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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 5 Essentials
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.
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. Best option is to buy on a roll and cut to the size you need.
Long Rolling Pin
I will always choose a wooden roller, I find these work best for me. Choose a 40 cm long roller which is longer than standard rollers. These are ideal when you are rolling out croissant dough and pastry.
Banetons and Brotforms
Banetons are baskets for proving bread, particularly sourdough. The baskets are very well floured before the dough is added. This helps form a skin on the dough and I feel it ‘tames’ the dough. Banetons are made in various materials including plastic, cane and wood fibre. Standard banetons are either ridged or smooth, but other patterns are available that will be transfered to your loaf. Amazon stock a range of shapes and sizes. As a guide a 23 cm round banneton will take 1 kg of dough.
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.
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. John Lewis stock a good range of stand mixers and they provide a two year guarantee.
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: