Baking bread doesn’t require loads of kit. With some basic equipment and a bit of know-how, you’ll be making delicious homemade bread in no time.
Here’s a failsafe list of what you need along with a few items that will prove well worth the investment over time, as you up your bread game.
An undisputed champion of the kitchen. The humble dough scraper is brilliant for getting your dough out of the bowl, shaping it, dividing it, transferring it to a work surface and scraping excess dough and flour off your work area. See it as an extension of your baking hand.
Large mixing bowl
Inevitably you will need a bowl for your bread to be mixed and bulk fermented in. Make sure your bowl is big enough to contain the dough when it has doubled in size. Plastic and stainless steel bowls retain heat the best and allow for a slightly faster proof.
Probably the first thing a baker should buy. Getting the right and accurate amount of ingredients is essential, particularly for salt. Invest in a digital scale that can measure to the gram and has a tare button, allowing you to reset the scales to 0 to measure multiple ingredients in a bowl. It is well worth it to spend a little bit extra for a quality scale, as a cheaper variety might lose calibration, or lack sensitivity to light weight changes.
Temperature is as important as any ingredient used in your dough. Investing in a good thermometer is key to achieving consistent results in baking. It really helps if you are a beginner as temperature is one of the most influential variables. Your thermometer can also help to gauge the temperature of water while activating yeast, or of dough in its initial rise. A Thermapen is a good call.
Available in round or rectangular varieties, these are traditionally made of wicker with a spiral weave which leaves a pleasing pattern on your finished loaf. They help keep the dough’s shape and moisture, providing it the stability it needs to go into the oven and rise well. Go for a standard size of 750g of 1kg. To clean the basket after use, leave it to dry and then dust with a brush or soft wire wool.
If you’re wanting to bake your bread into a sandwich loaf, than a sturdy loaf pan is a must. It’s best to go for non-stick Teflon-coated tins so you can slide your bread effortlessly out of the tin after cooling. The most common shape is the loaf, a narrow rectangle and the most common size is 1kg. Baking tins ensure an even heat transfer, a good shape and are durable and easy to clean. If you have a particularly sticky dough, simply butter the tin and coat it with flour.
A cast iron casserole dish, otherwise known as a Dutch oven, is the secret to achieving a shiny golden loaf with a crackly crust and a chewy, airy center at home. With its thick cast iron walls and lid, a Dutch oven ensures a temperature-stable baking environment, holding a higher temperature longer than a home oven, trapping steam so you bread cooks evenly and crisps up on the outside. Most are oven-safe up to 450°F (230°C) and can be preheated empty. We use our trusty LeCreuset but there are many cheaper and just as reliable options out there.
We’ve found this to be a bit of game-changer. It creates a stable environment for your starter and dough so the ideal temperature of 24-26°C can be maintained. Room temperature can naturally vary so to achieve consistently good results, temperature needs to be steady. Plus, it packs away flat so doesn’t have to take up too much space. You can certainly make lovely loaves without it but it’s a nice-to-have bit of equipment and a good investment if you are baking regularly.
These jars are for a sourdough starter to grow in. You need a few for when you feed your starter and they should have a wide mouth, clear walls to see through, a loose-fitting lid, and straight sides that are easy to scrape clean.
Don’t have some stuff? Don't sweat.
Here are a few equipment hacks:
Shower cap - you can use one of these to put over you dough whilst it is proving in its bowl. Thanks to the elasticated sides, it is perfect for covering and staying put and will give to the rising dough.
Damp tea towel and a colander - if you don’t have a proving basket, just use a damp, floured tea towel to line the colander for the dough to prove in. The colander allows for air flow, just like the wicker bannetons.
Use your oven for a proof box - Simply put an oven rack in the middle with your dough on top and on the bottom of the oven put a container of boiling water to create the humidity needed, creating the ideal condition for yeast activity. Close the door and allow the dough to rise.
Cold water - when washing sticky dough off your mixing bowl and other dishes use cold water instead of warm as it is much easier to get rid of the dough that way.