Is there anything better than pulling a hot loaf of bread or a cake or homemade granola out of the oven? Between the scents that fill your entire house and the immediate comfort of the warmth and the familiar taste, for many people, baked goods are the wonderfully, carb-y equivalent to popping a Xanax. And in the midst of the insanity of holiday shopping and cooking and party-hopping, there’s nothing more welcome that some soothing gluten goodness (and the necessary accoutrements, obviously).
If you’re shopping for a hardcore gearhead, always looking for the best of the best, have we got the knife for you. If your outdoorsy, foodie uncle is stumping you (for the third year in a row!), we’ve got an idea that won’t slow him down. And if your best friend is an Instagramming machine with a penchant for palm trees and farmer’s markets, there’s even something on this list for her.
Of course, don’t forget that you could also get in the kitchen yourself, and mix up a quick bread or a basket of scones or even some jam yourself. We can help you with that, if you want.
Either way, this holiday season, let the baked goods lovers know that all is well in the world of wheat (or, you know, wheat-alternatives—we don’t discriminate!) and give them the good stuff.
The Bread Lover
Zingerman's Deli, an Ann Arbor institution, knows its stuff when it comes to bread. So for the carb-obsessive in your life, there's nothing better than a year-long membership to their aptly named Bread Club. There are lots of options—from one loaf a month for three months to three loaves of bread for six months, for the truly dedicated. Go forth and make your favorite gluten lover very happy.
Bread Club membership, $70-$265, zingermans.com
The Gluten-Free Pal
The biggest complaints from people who have to stick to a gluten-free diet tend to be that, one, gluten-free stuff just doesn't taste as good, and two, it's really expensive. True and true. So treat your wheatless friend to Cup4Cup flour, thought of as the cadillac of gluten-free flour, that seamlessly replaces flour in muffins, breads, scones and just about everything else. Let them eat gluten-free cake—that tastes good finally!
Cup4Cup gluten-free flour, $22-$98, food52.com
The East-Coaster Dreaming of Los Angeles
If "California Dreamin'" is this person's ringtone, we can help—at least for as long as it takes to eat a piece of toast. Before Sqirl was Sqirl, Jessica Koslow was a jam-maker, selling her wares at the farmer's market, known for her quirky flavor combinations (from aprium and olallieberry to rhubarb kumquat). Now, of course, Sqirl has straight-up exploded and the lines are the stuff of legends. Luckily, you can avoid the line and send your friend the jams from Sqirl's online store. Or, if you're a really good pal, you can gift her a year-long jam subscription.
Sqirl jam, prices vary, sqirlla.com
The Mad Scientist
For the baker that likes a project, there's nothing better than sourdough bread: you have to feed it, let it breathe, and make sure it gets enough attention. It's kind of like a pet you get to eat. (Weird.) King Arthur Flour's fresh sourdough starter—one of the few available—comes from a starter that's been around for more than 100 years. It changes and adapts to its caretaker's surroundings, cultivating a unique taste. It's a gift that keeps on giving. And it also makes for a killer BLT.
Fresh sourdough starter, $8.95, kingarthurflour.com
Voted the "best Babka in New York," Breads Bakery's insane chocolate babka is the stuff a chocoholic's dreams are made of: combining French cultured butter, Belgian dark chocolate, and Nutella, the yeasty bread is a rich, delicious mess of a loaf. And we bet your friend might give you a slice.
Breads Bakery chocolate babka three-pack, $44.95, foodydirect.com
The Gear Guy
The avid bread consumer obviously needs the best possible bread knife, and that's pretty unanimously thought to be a Wüstof. Made from a single blank of of high-carbon steel, this baby will slice through loaves beautifully, without tearing or catching.
Wüstof bread knife, $99.95-$119.95, surlatable.com
The New Yorker at Heart
Oh, Zabar's. The landmark deli on the Upper West Side has sustained New Yorkers bagel-and-lox habit for more than 80 years. If you've got an ex-New Yorker in your life—or just a person who appreciates a good bagel—about the nicest thing you can do is send them a Zabar's bagel bag, with 18 different kinds of bagels, perfect for freezing and toasting. Granted, if they don't like toasting their bagels, they should probably just move back to New York.
Zabar's NY Original Toasting Bagel Bag, $29.94, Zabars.com
The Gourmet Hiker
Maybe you have a friend who is outdoorsy enough to keep legit hiking boots in his tiny apartment, and also makes the best French toast you've ever had. He deserves fancy-pants granola, like this energy-boosting Apple Granola from the aptly named Little Apple Granola, based in Sebastopol, California. He'll think of you when he eats his breakfast at the top of a mountain (or something(.
Little Apple Granola's Apple Granola, $15.25, mouth.com
Make something homemade! Think of it as a step-up from those finger paintings you made when you were three. If your grandma has a sweet tooth, try some puppy chow. If she always has the best cereal, mix up some granola. If she likes a little something fancy on her morning toast, whip up some lemon curd. The "Best Grandchild" trophy is within your grasp.