If there is a home-baked baker in your close circle of loved ones who are passionate about his or her craft and love making delicious homemade bread, there are multiple reasons and opportunities to pamper them.
Whether it’s Christmas, birthday, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or just wanting to say “I love you” in the middle of the day, are all great reasons to spoil your loved one or close friend with a gift for one of their hobbies.
Buying a gift for someone’s hobby is always a win. Think about it for a second, its the thing they are most passionate about and love doing most on their downtime.
As far as the budget is concerned, you will find a wide choice selection for any budget. Overall, baking is not an expensive hobby so here’s a reason for you to smile 🙂
As I said everyone has a different budget and a different way of going about it, so I put together the dream kit for the home baker.
For your convenience, I divided the list into sections in order to suit your budget or your friends’ baking needs: The must-haves, the nice to have, and the ultimate luxury items. Only you will decide what is the right balance.
Note: Some of the items on my list appear on my recommended product page where you can find the best recommendations on the best items in the market for that product. If you find something on this list you like, you’re welcome to jump to the recommended page.
These are the items that without them it is impossible to function in the kitchen if your goal is to make excellent homemade bread. Each of these items will significantly upgrade your baking ability.
A Kitchen Scale
In many posts I have written on the site, I have talked about baking bread as an exact science. Unlike cooking, in bread recipes, you will not find “a pinch of this, a pinch from that.” All the measurements should be accurate to the gram, so one of the most important tools in the kitchen is a reliable scale. A scale that’s accurate and true, quality made and can weigh relatively large quantities of mass if you want to prepare a bunch of loaves and have a bigger dough. (you have already made a mess in your kitchen at least have enough dough to show for it 🙂 It is true that you can use measuring cups but if you want to take your baking to the next level, you should start using a scale. You will find that you will get a more consistent product every time if you scale your ingredients. This also helps when you want to increase or decrease your yield. For my top pick for a kitchen scale, click here.
A Dutch Oven
Anyone who baked bread in a dutch oven, even the novice bakers among us, would certainly testify to the relative ease of baking bread in this method. It is the optimal way to reach professional-like results: Your loaves will bake evenly with a nice thick crispy crust, a fully developed bread with an even bake, this at the end of the day is what we strive for.
There are many advantages to baking in a dutch oven. The biggest advantage is the whole issue of steam which can be a bit tricky to get enough steam actually needed in your home oven. Baking bread in a closed pot is a much better way to do so and imitates conditions of a commercial bread oven in a bakery. You can read here about different Dutch Ovens for any budget.
A Baking Stone
Baking bread on a stone surface will generate high heat spread evenly for a perfect bake. This will be a huge plus during the baking process as you would like to get an even bake/ browning on your loaf. The stone surface will reduce the number of times you need to move or move the bread around. As it happens most ovens, especially home ovens are not evenly heated. They have cold and hot spots that affect food cooking or baking inside. If handled properly baking stones can last for many years.
Scoring the bread with a knife allows the bread to expand prevent it from riping during baking. It is what helps to vent out all the steam produced inside the bread while baking.
An incorrect cut can rip the bread apart and then it is very difficult to get it back to the way it was before.
Using a specialized cutting knife, with a sharp blade is a crucial tool for the home and professional baker and it is a must-have.
Check out this beautiful bread lame. It really makes for a nice and very useful gift at a cheap price.
Bakers Oven Gloves
Baking is a wonderful hobby, it encourages qualities like patience, creativity, perseverance but is not without risks. Working with hot ovens that can reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit or more can cause, if not careful, nasty burns. This is an unpleasant experience, to say the least, and the right heat resistance gloves can make all the difference. A person who bakes in a Dutch oven is even more exposed to the risk of getting burned due to the large surface area of a Dutch Oven.
The market offers plenty of different types of gloves. It is important to get high heat resistant gloves.
Do not cheap out on this item and make sure to get something on the higher price range The higher-priced gloves will usually mean better protection with better materials. So don’t buy gloves that seem cute, buy ones that come across as “protection” and “safety”
Here are a few options I found on Amazon
- Gloves that have good protection at a good price
- The overprotective gloves ( these are actually furnace gloves. A bit of an overkill but I still think they look cool 🙂
- The Holiday gloves – These are more for the holiday spirit and less for long term use. You will find better protective options on the market though they do make a nice gift for the holiday.
