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Baking enthusiasts, Please help with my Xmas gift

Hey, Xmas is coming up, and I want to get some amazing gifts for my wife. She loves baking, but unfortunately has almost zero quality baking supplies. I looked online for baking sets and I saw some things that would be interesting. (Rachael Ray Oven Lovin' Nonstick Bakeware 5-Piece Bakeware Set. Please don't judge, Amazon gave it good reviews?) But the problems is I do not bake, and I have no idea what's good, what works, and what I should avoid.

Any recommendations for baking related supplies and materials? I have about 200USD to spend.
Thanks

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  1. Well, can you tell us what your wife likes to bake? That'll help us help you.

    For general purposes, I would consider getting your wife a scale -- either digital or a traditional one. Because in baking it's always better to measure by weight than by volume ...

    8 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      My wife likes to bake brownies, cookies, the sort. And maybe a cake here and there. Today she made some cinnamon buns which were nice though.

        1. re: lcool

          I will throw scale on the list. Is there a specific model anyone recommends? Or are they all the same?

          1. re: cluelesshusband

            Not all the same.Some are very $$$ and not worth it.I am guessing you are on the other side of the pond,yes?
            OXO ,Soehnle and Salter all have well rated scales that leave plenty of budget.
            features you want,METRIC & US.... DRY WEIGHT and LIQUID, TARE to zero and memory
            I have gifted the Salter 3003 several times,does all of the above for less than 50USD

            1. re: cluelesshusband

              I think this one would be good for your wife. http://www.amazon.com/Escali-Primo-Di...

              Or you can go uber-cool, and get this one, which I really like. http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/p...

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Hah, $329 for a scale.. You have to be kidding me. But it's chrome plated...so tempting. I think I am gunna grab the Salter 3003 though.

                1. re: cluelesshusband

                  I love the oxo with pull out display from Amazon.

            2. Does she have a really nice stainless bowl?or two,is it big enough for her favorite recipes?
              If she already has a stand mixer,a second bowl is nice and useful.

              6 Replies
              1. re: lcool

                At the moment we have one large glass salad bowl she uses to mix things in. And two depreciated flat metal pans that look haggard and old. That is it, Mixing is done by hand on her part. :(

                1. re: cluelesshusband

                  A good cookie sheet sounds like an obvious choice. AirBake's are nice and so is a nice heavy commercial quality sheet pan you get at a restaurant supply for ~$15.

                  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_...
                  Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid looks nice. I have different Jelly Roll pans and they are really nice for things like Cinnamon Rolls. I own several their folded steel bread pans and I am very happy with them.

                  If she likes gadgets, I good hand mixer might a good Christmas gift. Cutlery and More just had a good sale on the Viking hand mixer that tempted me. A Kitchenaide mixer is probably out of your price range but, a 5 quart model that lifts the bowl (versus spins into the base) would work fine for what your wife does. Heavy bread dough will probably break the ones made today but, the two I bought ~30 years ago are still going strong.

                  1. re: cluelesshusband

                    OK here is a starter list
                    SCALE
                    HAND MIXER
                    STAINLESS BOWL/S ? 3 NESTING 4.5qt to 7qt ,think larger than your salad bowl
                    SPATULA/S heat resistant,medium to large size
                    SHEET PAN/S bigger isn't always better and don't skimp on weight/quality

                    1. re: cluelesshusband

                      Half and quarter sheet pans from the restaurant supply (or online), two of each to start. Vollrath is one good brand. Boring but indispensable, multi-purpose and hardworking.

                      A set of nested stainless steel bowls and a good hand held mixer if you are not in stand mixer budget territory.

                      1. re: cluelesshusband

                        Get that girl a 5 qt bowl lift KA, or save the money until you can. It is the number one thing you need if you like to bake. Stirring by hand is fine if you only bake once a year at Christmas... :)

                        1. re: Becca Porter

                          He is in Europe with somewhat different choices that way when the time comes.

                    2. Pans! You can get away without a stand mixer or a scale for quite long time (speaking for myself, of course), but the correct pans (cookie sheets, cake pans, tube pans, and so forth) can't really be faked or compensated for. Doesn't make for much of a glamorous gift, however.

                      Ooops-- just realized I kind of skimmed over after I saw the words "Rachael Ray." You might be on the right track, though.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: monfrancisco

                        Although I will add, when my sweetheart gave me a KitchenAid mixer, I burst into tears of joy and astonished both of us. We've been getting fatter ever since. (Please adjust for hyperbole.)

