Once you have committed to making bread for the first time you’ll need to get some baking equipment. Really, you only need an oven to bake and a workbench to work your dough. The other equipment makes the process easier, more accurate and improves quality. If you’ve looked at bakery equipment stores saturated with gadgets you’re not even sure you’ll need, it’s overwhelming. So, I’ve got you covered. This compilation of bread baking equipment for beginners is perfect for getting started.
As we go through the products, I’ll do my best to highlight if the item is essential – you won’t need everything on this list! If you so wish, I have provided links to purchase many of the products listed. I’ve also attempted to be clear where the product itself is recommended or whether a similar one is suggested. You’ll need to provide the oven and the worktop, and you’re all set! I also have a budget bakery guide where I’ve kept costs as low as possible.
You’ll use bowls to weigh ingredients, mix ingredients, bulk fermentation and sometimes as proofing basket alternatives! A decent set of bowls will last a lot longer than the flimsy plastic ones, so it often saves money to not buy cheap (if you can). If you don’t have some bowls, here is a fantastic set that comes with lids. You’ll need to cover the dough as it rests. Therefore a lid is ideal, although plastic wrap is a perfectly acceptable solution.
You can use cups and spoons to measure your ingredients, but you should invest in a decent set of scales for accuracy. This set from Myweigh weighs up to 6 kilos in 1 gram increments. A larger set of scales like this can be supplemented with precision scales. These provide accuracy down to 0.01 gram which I use as I use small amounts of yeast and salt in most of my doughs.
Once you’ve got a pair of dough scrapers, you’ll use them all the time! A metal scraper is for dividing dough and cleaning tables. It has a blunt blade that won’t dent your work surface yet easily slices through dough. A plastic scraper is perfect for removing dough from bowls, kneading and cleaning bowls. Treat them well, and they’ll last a lifetime!
A dough thermometer is used to monitor dough temperature. This is important for bread as yeast is very temperature reliant. If the dough is too cold, it will take a long time to rise. Too warm, and it will turn out gassy and sticky. A temperature probe is not essential for making bread, but they improve consistency, timing and help to eradicate errors. If you don’t get one at first, I suggest adding it to your birthday list!
You don’t need a dough mixer to make bread. Kneading by hand is a pleasurable experience and produces exceptional bread, but having a decent mixer does make kneading easier! Most bakers are surprised by how much bread they make at home when they get one.
When selecting a mixer, stay away from KitchenAid, Kenwood and similarly branded models. Their parts are made of plastic, and the motors can’t cope with the weight of bread dough. Try the Ank or a Bosch. These two are recommended by home bakers in their droves as their parts are more durable. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can often find old planetary mixers such as Hobarts on secondhand sites at a similar price.
We use our phones for everything these days. Still, once you find yours is constantly covered in flour, you’ll realise why I recommend getting a designated timer! Having a couple of timers is especially handy when making several loaves as it helps you keep track of fermentation, kneading and baking duration.
A handy tool used to incorporate the dough during the early stages of mixing. I prefer to knead with my hands or a mixer, but if you have arthritis or want to save your hands from getting dirty, a Danish whisk like this helps a lot.
When proofing bread, a warm and humid environment that doesn’t fluctuate is desired. The best way to achieve this is with a home proofing box. No more worrying about your kitchen being too cool to raise your bread when you have one of these! The best home proofer is this one from Brod & Taylor. It’s a real workhorse!
To proof bread, you’ll want a bread tin or a banneton to support the dough as it rises. All baking equipment that goes into the oven needs to handle high temperatures. A lot of cheap brands of bread tins warp when they reach baking temperatures of over 220C (430F), so check the description before you buy. If you are in the UK, I recommend this bread tin from Nesbits. If not, try local professional baking stores. This bread tin from Amazon is the best one I can find.
A banneton proofing basket is synonymous with sourdough baking but can be used just as well for yeast bread. The dough will undergo its final rise in the basket before it is tipped out onto a peel, slid into the oven, or lowered into a Dutch oven on a greaseproof sling.