A Baking Journal
Baking Journal is probably the most personal item that a home baker has in his kitchen.
True, we are in an era when all the recipes are online just a keyboard type away, but the baking journal is our private place to keep and store all the treasures we collect in our journey of baking quality, tasty bread.
Its the place to collect all the recipes we liked the most, the right temperatures and measurements to use, the trial and error processes that we are undergoing and even a list of bakeries or cafes we want to visit and more. They all got a room in our baking journal.
Definitely a must-have. Invest in a nice notebook with a good thick cover, even a nice leather one if you can afford it. Just make sure it will be something that will last and not some cheap notebook that the pages will start to curl up and rip over time.
The Nice To Have
So far I’ve listed what I see as having to be on the “must-have” equipment for any the home baker.
From here on I will move on to the “nice to have” list that will consist of items that can upgrade baking, ease his or her life, shorten baking processes and generally make him or her on the receiving end very happy. You can combine some of the details together or choose one gift – either way, if it’s on the list – he or she will be super happy to get it!
Proofing basket can be a very effective tool in the bread baking process. Its supports the dough while it’s rising and contributes to that artisan look you want, giving it beautiful shape and pattern. I will be honest: you can make good and tasty bread without a proofing basket by using a mixing bowl or any kind of vassal BUT it is a tool that can upgrade the texture of your bread greatly: both inside the mass and outside. The idea is to let the dough surface dry a little as it rises, the basket should be made of a material that absorbs moisture and releases it helping in a slow rise. The prooving basket holds the shape and makes the outside of the dough less sticky, therefore easy to score which helps the bread to vent out all the gases properly without it exploding where you don’t want it to. For my favorite proofing basket check out this post.
I have a complete article on bread bursting or splitting in the wrong places. You can read it here.
Proofing is the final stage where you let your bread rise for the last time before baking your bread. Many home bakers struggle with this final stage as it is difficult to maintain a consistent environment.
Having a proofing box will help achieve consistent and professional results. While not the cheapest of presents it is very useful and you will definitely score extra points with your loved ones 🙂 .
The proofing box maintains a steady temperature and humidity level during proofing helping the bread rise to its full potential. In addition to heat and humidity the box protects the loaf from drafts thus creating the perfect environment for the final proof.
The heat activates the yeast while the humidity keeps the crust from forming and allowing the dough to stretch out more easily.
The proofing box I personally use at home is the Brod and Taylor proofing box. The best thing about this proofing box is that it folds up and can be tucked away in your cupboard. I have written a short review of this proofing box. You can check it out here
or if you like you can check out the latest price on Amazon right here.
Dough & Oven Thermometers
Temperature is a key component in the bread baking process. It comes to play in the fermentation process, which requires our dough to be at the exact right and accurate temperature, and again when the dough is in the oven and you want it baking at the correct temperature.
As much as we want to control every little detail, truth is, some things are out of our hands,.. like weather that affects the temperature of our dough or an oven whose thermostat is inaccurate.
This is where the dough and oven thermometers come into play, and trust me when I say these tools can really help you out.
For more info on the great value the dough and oven thermometers can add to your bread baking, just hop into this really important post I wrote about it right here.
Baking Pan With a Lid
Baking bread in a pan is highly recommended especially for those who are making bread that can be sliced evenly for sandwiches for his or her kids or for themselves.
There are quite a few types of bread baking molds in the market, made of various materials: aluminum, ceramic or cast iron. I personally prefer the ceramic or cast iron that maintains the heat of the oven while hugging the loaf.
An iron mold would radiate heat better and brown bread on all sides, making it cook evenly from all directions. The pans with lids will help give the bread get a crispy crust.
This makes a nice gift as it is very functional and will be used regularly. They usually last forever as well.
Here are some great choices for that gift:
Clay bread pan with lid – Country style look and feel. Looks great in the kitchen 🙂
Emil bread pan with lid – French made. Very beautiful and functional for rectangular loaves rather than round loaves.
Round Emile Cloche – Same French maker as the Emile pan above but this one is round and therefore used for those who make round loaves. Especially good for sourdough bread.
This time focusing on bread knife for cutting the bread after it has already emerged from the oven hot and crispy and has by now cooled down.
The right knife for cutting bread is a one with a long serrated blade.
