HOLIDAY GIFT LIST
One question I am continually asked is – what are your favorite tools? As a pastry chef for 25 years, I find the same tools indispensable, albeit the list has grown a bit over the years. And I thought – this would be a great holiday gift list. Especially if you’re shopping for aspiring pastry chefs, no matter what age!
This list is not made in priority order, although there is one item that has always been my number one tool – a small offset spatula. No tool can duplicate the uses of this tool, especially when making tarts and cakes. I always have several on hand, so I’m never lost without one.
My other favorite tools –
A boxwood rolling pin, French-style (no handles)
This will last throughout several generations (as long as you never try to wash it with soap and water). I prefer this type of rolling pin over the conventional one with handles. I can feel the thickness and texture of the dough because the pressure is coming straight from my hands. Dough making is all about becoming one with the dough. It becomes a very zen-like experience and can be very satisfying.
A kitchen scale
Weighing your ingredients vs. measuring will help ensure you create consistently delicious pastries. Plus, it makes it so much faster! Find one which can handle the weight of your favorite mixing bowl plus the weight of ingredients. Usually for home, a 5-pound capacity will be enough. Also, find one which can tare/zero between ingredients. Then you can add one ingredient, tare, add the next ingredient, tare, and so on, and so on. I love this feature because it means fewer dishes! Increments of 1 or 5 grams will be enough.
18” metric ruler
Part of the joy of being a pastry chef is being a perfectionist. So obviously, a ruler with as many lines as possible is like heaven to me. Mine has inches on one side and cm on the other, with lines down the length every ½ inch, and 2 inches wide. It allows me to cut anything precisely and everything, no matter how big or small.
These come in handy when you need to remove excess flour from your dough, work surface, wherever. They’re also great for gently cleaning out the crevices in your tools and machines.
Spray bottle (fine mist)
This is how I prefer to apply egg wash to my pastries. They get a nice little shower without having to touch the dough. And possibly, breaking through those gorgeous layers.
Small whisks and spatulas
Whisks are a must-have for thoroughly combining your ingredients - wet or dry - before adding them to your mixture. And the little spatulas come in handy when trying to get every last drop of your ingredients. Think of it as a squeegee for your measuring cups.
Painter’s tape and Sharpie markers
A great way to label and date extra ingredients. Then you’re without the worry of the words washing away in the fridge or freezer.
I love using these to store ingredients and leftover batters, doughs, and sauces. If I need to warm something up before reusing, it’s already in a glass container, so no worries there. And especially for dry ingredients and nuts, it will keep them fresher and free of bugs. Bugs can sneak their way into boxes. I buy them by the case, so I’m never left without one to grab.