When you live with a professional cake decorator, especially one with a penchant for collecting the gadgets of her trade like mine, you spend 12 months a year compiling a mental list of what you can buy later. Because let's face it, when I'm in Sur La Table with Reva holding a new shiny she must have with those wide childlike eyes staring up at me (I'm like 2" taller), more often than not the business card comes out and our cookie cutter collection hits 4 digits.
But there are those great little baking gifts and ideas I file away and this year, I wish to share them with all of you in our first ever Holiday Gift Guide Spectacular!!!!
Wilton Pastry Tips. They don't have to be Wilton, but chances are that's the brand you'll find;) Available at Michael's, Sur La Table, even Wal Mart, you can load up a stocking full of tips for under $20 and it doesn't matter if you buy one they already have because you can always use more!! Pastry bags and couplers make a great companion;)
Disco Dust! It's all the rage these days and there's a wide variety of colors out there to brighten up your decorator's designs. At $4 to $5 a pop, few of us ever have as many as we want. Sneak a peak in the drawer and pick up some new colors for a guaranteed smile come the 25th. Also see luster dust and pedal dust.
Fondant Sculpting Tools. Ateco is a leading baking supply company and I just had to include this deal on their 9 piece fondant sculpting set now at Williams Sonoma for a ridiculously low $6!! There's more rugged models out there, but for the price, even if they already have a set, these are great to add to your delivery kit or keep at home. It appears to be internet only, so order soon!
Offset Spatulas. Spatulas in general are always helpful in the kitchen, but Reva is always reaching for her small offsets whether working on big cakes, cupcakes, cookies, really anything. They are the kind of tool that will always be welcome in the kit and they come in handy for our next section...
Tis Cookie Season!
Ninjabread Men. Hi-ya!! Everyone is kung fu baking with this sugar kicking set of cutters from Fred & Friends, the coolest kitchen accessory company in the world! Their products can be found everywhere these days, but our favorite are these aggressive little cookie men;)
Hand Carved Cookie Molds. Also known as "stamps," it's rare to find a large selection of these old world cookie molds outside of the internet, but the variety and beauty of this craft is undeniable. Used on everything from gingerbread cookies to shortbread, there is a mold for everyone. The site I've linked here is the best I've seen. Each one handcrafted so they're moderately pricey, but think of the new tradition you could start by buying a new one each year! And we've used ours a lot, they make wonderful cookies.
The Fashionable Chef!
Johnny Cupcakes. If you follow us on Facebook, you know our complete devotion to t-shirt guru Johnny Cupcakes. His line of shirts, hats, etc. is all over our closet. Whether you go for the classic cupcake and crossbones logo or one of his limited edition shirts, a JC shirt is what every cool baker should be wearing. Note: If you're near Los Angeles, Boston, or London, Johnny has retails stores in those cities.
Merci Beaucoup Shirts! Hey, I'm writing the blog, I get to pick the gifts;) Limited edition holiday shirts available now and you can even put them in one of our super cool tote bags. A cake spouse has to try!
Super Cute Oven Mitts. Every cupcake challenge on TV shows off fancy aprons, isn't it time to glamor up your mitts?!! The queen of cute aprons, Jessie Steele, also offers up a wide range of designer oven mitts in various styles to satisfy every baker. And, at $10 and under, pick up a pair, you know, for each hand;)
Fat Daddios. Cake pans, you can never have enough of them, nor will you ever have enough storage to keep them neat!! There's lots of great brands out there, but recently Sur La Table started selling the Fat Daddios line and it is a quality pan that will stand up to heavy use for even the most rugged bakery. They have a ton of sizes including extra deep pans and all at a very reasonable price for the quality.
Wilton Gingerbread House Mold Pan. We love gingerbread everything here at Merci Beaucoup, especially houses and this new dual sided pan from Wilton is a great solution if you need to turn out some homes in a hurry. Just the roof alone makes the $25 price tag worth it! You also get some candy canes, gingerbread men, a tree, and a North Pole sign. Another great idea from Wilton.
Silicone Mats. The Silpat revolutionized baking and while most of us still use parchment for so many uses, no kitchen is complete without some quality silicone mats laying around. Our friends over at Caljava recently came out with the biggest fondant mat we've ever seen! At 30' x 30", this is the mat to use when rolling out fondant for your bottom tiers. Oven safe, it can also be used for poured sugar and chocolate. At $75, this is one of the bigger presents you can put under the tree, but a guaranteed grand slam of a gift.
Stump de Noel Bundt Cake Pan. Okay, I admit it. This is on the list because I want one, but seriously, who needs a tired old yule log when you can have a Bundt Stump!!! Gather round the stump children, it's time for dessert!
The Debbie Brown Library. Besides being an awesome cake decorator and an awesome person, Debbie has written numerous books that will open your eyes to multiple techniques. Vivid, creative designs run through each volume and cover subjects such as cartoons and popular characters, weddings, children's cakes, naughty designs, and her newest, Baby Cakes. Reva cites Debbie as one of her biggest inspirations and I know your decorator will love flipping through any of these great books. $20 and under, these books can be found online or in most bookstores.
American Cake Decorating Magazine. While some say print media is dead, in the cake world the presence of inspiration via magazine remains a big part our industry. From brides to bakers, we all love to look at magazines and learn something new or take a mental note on a fabulous design. ACD boils down our obsession to just cake and comes full of great tips and tutorials all year long. $28 for a year's subscription, $50 for two, and worth every penny as the gift that keeps on giving;)
MyCakeSchool.com. If you're eyes grow tired of all that reading, how about an online membership to cake school! My Cake School is a terrific site with great videos covering a wide variety of subject. There is literally something for decorators of all skill levels. Over a 100 videos, recipes and a forum will keep our baker happy all year long. At $30 annually, this is probably the most bang for your buck on the entire list!! When I asked Reva what we should put on this guide, My Cake School was the first thing she mentioned.
Gel Pro Chef Mats. Nothing can destroy a cake design quicker than tired feet. If the dogs are barking, the piping gets sloppy! Okay, not my best slogan idea, but you get the point. They come in a couple different sizes and numerous colors and patterns, but be prepared to crack that wallet. They run $150 to $300, but trust me, the impact on your fatigue level is dramatic. You can work longer and happier and really, what's the price tag on that kind of baking bliss?
Sound System. Long days in the bakery go by quicker with some tunes to drown out the mixer. While we all know the Bose, with buttercream and disco dust flying about, you'll probably want something a little more affordable for the kitchen;) There's lots of great option from $80 to $200 like the Klipsch model I linked here. Do some research, make sure the speakers sound full and by all means, load up the iPod with some new music for your decorator on Christmas morn!
Ledson Wine. If you're so inclined, the Ledson Winery produces some of our absolute favorite wine anywhere. We didn't even really drink wine until we were exposed to their label (thanks for the expensive habit Uncle Earl!). Not available in stores, you either have to pick it up at their gorgeous tasting room in Kenwood, CA or order it online through them and trust us, it is worth it. If you don't trust us, send us a bottle and we'll review it for you;) Pricey, but phenomenal, Ledson's entire line is delicious. Try their "Sweet Ida May" dessert port with some chocolate and you're sweet tooth will never be the same! What better way to relax after a long day of baking?!!
Well, that's a pretty full list and trust me, I haven't even scratched the surface yet! You could drop a couple hundred on fondant alone not to mention the seemingly billions of kitchen gadgets out there for cake decorators! Hopefully we've helped you think of some ideas for your gift list this year but no matter what, never forget the best part about the holidays and baking.... eating the finished product!!
Happy Holidays from The Cake Spouse, a.k.a. Mic