These knives act like a saw which is what you need for carefully cutting bread.
A proper and sharp bread knife makes all the difference in the world when slicing bread. It is the difference between having a perfect slice to having to smoosh down your loaf just to be able to cut it. A good Knife will do all the work for you.
FYI the knife is versatile and good for other foods besides bread-like cakes, salami, melons and much more. So if you or your baking friend does not have a good bread knife it will make the perfect and useful gift.
For the ultimate breadknife gift, you can’t beat this beautifully crafted knife made in Japan where they take knife making seriously. This is besides the fact that it is a work of art.
A small but necessary tool. This tool is a stainless steel rectangular shape with a straight-edged. It usually comes with a wood or plastic handle and fills a number of important functions during the preparation stage of bread baking:
- Helps to pick up the dough or scrape it if you will from the countertop. Especially when starting to knead
- Can help in shaping the loaf by dragging your dough with this scraper on the countertop tucking the dough into itself getting a tighter outside skin
- Helps to pick up the dough to place it on a cloth or a bread basket to proof / prove
- It’s the number 1 tool to clean the countertop after you are done making your bread.
A bench Knife or Metal Scraper is a must tool in every baker’s arsenal. Here is the one I have been using for many years
This tool does about the same work as the bench knife (scraping the dough from the countertop, cutting the dough into small crumbs, etc.) but with slight changes. Because it is made of flexible plastic it is more versatile in its uses.
It is excellent for scraping dough from bowls and proofing baskets as plastic scrapers usually have an oval edge to them rather than the perfectly flat Bench knife
These scrapers tend to wear out quickly so I would recommend getting a pack of them. They are really cheap so it’s not a big splurge or anything. Try to grab about 3-5 of them at a time.
Full Cotton Fabrics
Fabrics are an important part of the tools in an arsenal available to us as bakers.
They serve a couple of purposes in the proofing or rising stages of the dough.
- Prevents bread from drying out when proofing – These need to be kept slightly moist.
- Proofing bread on a flat surface. The cloths can be bunched up and have multiple loafs proof at a time supporting each other.
- it helps it keep the dough shape, especially when using soft doughs like Focaccia bread.
- Clothes are used to cover doughs while in a bowl proofing
- The cloth can be used to line proofing baskets as well for easy extraction after the dough has fully proofed.
make sure to get natural cotton fabric, linen or canvas fabrics, full cotton kitchen towels will do or even traditionally baby diapers.
You can buy fabrics and cut them to different sizes or use cotton pillow covers. Whatever you do, this is your chance to do it yourself and be personal – maybe print a personal dedication on the canvas? Just a suggestion…
One of the common mistakes that home bakers make is removing hot bread from the oven and placing it on a solid surface to cool down.
There is no greater mistake than that since bread placed on a solid surface.
The bread will give off heat that has lots of moisture in it. If bread is placed on a solid surface with no airflow the crust becomes damp and softens. If bread is not cooled properly it can have an effect on the texture as well.
Bread should be cooled in a well-ventilated area with air circulation and a cooling rack is the most suitable means for that purpose.
Yes, you can use the oven’s rack and find something in your kitchen to prop it up on something from like books or some tins but you will find that the size of the cooling rack is sometimes too large for your counter or just takes up too much space.
Allowing the bread to get rid of the excess fluids is key so please do yourself or your loved one a favor and get a cooling rack.
Sourdough Starter Jars
The sourdough starter is an active mixture of flour and water that is fermented overtime producing natural or wild yeast. The sourdough starter is used mainly in the preparation of sour bread that is characterized by their slightly sour taste and a soft slightly chewy texture and of course a crust from heaven. ( yes I love sourdough bread )
Sourdough bread is very healthy so as part of encouraging your loved one to get on board with the health trend, buying him or her a couple of jars for making a starter can be an accurate hint about what exactly you want him or her to make for you:)
what is needed?
Two identical jars. They can be transparent, made of glass, plastic or stainless steel.
The jars should come with a lid and the size can vary but you should get one that is about 1 Liter or about 34 oz. I would say this is the smallest you should get.
Measuring Cups and Spoon
I am not a fan of measuring cups and spoons, and I have often written posts on this site that emphasize the importance of accuracy in baking and weighing ingredients to the gram with a scale. So I don’t actually use them for scale.