                      2. I bake ALL the time, and ALWAYS from scratch. I've had some of Rachael's products, and they're ok, but over-priced. I'll tell you the item I have that is indispensible and serves many, many purposes:
                        2 aluminum half-sheet pans from Sam's Club. I've had them for YEARS and use them to roast meats, bake cookies, sheet cakes, etc. They cook evenly and clean up very easily. And they never rust or warp. You can get these for less than $20 for two of them in the restaurant supply section of Sam's Club.

                        Also, this time of year, you can always find Kitchenaid stand mixers on sale for around $200.00. This is the holy grail for people who are bakers.

                        I have a nice set of clear glass mixing bowls that can also be used for serving things and will match anything. I got 4 or 5 of them in different sizes in a boxed set at Kohl's for around $20. They're Food Network Brand.

                        You can buy a Kitchenaid brand handmixer (not the same as the stand mixer but still very nice to have) for around $40-50. Look on Overstock.com. I have a refurbished Kitchenaid Food Processor from there that looks and works like brand new that I got for $50. They only charge $2.95 to ship items and you save LOTS of money.

                        1. Thanks guys. So far i think I am going to be getting this:

                          ..http://i.imgur.com/i5ZfJ.jpg

                          Anything else you think I should add? There is a baking sheet that I forgot to add on the screenshot.

                          Forgot to mention I live in Europe, hence the Amazon EU preferences.

                           
                          11 Replies
                          1. re: cluelesshusband

                            Maybe add half sheet pans, measuring spoons, measuring cups, and a glass Pyrex measuring cup.

                            The measuring cup is great bc it can go in the microwave.

                            A tart pan if you have more to spend

                            1. re: cheesecake17

                              This is going to sound like a silly question.

                              But if I had a digital scale, why would I need a measuring cup?

                              1. re: cluelesshusband

                                Liquid, babycakes, liquid ingredients.

                                  1. re: cluelesshusband

                                    If you take the weight of the vessel into consideration - sure thing. Most scales, actually, have a setting to allow for that. But sometimes it's nice to just pull out the measuring cup for a bit of oil, or water for proofing yeast. Either way, it's good.

                                    1. re: cluelesshusband

                                      A scale is great for dry ingredients, because you never have to take how 'packed down' they are into account. For example, you could have two cups of flour where one weighs 1/2 what the second weighs (the first might be sifted that the second packed down.) Weighing the flour always gives you a precise amount, and generally weight is ideal for dry ingredients. With liquids, most recipes give volume measurements (or fluid ounces), and you don't want to have to figure out, via a density calculation, what weight of oil, shortening, butter, or milk equals x number of cups or fluid ounces. Dropping a few dollars of measuring cups will save you so much trouble!

                                      Regarding the scale, I highly recommend the OXO (the eleven pound version). It's a great all-around scale that is accurate, has all necessary features (zero function, grams/ounces, am extendable face-plate, etc) and holds up well.

                                      Also, someone below recommended a vintage mixing bowl. If you wife is the type to appreciate items with a history, I'd recommend looking around some vintage stores. You might find some fantastic bowls or other useful items that have a history, aesthetic, and usefulness that would be appreciated more than its modern equivalent.

                                  2. re: cluelesshusband

                                    Measure oil, honey, milk or other liquids.
                                    If you have a microwave, use the glass measuring cup to melt butter. Pours easily into the batter.

                                    1. re: cluelesshusband

                                      A heat resistant measuring cup is always useful.You can find them almost anywhere.My guess is she has one already for the baking she is currently doing.

                                      YES the scale I suggested will do liquids,with more ACCURACY than 90% of the devices avaialable and humans using them.

                                  3. re: cluelesshusband

                                    cheesecake17 beat me to the punch with all those suggestions, but i'll add these thoughts as well:
                                    - either swap the 6-cup muffin tin for a 12-cup, or get her two of the 6-cup tins (6 muffins is really only half of a standard batch of muffins)
                                    - see if you can find an angled frosting spatula with a plastic or rubber handle instead of the palette knife (it will be more comfortable to hold & manipulate)
                                    - get her a springform pan if she likes to bake cheesecakes & tortes

                                    you're a really thoughtful and generous husband. i'm sure she's going to love her gift(s)!

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      I'd get a 6 cup muffin tin and two 12 co mini muffin tins. That'll get you one standard batch of muffins. It's also was to halve recipes- 6 reg muffins or 12 minis or a combination

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I actually updated the quantity of the 6cup cupcake min to two. They didn't make a 12 cupcake size that was in stock. So it will have to do.

                                        I will definitely look into the spatula item.

                                        Thanks for your input!