Friday Gift Basket
aka the Wordloaf 2023 bread and kitchen tool gift guide
In lieu of the Friday Bread Basket, which is on Thanksgiving hiatus this week, I have some baking and kitchen tool recommendations and deals for you, should you be looking for gifts for your friends and family (or just yourself). I hate “Black Friday,” but on the other hand, I love a good bread tool, and I wanted to get this out to you all in case you wanted to take advantage of the deals to be had.
While in most cases the items below were sent to me for free to test out, I definitely wouldn’t be recommending them to you if I didn’t actually think they were worth purchasing. (I’m not bothering to pan any of the things I was sent and didn’t care for, so everything here comes with the Wordloaf seal-of-approval.)
And while in nearly all cases I stand to make a little extra flour money if you use the links or discount codes provided (anything below with a † code indicates that it is an affiliate link or code), you need not feel obligated to do so. (Some items are on sale right now, but the discount codes will not expire.)
This is not really a bread item, but everyone needs a nice, sharp chef knife, even bread bakers. Nakano Knives reached out to me recently and asked if I’d like to test out one of their knives, and I was happy to. I had no experience with the company before this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve been very happy with it in the few months I’ve used it. They sent me their Mito Santoku Knife, pictured above, with an olive wood handle and a 7-inch high-carbon stainless steel blade. I am very particular about my knives, but this one has delivered, both in its feel and its sharpness—it stays sharp for a long time and is easy to sharpen when it begins to dull. And at $85, it’s a bargain compared to similar high-quality knives.
The Mito Santoku is currently sold out, but there is a similar 8-inch chef knife that is still available on their website, and they sell a wide variety of other styles of knives. I’ve not tested any of their more fancy (and beautiful) knives, but I have no doubt they are functionally as great as these entry-level ones.
If you use this link and the discount code WORDLOAF, you can get 30% off any Nakano products.†
Brod & Taylor
I don’t know if the Brod in Brod & Taylor refers to a person or just bread, since much of what the company makes is bread-related. Either way, Brod & Taylor make a wide variety of excellent, well-thought-out tools for bread, many of which I use regularly in my practice. Several great ones are on sale right now, in case they were on your list:
Folding Proofer & Slow Cooker (15% off). I’ve had one of these for years, but recently got sent the latest one, which is much improved in terms of temperature control. It’s a little on the small side for me what with all the loaves, but is perfect for the average one-or-two loaves home baker, especially as it can be folded up for storage when not in use, and it’s useful for many other things, like fermenting yogurt or koji.
Both Folding Sheeters (15% off). I have an extensive review of these two devices dropping any day now on Serious Eats, but the TL;DR version is that I love them both, so if you have been contemplating buying one, there’s no better time than the present. I personally think the larger one is the better bang for your buck, especially if you are a professional or cottage baker, but if you can live with a maximum width of 12 inches for your doughs, then the smaller one is both much cheaper and more compact.
Knife Sharpener (20% off). Their knife sharpener is also on sale right now. I’ve used mine a few times, and it seems to work great, though I cannot say I’ve really put it through its paces yet. I’ll update my review once I’ve had time to use it more, but I can definitely say that it puts a sharp edge on a wide variety of knives (including serrated bread knives, which are otherwise hard to sharpen) quickly.
Dough whisk. I’ve had a B&T dough whisk for awhile now, and it’s excellent. The soft plastic handle is very comfortable and the whisk head is stiff and firmly attached to it. A dough whisk is a dough whisk is a dough whisk, but this one is just perfect IMO.
High-capacity baking scale. I like this scale very much, with a few minor caveats. It’s got a flat, tempered-glass top that is very easy to clean, and scales up to 15kg/33 lbs. The overall size is a little on the small side, especially when weighing wide containers, which can obscure the display and buttons, but much of the time I don’t find this a problem. My one beef with this scale is that the buttons are both a little too sensitive and yet not always sensitive enough: I sometimes find the unit type will have changed with an errant button press (often while moving the scale around). Meanwhile, the tare button is sometimes a tad slow to respond, often requiring a second press to register. Neither of these are major drawbacks, and given the $25 sticker price and high-capacity, it would make an excellent choice as an all-purpose kitchen scale.
Precision Kitchen & Coffee Scale with Timer. This scale is also excellent, though it’s really meant for use when making fancy coffee (it even has a timer that can be used for timing pourovers). Unlike the high-capacity scale, it only weighs up to 3kg, but it also is accurate to 0.1g, so it is useful for small-quantity ingredients like salt and yeast. It also has smaller footprint than the high-capacity one, which makes obscuring the display even more likely when weighing in large containers, but it can work as an all-around scale in a pinch, if you can live with the limited capacity. And at $25, it’s very reasonably priced for a scale that goes up to 3kg and down to 0.1g accurately. (It would make for a decent all-around “vacation baking” scale.)
Double-Wall Glass Tumblers. These are not really bread-related, and I wouldn’t have tested them out had they not sent me a set, but I actually love them. I use mine for beer, not coffee (the largest ones can hold a 12-ounce beer comfortably); the thermal walls keep my beer cold far longer than solid-wall glass tumblers. I kind of want to replace all of my beer glasses with these, and am annoyed when the two I have are in the dishwasher and I have to go back to using something else.
Sourdough Home. I’ve already talked about my fondness for the Sourdough Home both here and elsewhere. It’s not on sale currently, but at only $99, it still makes for an excellent gift for yourself or a loved one serious about bread.
If you are already planning to purchase something from B&T (on sale or otherwise) and want to support Wordloaf at the same time, please use this affiliate link to access the B&T website.†
Rosehill Sourdough, like Brod & Taylor, makes tools for bread bakers that were clearly designed by actual bread bakers. Their Bread Mat is the perfect sling for baking bread in Dutch ovens, as it is lightweight, paper thin, and super durable. They come in various flavors, including an oval one that works perfectly in Challenger-style bread ovens.
And they sell some very nice paper-pulp brotforms (my preferred style of brotform), though they are a little on the small side for my taste, since I find my 900g-1000g loaves want a bit more room to grow. (I’m hoping that Rosehill will offer larger ones someday soon.)
They also just added a spatula set to their lineup, which I haven’t yet had a chance to test, though one is on its way to me right now, and I’m guessing they are as well thought-out as their other tools.
Use the code WORDLOAF10 to get 10% off any order from Rosehill†.
I recently developed three pizza recipes for Chef Steps, which is owned by Breville. I’ve not owned many Breville appliances before now, but they are all well-designed and highly-regarded from what I can tell. They sent me one of their Pizzaiolo Ovens to test the Greek pizza in, and I quite like it. It heats to 750˚F in a flash (~30 minutes), makes beautiful pies (both top and bottom), and is highly customizable in terms of heat output. With a 12-inch maximum pizza diameter, it’s a little on the small size for me, though that width is standard for most countertop indoor pizza ovens (including the Ooni Volt), and if it were any roomier on the inside, the device would also be huge.
If you were looking for an oven like this, I think it would make a great choice. They are currently on sale for 20% off through 11/27, along with a few other items from their catalog that might be of interest to you:
Breville Sous Chef® 16 Pro ($120 off; sale ends 12/11)†
Breville Sous Chef® 16 Peel & Dice ($150 off; sale ends 12/11)†
That’s it for all of the tools I have to recommend right now. I hope you are all having a peaceful long weekend, see you next Monday.