everyone loves to get something in the mail – particularly when that something is a big, tempting package to open and not just another bill. This is why gift subscriptions make fantastic presents: your giftee will get a new surprise every month when the next package arrives. There are some great services out there – both classic and creative – offering monthly subscription services that are tailored for food lovers of all kinds. The prices vary and you can pick out a short or long term subscription. One other bonus is that, since these gifts are delivered over a period of a couple of weeks or months, you don’t need to worry about rushing to stores and last minute gift wrapping, since your gift comes with direct delivery included – although a card letting your recipient know would be a nice touch.
- The Fruit of the Month Club from Harry and David is a class subscription service and still a favorite for many. They send out huge boxes of premium fruit every month, choosing something wonderful and in-season every time. They even offer an organic fruit of the month club now. My favorite, without question, is their famous Royal Riviera Pears, although I always enjoy their fruit. All of these boxes are hand-packed and they guarantee their products, which means that they will replace anything that isn’t quite right so that you really will always end up with perfect fruit..
- Great Food for A Great Cause Boxes from Love with Food contain a selection of up to eight different gourmet food samples each month, ranging from preserves to cookies to tea. There is a lot of variety here and, as with many subscription services, this is a great way to introduce yourself to some new brands and small producers that you might not already be familiar with. For each box shipped, Love with Food will also donate a meal to a hungry child.
I like to think that you can never go wrong with giving someone a book as a gift because there is a book out there for everyone, from comic books to mysteries to histories. I would say that this is especially true of cookbooks, because no matter what you like to make (or eat!) there is a book out there for it – and unlike other books which you may read just once or twice, a cookbook is one that you will come back to again and again. With this list, you should be able to easily find something for the baker in your life, whether they want to get serious about artisan breads or play around with Jell-o. I’ve posted about each of these during the course of the year, too, so you can follow the link at the end of each book to read more about them before you pick one out.
Bouchon Bakery is a beautiful book that would look just as good on your coffee table as in your kitchen. In fact, it will probably look better on the coffee table because there is no risk of covering it with flour or butter, as there is when you are baking your way through the many wonderful recipes in it. The book covers breads, pastries, candies, cookies, muffins and anything else you might like to bake. The recipes range from fairly simple to quite complicated, but the instructions are incredibly detailed by following carefully you can make some truly impressive goodies. (more)
Flour Salt Water Yeast is for bread bakers, or those who want to become bread bakers. The book gives a comprehensive course in everything you need to know about baking artisan-style breads at home.Each chapter is designed to build on the one before it, so that you really build up an extensive knowledge base by working your way through the book. The recipes range from simple while breads to pizza doughs to sourdoughs. (more)
It always helps to get a few more gift ideas as the holidays approach. Inspiration just might help you to pick out that perfect gift for the cook or baker or foodie in your lift – and might even inspire you to add something to your wish list, too.
Kitchen Gifts for Bakers and Cooks
- A stand mixer is and will always be one of the best gifts that you can get the baker in your life for the holidays. KitchenAids are always a top pick, but I don’t know a baker that would turn down a Breville, a Viking or any other brand. If your giftee already has one, you might consider getting accessories for it, like the Whisk a Bowl or a Flex Edge Beater.
- Pies are a big baking trend right now, so pie making tools are great gifts. The Chicago Metallic Individual Pie Pan allows you to easily make single serving pies. The Breville Pie Maker is a great appliance that makes the pie making process even easier, if you bake a lot of them and have a little extra room in your kitchen.
This is the Baking Bites 2008 Holiday Gift Guide for Bakers – about time, too, since there are only a few weeks of shopping left before Christmas and Hanukkah begin! If you like to bake or spend time in the kitchen, you might use these as inspiration for your wish list. And if you have a baker in the family and simply like to munch on some tasty homemade baked goods, it never hurts to butter up the baker with a gift to get him or her into the kitchen and try out a new recipe (I know, because it definitely works on me!).
Kitchen Gear and Accessories
You don’t need fancy equipment to make things happen in the kitchen, but having good equipment that lasts a long time makes things go a lot smoother.
- Good measuring tools are essential. The Adjust-A-Measure set includes adjustable spoons that can be used for any small amount and a measuring cup that works well for both wet and dry ingredients, thanks to the unique way it pushes ingredients out with a plunger (similar to the one Alton Brown uses on Good Eats).
- In the unique equipment department, an Aebleskiver pan is a really fun gift. The light, spherical Danish pancakes are easy to make and a great change of pace from regular pancakes – plus they can easily be filled with jam, fruit or chocolate before serving.
- I almost always recommend a stand mixer as a great gift for a baker who doesn’t have one. They’re very helpful for cutting down on mixing times and make kneading bread dough a lot easier (and less messy). There are plenty of good inexpensive stand mixers, and I would check out the KitchenAid Classic as a solid option under $200 and opt for a heavier duty model if your budget can be stretched. The KitchenAid store is offering free shipping right now, and their outlet has some good deals, too.
There are a few items that bakers need more than other cooks, so these are a few baking-specific ideas.
- Baking pans with silicone handles pretty much eliminate the need for pot holders because the handles never get hot. They’re built right into the pan, minimizing the chance of slippage and providing a solid grip on a hot object. It’s a nice feature if you’re looking for a some new bakeware.
- You can’t go wrong with a good cake cover. It provides plenty of storage space for cakes, muffins, cupcakes and even cookies, as they can be stacked inside. The Wilton Cake Caddy is one of the best I’ve found, with a wide base, roomy top, easy and secure clips for sealing the container, and a handle on top that makes it easy to carry anywhere.
- Vanilla is a key element in sweet baking, so a bottle of good-quality vanilla is a great little gift. Sonoma Syrup Co’s Vanilla Bean Crush has an excellent and is full of specks of real vanilla bean. A jar of vanilla paste – which is thicker than regular extract but can be used the same way – will also have lots of seeds from real vanilla beans and is just as good a choice.