New to the home bread-baking scene and looking for some tools to make your life easier? From prep to dough storage, these awesome items will make everything better.
If you haven’t already jumped on the sourdough-starter trend and made your own quarantine bread, chances are you’re thinking about it. It’s hard to resist when you see those loaves of fresh bread all over social media. Although it can seem intimidating at first, the right products can make baking bread at home much more manageable.
You probably don’t need a lot of these items if you’re making quick bread (the kind that doesn’t require yeast or another leavening ingredient). However, if you plan to do some consistent bread making, these items will all be handy to have.
The Basics of Making Bread
You can find plenty of recipes online, but here are a few basic recommendations:
- Choose good ingredients: With any homemade food, quality ingredients make a difference. The most important is flour, so don’t skimp there. Opt for something fresh and nutritious, like whole grain flour.
- Careful measuring: Some recipes leave some wiggle room to do your own thing, but bread isn’t one of these. You’ll want to carefully measure and use the right amount of everything to get the best results.
- Pick a mixing method: There are two: the straight dough and sponge methods. The straight dough is simple mixing; the ingredients are added to dissolved yeast. For the sponge method, you add a small amount of flour (and sometimes sugar) to a yeast mixture to create a batter, and then let it ferment.
- Kneading is vital: One of the most important parts of your bread-making experience.
- Then, it’s all about proofing and shaping: Proofing is when the yeast eats up the sugars and gets rid of gas and alcohol, giving the dough flavor and causing it to rise. Then, it’s time to shape the dough into what you want your bread to look like and bake it!
A Reliable Scale: GreaterGoods Digital Food
Remember, when baking bread, it’s vital that your ingredients and measurements are exact. A good scale, like this one from GreaterGoods, will make all that weighing much easier and less intimidating. Measuring your flour, water, or starter in grams or ounces will improve your accuracy and consistency.
Plus, if you’re planning to portion out your dough in multiple smaller loaves or rolls, a scale is necessary to create identical batches.
GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale, Multifunction Scale Measures in Grams and Ounces (Ash Grey)
This GreaterGoods Digital Food Scale is easy to use and read.
A Mixing Bowl: OXO Good Grips Batter
A great mixing bowl is important when baking anything, but especially with bread, because it requires precise mixing. This OXO Good Grips Batter Bowl is a popular choice because of how convenient it is. It has bright red measurements on the side for your ingredients. It holds up to eight cups (two quarts) and has a no-skid base so it won’t move while you’re using it.
It’s also dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy. The pour spout allows you to quickly pour your batter wherever it needs to go with less of a mess. This is another product you’ll use much more often than just when making bread.
OXO Good Grips Batter Bowl
The OXO Good Grips Batter Bowl holds a lot and makes it easy to pour.
A Pastry Board: John Boos Block
You can knead your bread dough on your countertop if you like, but if the surface isn’t ideal, it’s handy to have a pastry board. Wooden pastry boards are best because they’re reversible and easy to clean.
The John Boos Block is expensive, but it’s also a great investment if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Both sides provide a smooth work surface, and one even has a gravy groove that will catch drips, excess liquids, or anything else that might dribble off. The lip on both sides ensures that it sits on your countertop without moving. You can use one side for kneading and the other as a regular cutting board.
John Boos Block KNEB24S Maple Wood Countertop Reversible Edge Grain Cutting Board with Gravy Groove, 23.75 Inches x 23.75 Inches x 1.25 Inches
This John Boos Block is a great work surface for cutting and kneading.
A Bench Knife: Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper
A bench knife (also known as a scraper) is incredibly helpful when making bread. You can use it to divide the dough after fermentation and pre-shape loaves. It’s also excellent for scraping dough off a table, which is always a challenge.
This Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper isn’t just for bread, either. While it’s excellent to use with fresh dough, you can also use it to crush, chop, or measure while cooking or baking. It can clean flour off any work surface or scrape ingredients into a mixing bowl. It has an easy-grip handle and a durable blade.
Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper/Chopper, 6in/15cm x 4in/10cm
This Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper is essential for scraping, cutting, chopping, and more.