You should have measuring cups and spoons as they help to transfer increasing from their packaging to the measuring vessel. for example filling out your bowl on the scale with a measuring cup helps control the amount of flour your putting in and not making big mistakes like having a whole bag of flour spill or adding to much salt because you didn’t use a measuring spoon and could not control the flow of salt into your bowl that already had some other ingredients in there. Many recipes or cookbooks, mainly in the United States, their measurements appear according to measuring cups or spoons, so you should have the necessary means to prepare the recipe.
This is a fairly cheap item that you can find anywhere. I suggest getting Stainless steel cups and spoons as they will last forever. For liquid measuring cups get clear plastic ones.
Bread Baking Books
There is nothing like a bread-baking book to get inspired, to learn new theories and techniques and to be exposed to new recipes.
We have an article written on the top bread books. You can check it out here in this link
Which books are recommended and are worth the investment?
We will have an article for this coming soon so make sure to check back.
As the title suggests these are luxury items that are usually higher priced and not necessary but can either aid in producing a better quality product or give some physical assistance like a mixer for example.
Grain Milling Machine
In real estate, the famous saying is ” location, location, location”. In baking, it goes more towards fresh ingredients.
When you talk about fresh ingredients in this sense, there is nothing like freshly milled flour. Most of the commercial flours on the market have undergone chemical processes to preserve their long shelf life.
In health and nature stores, freshly milled flour can be found but the prices can be quite expensive for the home baker. The solution, in this case, is a home flour mill machine. Most of the home flour mills machines do excellent, professional work in terms of the product you end up getting.
How much will it cost you? cost and prices vary depending on how much you want to invest, there are very cheap machines, under 100$ and some more massive ones that can reach several hundred dollars. Whatever you end up choosing, in no time, you will get fresh, healthy flour right in your own kitchen: one that contains all parts of the seed – the nutrients and fiber, the protein and vitamins -all that good unprocessed stuff.
This is really a luxury item for that baker who is hardcore into their craft. Note: this is not for the novice baker as using freshly milled flour needs some more expert knowledge and experience when working with your own ground flour.
If you are in the market for getting a flour milling machine this is the best choice in my opinion.
The golden rule is to knead the dough with your hands because there is nothing like touching the mass, feel the dough and let it form, However sometimes despite all kinds of limitations, as in lack of time or patience, injury or whatnot, the mixer can be a good substitute and do the kneading for us.
It is important to use a strong, durable mixer designed to perform under stress since the engine can burn if the dough is too stiff and the mixer is too small. Not all mixers are created equal.
Your mixer should come with at least 3 attachments
- dough hook
The bottom line: the most important things in the mixer are :
- A solid structure: see that the mixer sits well and does not dance all over your counter
- Solid parts: Less plastic the better. Look for hard metals like steel. A good stainless steel bowl is a must. When going out to buy a mixer check the thickness of the bowl and compare it to others on display, you will notice the difference in quality right away.
- High-quality materials for the engine: This will be harder to check with an eye test alone so you might have to geek out a bit here and check the specification pages of the products and look for motors with higher power and high torque.
This is the mixer I used to use at the bakery for coming up with new recipes. Stong, solid and will take a beating. Bread doughs are usually harder on mixers. Read my full review here
The fantasy of every home baker is access to the best oven for baking bread: a firewood oven. Since such a stove remains a fantasy for most of us (unless you have a back yard and a real passion for the wood ovens) most of us will bake with a standard home oven.
There are so many options for a home oven these days, an electric oven or a gas stove
(you can read here which one is better for bread baking) with one or two doors and many other features that can upgrade any basic oven to the championship league.
Choosing the right oven is critical as most ovens have hot spots and cold spots. A good thermostat is important to have on an oven.
As money goes, This is by far a big expense, so it is advisable to conduct a comprehensive talk with your baking loved one: what are his or her needs, how many times a week is he or she bakes, what are his needs besides baking? There are many things to consider… so find out exactly what it is you or your loved one needs and do lots of research.
Home bakers can manage with very little in the kitchen and still make great bread, but every item on this list will help you or your home baker loved one. It will upgrade the bread that comes out of his or her oven, make their life easier, and especially it will make them extremely happy.
So there you go, get any combo you want out of this list and make someone happy.