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Bake Better Bread: Breadmaking equipment essentials

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What breadmaking equipment do I need to start baking bread?

I’m often asked “What do I need to start baking bread?”. The answer is that you need very little equipment. In this post, one of my series Bake Better Bread, I suggest all the items you’ll need to get started, and those pieces of equipment to purchase once you’ve been bread baking a while.

My Breadmaking Equipment Essentials

Top Seven Essentials

Digital scales are essential for weighing out ingredients. Digital scales are particularly useful where as old fashioned weights are not, in that you can zero the display each time you add an ingredient to your bowl. The scales I use show not only metric measurements, but ounces and fluid ounces. I still use some recipes with imperial measures, so rather than have to convert amounts, I just set the scale accordingly.

Bowls

Bread Baking Essentials Large mixing bowls and jug

Large mixing bowls and jug

Aquire the largest mixing bowl you can. The capacity should be at least 5 litres. I have plastic, earthenware and metal bowls and all are equally good! A second bowl is always useful.

Measuring Jug

You will be using your jug to pour water rather than measure. Always weigh the liquid you put into your bread. I like a measuring jug with a good lip that can hold at least 1 litre of water.

Dough Scraper

A handy plastic dough scraper is a must, especially if you are hand mixing. It makes it easier to mix the dry ingredients into the wet, but must importantly will scrape the dough off the table as you shape the dough in the early stages. It will be sticky and it will get stuck.

Breadbaking essentials Dough scraper and bread lame

Dough scraper and bread lame

Bread Lame

A bread lame (pronounced as you would lamb) or grignette (green-yet) is used just before you put your dough in the oven. You score or cut the dough to help control how the dough expands during cooking – a sort of chimney if you like. If you didn’t score the bread, it would simply expand where it likes – the side, the bottom, etc.

The one I use looks quite lethal, it is a razor blade on a small metal handle. Bakery Bits have a comprehensive table on the choice of lames.  They range from one that looks very similar to a craft knife where you bread off a small amount of blade when worn down to handmade beauties. Expect to pay around £3.

If you happen to have a small serrated knife, this is an ideal starting point.

Digital Thermometer

These cost just a few pounds and are so useful for checking water temperature. The key to making consistently good bread is to have the right water temperature. Check out my full guidelines on temperature no more tepid water, you’ll use just the right temperature water.

Baking Trays and Tins

You might well have a suitable baking tray in your kitchen already. If you are buying a new tray, buy the largest that will fit in your oven and as heavy duty as possible. Heavy duty trays are less likely to bend and are far more durable.

When you are starting off, you could easily use cake tins that you already have. If you want to make bread loaves, it’s well worth buying some tins. Look for 2lb double skin tins. Confusingly, these are rated in imperial measurements.

Breadbaking essentials: granite tile, water sprayer, thermometer

Useful equipment: granite tile, water sprayer, thermometer

Water Sprayer

Getting steam into the oven means a crustier loaf. Water sprayers (I prefer the pump version) are available at DIY and other stores for a couple of pounds. Read more about Heat and Steam

Breadmaking Equipment for the passionate baker

Whilst you can live without the following, you’ll soon find they are helpful if you start breadmaking more frequently.

Top 4 Essentials

Baking Stone

Domestic ovens are not designed to bake bread as soon as you open the door, heat is lost. Consistent heat means a better loaf of bread. You can go some way to solving this by adding some sort of baking stone to your breadmaking equipment essentials. You pre-heat your oven for an hour before baking with the stone in situ to retain heat.

This can be as simple as a granite tile from a DIY store which will cost you under £10 or a pizza stone (although round ones do have their limits). If you are making individual loaves, you can also use a dutch oven or cast iron casserole dish with a lid. I have granite tiles and a refractory baking stone which costs around £30.

Breadbaking Essentials: Bread tins, refractory baking stone, rolling pin

Double skin bread tins, refractory baking stone and rolling pin

Reusuable Silcone Sheets

I have large sheets that fit the shelves in my Rofco baking oven. These are indispensable. You can use them on top of baking trays and baking stones to make it really easy to get your bread in and out of the oven. They are very long lasting and can be used again and again.

Long Rolling Pin

I will always choose a wooden roller, I find these work best for me. Choose a 45 cm long roller which is longer than standard rollers. These are ideal when you are rolling out croissant dough and pastry.

Stand Mixer

Stand mixers come into their own particularly when you are making sweet doughs where you need to add butter. They are an investment, and I’d make sure that I will be using the mixer for more than just breadmaking! You cannot mix dough well in a food processor.

Breadbaking essentials: Kenwood stand mixer

Choose a stand mixer with a dough hook

Do make sure the mixer comes with a dough hook and choose one that has the most powerful motor you can afford. It is very easy to be swayed by the colour of the stand mixer, but the more powerful, the more robust it will be and dough making is very physical. For example, a Kitchen Aid is around 300W a Kenwood Chef Titanium 1500W. You’ll need as large a bowl as possible. The largest are usually around 4.6 litres, however this does not mean you can mix that quantity of ingredients, that is usually around 2.6 kg.

Now of course, all you need is the ingredients!

Find out more

I hope this has inspired you to bake. I hope to see you at one of my classes.  I have linked to items to make them easier to source for you on Amazon.

Read more tips in my Bake Better Bread Series:

Bake Better Bread: Baker’s Percentages

Bake Better Bread: Pre ferment – Pâte fermentée

Bake better bread: Fresh Yeast

Bake better bread: bread baking essentials

 

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