Unlike glassblowing or dressage, making bread is a hobby that requires little in terms of initial investment. You need flour, you need packaged yeast or a sourdough starter (which you can order, get from a friend, or cultivate on your own), and you need an oven. All other tools are negotiable.
But if you’re several loaves in and have decided baking might be more than just a passing COVID-era distraction, it might be time to level up your bread making tools. We turned again to our panel of experts—Josey Baker, author of Josey Baker Bread; Amanda Turner, former baker at Odd Duck in Austin; Joy Huang, home baker of Instagram renown; and Claire Saffitz, who needs no further introduction—to find out what equipment, from digital scales to bread knives, they rely on at home.
“I feel strongly about our sourdough home: a translucent plastic deli quart container, nothing fancy or special about it. It’s round which makes stirring easy (no corners), it’s the right depth (a butter knife or chopstick will reach all the way to the bottom for thorough mixing), it’s tapered (no having to reach under a ledge like in a jar), and it’s super accessible and affordable!”—Josey Baker
“I didn’t know how interesting different wheats and grains could be until I worked with our local artisan flour gurus at Barton Springs Mill. I especially recommend their Rouge de Bordeaux flour, which has such a unique flavor and a good amount of protein. When baked it has notes of cinnamon and baking spice, but it works well in savory applications, too. They’ve just started shipping straight to consumers, so it’s an awesome opportunity for home cooks to get their hands on flour that typically you would have to buy at a farmer’s market or specialty purveyor.” —Amanda Turner
“I love locally grown, fresh milled whole grain flour the most, but Central Milling is a good mail order option.” —J.B.
“This scale has a high capacity—up to 20 pounds—and is extremely precise.” —J.B.
“An 8.5-inch banneton is the perfect size for my loaves, which are 985 grams before baking. I recommend getting one with a liner. Without one, you will get those rings of flour on your loaf—which is pretty, but if you’re scoring detailed patterns, a smooth, floured surface is preferable.” —Joy Huang
“The one unexpected bread making tool I find myself using throughout the process is this little dusting wand from OXO. It offers a ton of control, so I don’t have flour flying everywhere when I’m dusting a work surface, dough, or banneton.” —Claire Saffitz
“I personally like a bench scraper that is on the larger side because it makes cutting through large amounts of dough easier. Some bakers I know even sharpen the edges like you would a knife to make cutting easier.” —A.T.
“I use a plastic shower cap—the kind you get from hotels—to cover my bowls and bannetons. It’s easy to slip on and off, and unlike plastic wrap, reusable.” —J.H.
“I like to score intricate designs into my bread, and I don’t like traditional lames because I feel like I have less control. But I love these UFO lames because it’s like holding the razor blade in your hand—but without danger of cutting yourself.” —J.H.
“This is a good brand of double-edged razor blade. At the bakery, we use them on lames/handles, but if you don’t have one at home, I suggest eating a popsicle, then carving the popsicle stick to fit the razor.” —J.B.
“For scoring, I use a cake decorating turntable to make it easy to rotate the dough, dental floss to help plot out the center of the loaf and its axes of symmetry, and a wooden skewer to draw with.” —J.H. (See Joy’s technique here.)
“A combo cooker is sort of like an upside-down Dutch oven—you place your loaf on the preheated skillet and cover it with the domed lid. Lodge’s Cast Iron Combo Cooker is a great and not super expensive option.” —J.B.
“This is the Dutch oven that I use for home baking. It’s hard to beat this quality for the price, and cast iron not only retains heat really well but will last forever. You could buy a combo cooker especially for bread baking, but if you use parchment to lower your loaf into the pan, any good Dutch oven will do. This is a good one.” —A.T.
“Instead of worrying about burning myself by getting my loaf into a Dutch oven, I just slide my dough on parchment paper right onto my Baking Steel and then invert a stock pot over the bread.” —J.H.
“This is the bread knife that I use. I’ve had a lot of different bread knives in my career, but this one was given to me as a gift from a friend about 5 or 6 years ago and it’s still razor sharp! Also the quality for the price is really great, so I highly recommend it.” —A.T.
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