Buying gifts for the pastry fanatic you know isn't particularly hard: As with any purchase for a cook of any kind, you'll want to consider utility and necessity first, after which you can turn to the demands of whimsy and fun. If you know someone who's just starting out on their baking adventures, spring for some basic items that they might not know they need—sure, they may own cake pans, but do they have the super-deep anodized aluminum ones that Stella recommends to promote tall, pale, fluffy layers and prevent doming? Even a nice rimmed baking sheet can be a very thoughtful gift, if it's one that your budding baker doesn't own yet. If your giftee is an old hand at pastry, try something like a high-quality vanilla extract in a pretty bottle, or maybe a Serious Eats apron—whimsical, fun, and necessary.
We've got way more than a baker's dozen of gift suggestions for you, but here, we'll take the opportunity to highlight some of our favorites.
BraveTart, the Book!
One of the many advantages of giving Stella's cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, as a gift is that it's easy to tell if the intended recipient has it or not. If they do, you'll probably already have seen on Instagram their uncannily accurate homemade Nutter Butters and their DIY "Twinkies" filled with tres leches. Or they'll have shown up at some gathering with Stella's frankly insane "Pig Newtons" (yeah, that's Fig Newtons with bacon fat in the dough and bacon bits in the filling). Or they'll have surprised you with an erudite explanation of how Oreos got their name. Filled with fascinating histories that honor the American tradition of dessert-making, along with tons of irresistible recipes you won't find on Serious Eats, BraveTart is the book of the year for us, and it will be for whomever you give it to as well.
An Embossed Rolling Pin
A good gift for the jaded baker, the baker who's seen it all, the baker who has passed the point of competency and hit the slough of creative despond, this lovely embossed rolling pin is just the thing to perk up their pastry routine. With a little practice, they'll be happily using it to decorate an extra-special shortbread dough or any other rolled cookies they fancy. We'd also note that if they want maximum verisimilitude in Stella's homemade Oreos, the paisley pattern on this pin will lend the cookies the right touch.
Becoming acquainted with the superior freshness, flavor, and texture of wild pecans will make any avid baker wonder why they ever bothered with the withered versions that exist on most supermarket shelves. It also might inspire them to hunt down a certain super-secret pecan pie recipe that Stella cut from BraveTart—because it was too difficult and too damn delicious for the public to handle. Ask her about it!
A Good Food Processor
Food processors are incredibly useful for cooks generally speaking, but for bakers especially, they can be absolute necessities—some techniques, like the one Stella uses to create highly stable fruit-flavored whipped cream, won't work without one. While our review of food processors identified a few of the best machines on the market, our overall favorite was this 14-cup Magimix. That may not be a familiar brand name to many people, but it's got a mighty fine pedigree—it's the prosumer line from Robot Coupe, which makes the restaurant-industry standard in food processors.
A Stand Mixer
This one is a no-brainer. You can make cakes and cookies and other delicious sweet treats without a stand mixer, but you'd need pretty buff arms and a whole lot of patience to make most of those recipes work. Just the act of giving a generous gift like a stand mixer means you're going all out, and the recipient can't help but appreciate it—it's like presenting someone with a flashy car. But choose wisely, because there are lemons out there. We recommend this KitchenAid Professional Series model because it has metal gears, which are sturdy enough to last a long, long time.
A Pretty Cake Stand
Speaking of things that aren't entirely necessary, but are nevertheless very useful, consider giving your baker friend or family member a nice-looking cake stand on which to display their latest creation. For a novice, this revolving stand might be the more practical choice—it'll be a huge help when they're learning how to crumb-coat. Either way, giving a cake stand is a safe-ish bet that you'll be treated to a homemade cake in the near-ish future.
Large Piping Tips
While piping tips are often considered exclusive to pastry projects, these tips are large enough to be put to a variety of non-baking uses, like filling up deviled eggs and packing buttery baked potato flesh back into its jacket. Of course, your giftee will find plenty of dessert-related purposes for these, too: dispensing whipped cream, piping cupcake frosting, portioning out chocolate mousse, you name it.
A Cast Iron Combo Cooker
This piece of equipment is for the committed bread baker, someone who packs sourdough starter in their carry-on before plane trips or unveils beautiful boules at the office while not-so-surreptitiously picking away at specks of dried dough on their sweater. Thanks to the superlative heat-retention powers of cast iron, this cooker gets extremely hot and stays that way. Meanwhile, the tight-fitting lid creates a little sauna for the bread, trapping in steam to help produce a crackly crust that once seemed possible only in the professional bakeries of la France.
But Wait, There's More!
We're not done. You can find plenty more gift ideas for baking enthusiasts right this way »