When fall and winter roll around, I start thinking about rich, comforting casseroles, which means that these stoneware baking dishes get pulled out, filled, and popped into the oven at least once a week. They're great-looking on the table and provide gentle, even cooking all around for really nice, crisp edges on your lasagna.
For the baker who has it all, embossed rolling pins can make even the most traditional shortbread seem exciting again. I love this large, open paisley pattern so much, I used it for the cookies on the cover of my book! Its design works well with many styles of dough, so it's a great starting point before you experiment with pins that have a more intricate pattern.
I can't fathom decorating a birthday cake without this sturdy, heavy-bottomed stand. It speeds the process of crumb coating and decoration, while allowing for a whole new array of finishing techniques. It can also double as a lazy susan, so it's often on my dinner table, piled with condiments and toppings, even when there's no cake in sight.
The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when you're roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or carrying out any other task where precise temperature control is needed. It's got a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds—you won't find a better, easier-to-use thermometer out there.
With their smooth surface and cool temperature, marble pastry slabs are a baker's best friend. They're great for rolling out pie crusts, laminating doughs, and tempering chocolate—plus, this one's pretty enough (albeit heavy) to use as a serving platter.
A good bench scraper is one of those tools people don't think they need until they start using it. I use it for everything from transferring chopped vegetables or herbs from one place to another, to portioning dough, to giving my cutting board a quick clean. Next to my chef's knife, the bench scraper is the tool you'll see in my hand most often.
This epic set of stainless steel pastry tips is perfect for the home baker with professional-grade aspirations...or the food-enthused, arts-and-craftsy kid in your life (or, you know, your heart). With this kit in hand, nothing but practice stands between you and gorgeous piped flowers, leaves, stars, and beyond.
What's a quarter sheet pan? Well, it's half the size of a half sheet pan. What's a half sheet? It's the rimmed baking sheet we all use at home for cookies and such. (If you're wondering what a whole sheet pan is, you'll find them in restaurant kitchens.) So why would anyone want a quarter sheet pan? Oh, man, because they're amazing. I love them for all kinds of recipe tasks, like holding small amounts of ingredients I'm prepping or roasting. I reach for them just as often as I do the half-sheet size, because sometimes you need the SUV, and sometimes you need the compact. Simple as that.
It's almost impossible to find good-quality Dutch cocoa in supermarkets, so make it easy for your favorite baker to whip up the best possible chocolate treats. This cocoa powder is unusually dark, with an earthy chocolate flavor for out-of-control brownies, devil's food cake, and ice cream.
When I tested bread knives earlier this year, I was absolutely blown away by the cutting quality of Tojiro's bread knife. It surpassed every other serrated knife I tested, cutting beautifully clean slices of even the most tender bread, and making quick, neat work of ripe tomatoes. It's a must-have as far as I'm concerned.
Homemade ice cream tastes better than almost anything you can buy in a store, and it's a snap to make. This ice cream maker, from Cuisinart, is all the gear you need: an easy-to-use workhorse that makes delicious ice cream every time. The simple construction means that there are few moving parts to break, and the wide mouth at the top makes it easy to add mix-ins and scoop out your ice cream when it's at its fresh, creamy best.
I never realized how incomplete my kitchen was until I added a stand mixer to my appliance lineup. It's obviously great for mixing batters and doughs, but I especially love the range of KitchenAid attachments available for purchase—once you have the base, there's suddenly a whole world of homemade sausages, ice cream, pastas, and fresh juices at your fingertips.
A good digital scale is an essential tool for bakers or home charcuterie makers. The OXO Food Scale comes with an easy-to-clean, removable stainless steel weighing surface; great accuracy and precision; and a backlit pull-out display to make measuring easy, even for large or unwieldy items.
Whether you're baking cakes from scratch or from a mix, giving the batter more room to grow will minimize doming, for thicker, more level layers. Light, reflective metal also minimizes browning to keep the cake crust delicate and pale. Because the pans are nonreactive, they can also be used with poke cakes that involve acidic liquids, like lemon juice.