A Proofing Basket: Brotform Basket
You don’t need a proofing basket to make your own bread, but it certainly makes things a lot easier. Once you’ve shaped your dough into its final form, you need somewhere for it to hang out and do its final rise before baking. A proofing basket is that space.
The Brotform Proofing Basket is crafted into a European-style bowl for round loaves of bread. It’s made of traditional natural cane with a rustic ribbed pattern that will be left in the crust. If you don’t want that pattern, simply line it with cheesecloth. This is a great tool to help your bread rise properly and prepare it for its finale.
A Bread Lame: Mure & Peyrot
Right before you stick your loaf into the oven to transform it into deliciousness, it’s recommended that you slash the top of it. You use a lame, like this one from Mure & Peyrot, to make this precise cut. This allows the bread to release steam and puff up exactly as it needs to. It also adds texture and allows room for expansion.
Of course, you can use a regular old razor blade to do this, as well. If you’re baking bread often, though, you’ll want the tool the professionals use.
Mure & Peyrot Bread Lame, Made in France, Model Adour, Professional Dough Scoring Tool with Safe Locking Mechanism, One Protective Cover, and One Blade Included, Trusted Brand since 1904
This Mure & Peyrot Bread Lame is a professional tool for completing your bread.
A Digital Kitchen Thermometer
Temperature significantly affects the fermentation process of your bread. You have to keep a close eye on the temperature of everything, from the room your bread is sitting in, to the water you mix into the dough, and the dough itself.
A digital kitchen thermometer, like this one, helps you keep an eye on the temp of the dough and other ingredients, as well as that of the bread when you think it’s done. This is another product that has a variety of kitchen uses.
Digital Kitchen Thermometer for Bread, Candy, Yogurt, Liquids, Baking, BBQ Meat - Instant Read, Waterproof Magnetic Body and Wireless Large Probe with a Bottle Opener and Backlit Dial (Black)
A Loaf Pan: Farberware Nonstick
A loaf pan is a great thing to have on hand, especially if you’re a beginner. It makes it really easy to form and shape your bread because it basically does it for you.
It’s ideal for sandwich-type, rectangular breads.
Loaf pans are also nice to have for quick bread. That’s a totally different method, but you’ll still need one of these for those recipes. This Farberware Nonstick Loaf Pan is an excellent choice. The nonstick material makes it easy to get your finished bread out.
Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-Inch x 5-Inch Loaf Pan, Gray -
This Farberware Nonstick Loaf Pan makes it easy to shape your loaves.
The Original Baking Steel
The Original Baking Steel was created for at-home pizza-making, but it’s also excellent for artisan breads. A baking steel or stone turns your oven rack into a flat surface with even heat. It basically transforms your normal oven into a professional baking one.
Like many of the items on this list, you don’t need a baking steel—you can definitely make bread without one. However, a baking steel can improve the quality of your bread and help you make a perfect pizza.
A Bread Knife: Mercer Culinary Millennia Wide Wavy Edge
When your bread is done, it’s going to smell so wonderful and look so good, you’re going to want to eat it immediately. Make it easier to slice it up and preserve its appearance with a bread knife. This one by Mercer Culinary is inexpensive and has a razor-sharp edge that slices cleanly.
A knife dedicated to cutting bread might seem silly and indulgent, but it’s the right tool for the job.
Mercer Culinary Millennia Bread Knife, 10-Inch Wavy Edge Wide, Black
This Mercer Culinary bread knife is inexpensive and works well.
A Storage Container: Rubbermaid Food Pan
It’s uncommon to make a whole bunch of dough at once because waiting for the yeast to rise and kneading can be time-consuming. That’s why many people like to get it all out of the way in one go. But you don’t have to use all that dough at once. You can save some for later, which is where a great storage container comes in.
The Rubbermaid Food Pan has plenty of room for your dough. It’s also a good shape to store in the fridge, unlike round containers that take up a lot of space.
Rubbermaid 118P CLE 5-3/8 qt Capacity, 12.8" Length x 6-7/8" Width x 6" Height, Clear Color, 1/3" Polycarbonate Extra Cold-Food Pan
This Rubbermaid Food Pan is great for storing extra dough.