Bannetons come in round or long shapes. I’ve not noticed a difference in quality between brands, but do check that the size is suitable for the bread you want to make. I use round ones with a 9″ diameter, perfect for 500-700 gram loaves. A baking sheet is a must if you wish to make bread rolls and pastries. Again, check that it is suitable to withstand the oven’s high heat. You will also want some baking paper to line the trays for soft rolls and pastries.
For bread, the oven should be a convection oven, preferably with the option to heat the bottom element independently. If you don’t have this option, a second baking stone above the bread helps to increase heat exposure. If you struggle with baking in your oven or can’t turn the fan off, consider baking with a Dutch oven. A Dutch oven limits the range of shapes and styles you can make but is perfect when the dough is proofed in a round banneton. The Challenger bread pan has recently been a game-changer for Dutch oven bakers. They are a popular choice for bakers with a lower-powered oven and those making sourdough at home.
To score beautiful designs in your bread a lame is needed. With one of these tools, your bread will look just as “sharp” as your favourite bakers! A serrated blade will work in the meantime, but if you want to progress into more elaborate designs, a lame is the only choice. See my guide on what knife to use for scoring bread.
A baking stone converts your oven into the perfect baking chamber! This baking essential conducts heat into the base of the loaf to give your bread a better oven spring, shorter bake time and a more even bake. If your home oven isn’t all that powerful, it can be supplemented with a second stone placed above the bread. This intervention helps the oven retain heat to a higher degree and browns the top of the loaf evenly. If you can’t get a baking stone, a baking sheet can be used to bake the bread with good, but not great results, but better than baking on just the oven shelf.
Instead of a baking stone, you can use the Dutch oven method to bake your bread. A baking stone can be used to improve the heat performance of a Dutch oven.
If you bake your bread in tins or trays, you won’t need a peel. You will, however, want one to slide the raw dough onto a baking stone. A home baker’s peel is a smaller version of what professional bakers use to transfer bread in and out of the oven. You can use an upside-down baking tray and greaseproof paper sheet if you don’t want to get one, although you’ll likely get fed up with how clunky it is.
A decent set of oven gloves to take your bread from the oven is almost a necessity. Bread baking uses hotter temperatures than cake baking or roasting, so domestic oven gloves can get hot quickly! Here are the ones I recommend, they have long arms, cope with high temperatures and are easy to slide on in a hurry!!
A Dutch oven is commonly used by sourdough bakers but also for other types of bread, such as no-knead yeast bread. I love my Uno Casa oven! You’ll need a Dutch oven sling to lower your dough into it or cut your own sling from greaseproof paper.
The Challenger bread pan is much bigger than typical Dutch ovens, which allows you to make different types of bread. Both are great, but the Challenger’s versatility and bake quality just edge it!
If you are having issues baking your bread, an oven thermometer can be a blessing in disguise! Use it to check that your oven is at the correct temperature, a common cause of burnt and poorly risen bread.
To get a crispy crust on your bread, you’ll need to add water to the oven to create steam. Common methods include; pouring water into a preheated deep tray underneath the bread or spraying water into the chamber with a water spray. I use a combination of both. To help your oven hold its temperature when the water is added, fill your baking tray with lava rocks. If you use a Dutch oven, the tray method won’t work. You’ll need to spray the baking chamber before closing the lid.
To properly cool bread, it’s best to have airflow all around it. A cooling rack is a handy gadget. If you don’t have one already, here’s an excellent choice from Amazon.
A sieve is a great accessory when dusting flour on the table (or the bread) or removing unwanted items from the flour. Check out this sieve from Amazon if you don’t have one!
Add fancy designs to your bread by using these stencils when dusting flour on your crust before it goes into the oven.
Grab a couple of cool ones and invite some friends over for a garden party! This pizza oven from Woody reaches very high temperatures. You’ll think you’re sitting in Italy when you’re in your backyard!
Making your own flour is not just fun, it’s good for you too! Try a Nutrimill if you want to get into milling your own flour.
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If you’ve been following the introduction to bread baking course, I bet you are itching to get started? Don’t worry. We are almost ready to make our beginner’s bread recipe! There’s just one more topic to cover: Selecting the ingredients to make bread. Click the link below to continue:
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