When it comes to bread baking, things may quickly become serious. Whatever stage you’re at, there are essential bread-making tools to suit your level of interest, experience, and price. Novice, Curiously Obsessed, and All In have been the stages of my bread adventure.
Whether you’re just getting started, wading in, or have gone completely off the deep end with your bread fascination, these are the tools you should use to keep things fresh and to assist you in becoming the rock star baker you’ve always desired to be.
Stage 1: Beginner Bread-Making Tools
To start baking bread at home, you don’t need many pricey tools. Here are some fundamentals for creating your bakery without breaking the budget.
Plastic or melamine bowls without tight-fitting lids because they eliminate the need for ecologically harmful plastic wrap and are safer than glass when dealing with bread that will swell. A 5-piece bowl collection from Target or a 3-piece set from Kohl’s allows you to work on many tasks simultaneously.
A huge admirer of measuring using a scale, but once you start, you will not want to come back for any dish! This OXO scale is fantastic and easy to use and clean. It’s beneficial to swap between standard and measured measurements for different recipes.
An affordable, necessary tool that will allow you to make the most of every dollar. You can’t go wrong with these KitchenAid plastic scrapers for just $10.
Pans for Loaves
A nonstick loaf pan is ideal for making sandwich bread. Don’t worry about the size (9″ x 5″ or 8.5″ x 4″)—but buy two because you’ll constantly use them for banana bread in between yeasted bread-making sessions, and they’re fantastic to share. Bake Deco has a variety of sizes and pricing to choose from.
The Dutch Oven
Most no-knead bread recipes demand the use of a Dutch oven. These can be exorbitantly priced, but they don’t have to be. Look for one rated at the high temperature required for baking. For a standard boule shape, look for a 5- to 7-quart size with a circular shape (rather than an oval). In addition, certain hues are less costly than others. Remember that your bread doesn’t care what color pot you cook it in, so save some dough!
This 6-quart Dutch oven from Bed Bath & Beyond has a 500-degree rating and is ideal for stews and soups. This Lodge 5-quart pot is pre-seasoned, adaptable, and has a lifetime warranty.
For sourdough bread baking, most people suggest using parchment paper. It’s widely available at supermarkets and big-box retailers. Reynolds Wrap parchment roll is a tried-and-true option; avoid using wax paper, which can melt in the oven and destroy your bread. As an aside, parchment is excellent for cookie baking.
Knife for Slicing Bread
You’re eating bread if you’re creating bread. And you’re chopping it unless you’re an animal. Knives, like Dutch ovens, come in a variety of prices. A sharp, steel-bladed knife, such as this one from Zyliss, works well and comes with a sheath for secure storage.
Stage 2: Strangely Obsessed
As your bread game develops, you’ll find yourself seeking new methods to better yourself, and a few different devices can help, like essential bread-making tools.
While you may keep using that serrated knife, you can acquire a stunning ear with a lame (pronounced lahm), a sophisticated instrument explicitly made for this reason. King Arthur offers a stunning black walnut lame, and Breadtopia supplies this basic form, a favorite of many bakers. Tyler Wire Monkey’s UFO Lames de Boulanger is one of my favorites. These provide excellent control and are adorable and well-designed.
A no-frills Xacto knife is another choice for creating precise, intricate scoring patterns.
Baskets for Banneton Proofing
Bannetons are a fashion statement for sourdough makers but also aid in crust growth. There are many different sizes and shapes to pick from, but having both round and oval-shaped baskets is beneficial for proving various bread variations. Coiled rattan baskets, such as this one from Breadtopia, are a great place to start. Utilizing a liner is also beneficial in preventing high-hydration slices of bread from sticking, which is the worst-case scenario.
Stage 3: Total Commitment to Bread-Making
Pan for Challenger Bread
Jim Challenger, a bread aficionado, created this cast iron pan. It’s a large, multipurpose pan made particularly for making great bread. It’s the standout of the bread business and an investment piece for serious baking.
A stand mixer (such as this vintage Kitchen Aid model) is a piece of vital equipment for many bakers but is not highly recommended. If you have one, you can finally use that dough hook you’ve wanted to use to make enriched dough or bagels. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a flexible and helpful gadget for various purposes.
But, as a beginner bread maker, people believe you should (excuse the pun) have your hands in your dough to learn about texture and gluten formation. Kneading bread or simply flipping and folding a high-hydration sourdough provides me with a Zen feeling. And wouldn’t want to take away your delight.
Huge Heatproof Dish
You’ll also need a Dutch stove to heat your bread correctly. Taking Tartine Bread author Chef Chad Robertson’s advice, the unusual Lodge Combo Cooker to heat bread at home.
If you’re using a more traditional, deep cast iron set, simply make an effort not to consume yourself on the edges while removing the bread, and use nothing plated except if it indicates high-temperature resistance; most finishes aren’t intended to endure such high temperatures for such a long time (which implies our suggested Dutch broilers aren’t generally great for this undertaking, people!).