My Granny Neal made a version of these Sticky Coconut Maple Bars every Christmas and I wrote a love letter to them and shared the recipe over at The Kitchn – Granny’s Christmas Bars! They’re really perfect for any occasion, but when I was a little kid they were a special treat reserved for Christmas morning. Enjoy!
‘Tis the baking season and time to give gifts to your loved ones who bake pie, cake, bread, cookies and so much more. I’ve had lots of questions about my favorite baking equipment and what to get the bakers in your life. You can always find the list of what I am using in my kitchen in my “Shop” tab at the top of my website. I only post the products that I actually use and love.
Start with a Blow Torch! It is a super fun and exciting tool that I use as often as I possibly can. It is great for toasting meringue, marshmallows and the sugar crust on creme brûlée.
A pretty Pie Dish is super useful and makes it more likely your loved one will bake you a pie!
Below are a few photos of the staples, but check out my full list here.
A solid, heavy duty rolling pin will get used constantly, especially for the pie lovers and anyone who likes cinnamon buns. There is no right or wrong shape, but what is most comfortable to use. The rolling pins with handles are easier to use if you are rolling lots of stiff dough, but the French or Dowel pins allow you to have a better feel for the dough. I use the French (tapered dowel) and handled pins most often. Full selection here.
Rubber spatulas and bench scrapers are essential. If someone is just setting up kitchen these are the perfect gifts, since they are used constantly and super utilitarian. When you check out my full baking equipment list, you’ll find several sizes and brands that I use constantly.
Straight sided cake pans are maybe my most essential baking equipment. Sturdy and deep is how I like my cake pans.
Bread baking equipment and knives are perfect for those who are getting into baking their first loaf or playing with a 100 year old starter. You can get by with just a few things to bake a great loaf of bread or you can take it to the next level. Find more Bread baking equipment.
Bundt pans are a super fun and useful pan. Maybe my favorite cakes to bake, since a simple cake can look so spectacular. find them here: Baking Equipment
Cook books! There are so many to choose from and I have a list of all the books I have baked from recently and for decades. There are also a bunch that I wrote (like this one).
This rolling rack, which is used to store my hot baking trays as they come out of the oven and where I can store baked goods, so they don’t clutter my counter is for the serious baker who is taking over the whole kitchen with all their baked goods. It’s a good thing! You’ll find everything from this rolling rack to my camera equipment in my Baking Equipment List!
When I was growing up my paternal grandmother made a dessert she called “Swedish Cream” on Christmas day. It was rich beyond imagining (at least when I was a child) and its arrival meant the festivities were coming to a close, because we’d all slip into a Christmas Swedish Cream dream state and the adults dozing off usually followed. Much, much later in life, while at culinary school, I realized it was a sour cream panna cotta that she’d been making all those years. My Pear Panna Cotta Cake is inspired by my Granny’s dessert, but I went a little pastry chef with it. I combined Swedish Cream with a poached pear puree and then topped it with a layer of the poaching liquid delicately set into a Jelly with gelatin and put it on a base of almond joconde sponge cake. The dessert is multiple layers and it takes a wee bit of time, but it is actually super easy to make. You can also stop with one or two layers if that’s all time allows. To decorate the sides I sliced pears on a mandoline and dried them in the oven, which couldn’t be easier and they look so stunning. In her memory I will carry on my Granny’s tradition of ending the holiday meal with a smooth, rich, delicate Pear Panna Cotta Cake.
You can watch me make the Pear Panna Cotta Cake in my instagram video.
I think a pavlova is the perfect holiday dessert. It is beautiful enough to be a center piece on your table, so light that it can follow a big holiday meal and it’s flavors can change with your every whim. This Boozy Cherry Pavlova was inspired by the cherry cordial filling in the chocolates that are a holiday stocking tradition in my house. I cooked the cherries in champagne, cherry juice and just a touch of sugar, until they created a boozy syrup. This can be done with just juice for a virgin cherry variation. The pavlova also has a layer of lemon curd and lots of whipped cream. “Man, this is delicious!” was the response from my always willing (and very opinionated) taster (and husband). You can see how I baked the pavlova in this shape in my “Pavlova” video on instagram.
So many people asked about baking the pavlova as individual servings, I created a video for that too. The recipe and directions are below, but to watch me make the mini Boozy Cherry Pavlovas and how I fill them, look for “Cherry Pavlova” in my instagram videos.
If you are looking for the equipment I use in any of my recipes, you can find them all here, on my ZoeBakes Kitchen Essentials page, where you can also find my list of favorite cookbooks and sign up for any updates – I add to it with every post. (more…)
I think this Chocolate Chestnut Bread Pudding may be the ultimate comfort food. I always have bread on the counter. Since my new book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, came out, I have several loaves going at a time. What to do with all the partially eaten loaves? Cube it up, soak it in a rich custard and bake it. It could not be any easier and the results are warm and so satisfying. Bread pudding is one of the those desserts that also doubles as breakfast, like pie and cake! 🙂 No, really, it is full of eggs and toasty bread and this one just happens to have bits of chocolate and chunks of chestnuts. If you were to serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche instead of ice cream, it would be a simple and elegant Christmas breakfast. Add the ice cream and it is a homey, but decadent dessert.
When I worked in restaurants my bread pudding was always one of the most popular desserts on the menu. Hope you enjoy it!
Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day book is out, just in time for the holidays! Thanksgiving is past and now we can dive into the Christmas and Chanukah baking season. Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day is the book I have been waiting to create since the day Jeff and I started our adventure in Five Minute Bread, over a decade ago. This book is full of all the sweet and pretty breads a pastry chef gets jazzed about. There are breads from all over the world, for just about every occasion. From Tahini Swirled Challah, to Christmas breads from all over Europe (and beyond), pitas for Ramadan and other celebrations, even monkey bread for after school, of course, there are several sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, plus this beautiful Holiday Star Bread Recipe. We even have a simple technique for making croissants, which our readers have been asking for since the very first book in 2007. We nailed it and it’s in this new book!
You can watch the simple magic of this bread come together in my Instagram Highlight video.
Washington Post Best Cookbooks of 2018 Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day made this list because the good folks at The Washington Post saw all the beautiful Star Breads being baked and posted on Instagram. So, I have YOU to thank for this amazing honor! Really, what a thrill!
Scroll down to see more of what is in the book, including pictures of me looking pretty excited about the whole thing. It’s never too early to get started on your holiday shopping, so feel free to order a copy of Holiday Bread for yourself and all those loved ones on your holiday list! 😉 We can’t wait for you to bake from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Happy Holidays!
Looking for more gift ideas, you can find all of my Favorite Kitchen Equipment and the Cookbooks I use here!