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    12 Baking Gifts Recommended By A Pro Pastry Chef

    From brushes, to spatulas, to black cocoa powder.

    Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

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    If there's anyone who knows which baking supplies are legit and which aren't, it's a pro pastry chef.

    Kyle Bartone

    So we asked Kyle Bartone, Executive Pastry Chef of Eataly Downtown in New York City, which gifts pastry chefs (or serious home bakers) would actually want this year. This is what he told us:

    1. Non-stick silicon baking mats to make sure your cookies never stick.

    "I use nonstick mats almost everyday in the bakeshop," says Bartone. "Virtually nothing sticks to them, and they last forever." They're especially great for baking cookies, as those peel right off and never stick. If you know someone who goes through parchment paper like there's no tomorrow, do them a favor and get them some non-stick baking mats.

    Get a set of two on Amazon for $8.38.

    2. An endlessly useful bench scraper to help you cut dough, smooth cakes, clean up your counter, or transfer chopped ingredients.

    "Bench scrapers are one of the most overlooked but helpful tools in the bakeshop," says Bartone. They can be used for a wide range of tasks from transferring chopped nuts to scraping dried dough off the counter. "I hold onto a bench scraper as I bake," explains Bartone, "and it helps me work quicker and cleaner." If you know someone who works with dough a lot (or is a bit messy in the kitchen), this is the gift for them.

    Get a metal bench scraper on Amazon for $9.79.

    3. An oven thermometer to make sure your oven temperature is exactly where you want it to be.

    "Oven temperatures are never right," says Bartone, "and a simple way to check is by investing in an oven thermometer." Just clip it onto the grates of your oven and check that the temperature you set your oven at is actually where you want it to be. A lot of times, ovens are not calibrated correctly and can run 10, 20, or even 100 degrees hotter or colder than you want. This could be the difference between a perfect bake and a total mistake.

    Get an oven thermometer on Amazon for $7.00.

    4. A digital scale so you can accurately measure out all of your ingredients like a pro.

    Most home bakers measure by volume (as opposed to weight), which is not the most accurate. "We only use scales in the bakeshop," explains Bartone. "Measuring by volume is too inconsistent, and most, if not all, serious bakers use scales." These days you can get a quality digital scale for pretty cheap, and you can look up recipes online written in weight instead of volume. Transitioning from measuring in volume to measuring in weight is a simple change that can help home bakers ensure successful bakes.

    Get a digital kitchen scale on Amazon for $11.39.

    5. A mini offset spatula to perfectly frost cakes, transfer cookies, and spread batters.

    "My mini offset spatula might just be my favorite tool," says Bartone. "Without it, I don't know how I would get perfect finishes on cakes and cupcakes, or spread batter evenly into a pan." The design of the spatula makes them ideal for getting into tight places, like a cake tin, and helps you apply frosting evenly onto cakes and cupcakes. "For anyone getting into cake decorating, this tiny but mighty spatula is a must," says Bartone.

    Get a 4.5" mini offset spatula on Amazon for $5.36.

    6. A microplane to zest citrus and make fancy chocolate shavings.

    If a recipe calls for citrus zest, the only way to get that super fine texture is by using a microplane — a box grater just won't cut it. "Microplanes help create zest that is so small that it doesn't add texture to a baked good," explains Bartone. Microplanes can also be used to shave chocolate, fresh nutmeg, and assist with a whole slew of other tasks, so they are definitely not a unitasker.

    Get a microplane on Amazon for $12.95.

    7. A big blow torch to perfectly brown meringues and marshmallows., Gregory_dubus / Getty Images

    You know how you see pastry chefs using giant blow torches that look like they came from a hardware store? Well, it turns out there's a reason for that. "Large blow torches help you brown things more evenly," explains Kyle. "The tiny ones have a tendency to burn things and take forever to use," says Bartone. So instead of popping for the cute at-home version, invest in a torch you attach to the top of a butane canister and get toasting.

    Get a butane torch attachment on Amazon for $31.04.

    8. A pastry brush to soak cakes, brush crumbs off things, and apply egg washes.

    For any recipe that calls for egg washing, a pastry brush is your best friend. Bartone suggests buying ones with soft, hair-like bristles instead of the silicone ones. "These help soak up liquids and brush them on evenly — unlike the silicone ones that don't absorb any liquid at all." One good brush will help you do all kinds of things, from brushing egg wash on to soaking a cake in simple syrup, so serious bakers will appreciate this humble gift.

    Get a set of two pastry brushes on Amazon for $8.30.

    9. Quality vanilla bean paste to take your baked goods from good to great., Gmvozd / Getty Images

    Vanilla beans are expensive and certainly not for everyday use, but that doesn't mean you should settle for bad extract. "Vanilla bean paste is a great way to get real vanilla flavor and beautiful little specks without having to buy actual beans," explains Bartone. It's significantly cheaper than using whole beans, yet significantly better than typical vanilla extract. Sure, it's a bit of a splurge, but the bottle has enough paste to last many, many bakes.

    Get two ounces of vanilla bean paste on Amazon for $14.97.

    10. Acetate paper to line cake molds and make shiny chocolate garnishes.

    Acetate paper is a rigid, clear sheet used in pastry kitchens for chocolate work, cake assembly, and a slew of other things. "I use acetate to create shiny chocolate decorations," says Bartone. "The chocolate peels right off of it and gives you a super smooth finish." For cakes, acetate is used to line the edges of a mold so you can layer a cake right in it for easy cleanup.

    Get two rolls of acetate on Amazon for $8.80.

    11. Silica packets to prevent your finicky baked goods from getting soggy.

    "For super finicky garnishes and baked goods," explains Bartone, "I use silica packets to make sure they stay nice and dry." Sugar garnishes, thin cookies, and other delicate pastry items can be stored in a container with silica packets to prevent moisture from making them soggy. Just place the packets near your baked goods, not on 'em, and make sure you don't accidentally eat them. If there is a super serious baker in your life, this is the one gift they probably haven't purchased for themselves yet. Sure, it's weird, but it's what the pros use.

    Get a pack of 100 silica packets on Amazon for $16.99.

    12. Black cocoa powder to give your chocolate desserts a deep color and intense chocolate flavor., Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

    "The one ingredient bakers are really into right now is black cocoa," says Bartone. "It gives baked goods an intense black color and deep chocolate flavor." For home baking, it can be used in everything from cookies (hello homemade Oreos!) to cakes to give you a dramatic presentation.

    Get one pound of black cocoa on Amazon for $11.39.

    Now that you're ready to bake like a pro, check out these posts and put these tools to use:

    19 Life-Changing Baking Tips From Professional Bakers

    Here's How To Make Your Cakes Look (And Taste) More Professional

    26 Seriously Useful Baking Tips You'll Wish You Knew About Sooner