Is it just me, or does gift-giving season always sneak up on you too? Are you stumped for gift ideas for the bread baker in your life, or are your people hounding you for your own wish list? Here are a few off-the-beaten-path items that bakers might not know about or buy for themselves.
I would love it if you would leave your own unusual, beautiful, or fun gift ideas in the comments.
|A hake brush. This Japanese silky-soft, goat-hair artist’s brush is the best thing I’ve found for egg-washing delicate pastries, brushing excess flour from loaves before baking, or any job that requires a gentle touch. I like the one-inch size but wider brushes are also available. Order online or check your local art supply store. Under $10.|
|A Gambela basket. These traditional canoe-shaped Ethiopian bread baskets are woven of naturally-dyed grasses. Lay a piece of linen inside and it doubles as a proofing basket. My sister brought me mine from Ethiopia, but if you can’t get there before the holidays, the baskets are available from several online sites such as Ananse Village, a member of the Fair Trade Federation. About $20.|
|A painting or note cards from Will Paint for Food. Painter Shawn Kenney donates a portion of sales of his lovely food art to hunger-fighting organizations. Subjects are not limited to baked goods, so think about Shawn’s art for any food lover on your list. Cards are $20 for a set; contact Shawn for painting prices and availability.|
|A Super Peel. This ingenious tool makes transferring bread or pizza onto the baking stone a snap. It’s also great for transporting rolled-out pie crust or any other fragile or otherwise difficult-to-move dough and baked goods. What’s more, this is a small, friendly, family business that you can feel good about supporting. $32.|
|An antique dough trencher. These rustic oblong wooden bowls that were once used to raise dough make a lovely addition to any room. They can hold rolls, fruit, ornaments, or anything else. If you don’t have an antique shop near you, here’s an eBay search to get you started. Prices range from under $30 to over $100.|
|Cresci: The Art of Leavened Dough by Iginio Massari and Achille Zoia. The English translation of this Italian book is out of print, so it will cost you, but you’ll not find a more breathtaking collection of breads anywhere. The recipes, which lean heavily towards the sweet end of the spectrum, are not for beginners, but any baker will find inspiration in this lavish coffee-table-quality book. Definitely a splurge at about $200.|
|Yakitate!! Japan DVDs. If your favorite baker is an anime fan, he or she will get a kick out of the exploits of Azuma Kazuma, the 16-year-old boy-wonder-baker on a quest to create the quintessential “Ja-pan,” a bread Japan can call its own. The English-subtitled series also has annotations explaining the numerous Japanese puns that make it even more fun. Sample an episode or two of Yakitate!! Japan on YouTube. About $20 per set.|