The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What are your bread making essentials?

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butterflygrooves's picture
butterflygrooves

What are your bread making essentials?

No, I'm not talking about ingredients, I mean tools!  I'm fairly new to bread making and although I have the few things I need to make basic loaves, this is going to be a life long addiction in which more tools will be needed. 


I plan on making every kind of bread I can possibly try so what might I need in the future?


What are your essentials?

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

The things I use most often are


an old wooden spoon :)
a big plastic rubbermaid bowl with lid
a plastic dough scraper (3 in x 5 in size)
a Taylor scale (to 11 kg in 1-gram increments)
a small bowl-scraper spatula
a couple of coiled-willow bannetons and cloth lined collanders
two small plastic bowls (about 8 Tbsp capacity) for weighing salt
a clamp-clasp glass jar (with a rubber gasket seal) for wild yeast culture
a dozen unglazed quarry tiles lining two shelves in the oven


That's it.  I rarely, but occasionally, use my Bosch mixer, and even more rarely use my Magic Mill grain mill.  I don't consider these essential though.  I could bake all that I bake without them, and without the rest of the "toy/tool" collection in my baking drawers.


Have fun assembling your own "tools", (er..  toys)
OldWoodenSpoon


 

jlewis30's picture
jlewis30

A big bowl and a clean counter!

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Well, I used to use my hands more than any other 'utensil', but unfortunately the KitchenAid does most of the work now - arthritis.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Although I use a few additional tools to keep dough from sticking to the counter, make cleanup easier, slash loaves, make my oven more like a "hearth", constrain dough in pans while baking, keep slack doughs from spreading out into a pancake while proofing, measure temperatures of both ingredients and baked loaves, and keep my dough from drying out, I could lose any of them and still bake bread. The basic tools I'd be hard pressed to do without are:



  • a measuring scale (or two: one with 0.1 gram resolution, one with kg capacity)

  • a peel (short handled metal)

  • parchment paper

  • dough knife (also called bench scraper)

  • mixing bowl

  • heavy spoon

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

but my scale is a godsend. I mix by hand and find a Danish dough wisk helpful, but a plastic dough scraper works well, too.


 


Larry

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I find a thermometer essential to knowing when bread is done.  


For basic breads, the thump test, combined with the crust color is usually enough, but breads made with high hydration doughs can be "sneaky".  They give every impression of being done from the outside (good crust color, hollow sound when thumped) but can still be wet and doughy in the center.  The only way to be sure is to take a temperature to see if the bread is really done.  


The thermometer also comes in handy for measuring the temperatures of liquid ingredients and doughs.  I put it in my "proofing chamber" (my microwave with a cup of heated water) to check the temp in there, too.  


My favorite things for baking (not essential, but make the experience most pleasant) are:


a 6 qt dough rising bucket and lid


an escali scale


a plastic scraper


a danish whisk


a marble board for kneading 


my baking stone


a lame that takes double edged razor blades


Plastic shower caps to cover rising dough


Parchment paper


Bonus item:  my clay baker--not necessary at all but I love baking in it.

Eidetix's picture
Eidetix

I'm new to bread baking too. With remarkable results, I've been going by the book, which in my case is "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart.


The maestro recommends oil to keep dough from sticking to bowls or developing a skin during fermentation and proofing. Thus I bought a $10 Misto pump-action oil sprayer at Target. It works great. Being of Italian ancestry, I find myself tempted to spray olive oil on everything I see.


The same mister at the same price is available on Amazon. Here's the link:


http://www.amazon.com/Misto-M100S-Gourmet-Brushed-Aluminum/dp/B00004SPZV/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1288802326&sr=1-1

jlewis30's picture
jlewis30

HAHA, Olive oil makes all things better!

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I was so enamored of the oil mister I got two of them, and put olive oil in one and salad oil in the other. It works great (although it looks a little stupid since "olive oil" is printed right on both misters).


Now I can spray things like my work surface and the inside of my bulk rise container without shuddering at the expense and waste.


 


(My experience is those oil misters work great if you follow directions, but unfortunately the needed directions often don't come with the mister! Most importantly, fill the mister only half full of oil; air pressure in the remaining "empty" half is what makes it work. When the pressure gets a little lower, stop and pump again, otherwise the "mist" will revert to an ugly stream - this means often having to pump right in the middle of doing something, that's life! To lengthen the life of the mister, partially unscrew the top to let the pressure hiss out when you're all done rather than trying to keep the pressure while storing it. It's inevitable that one will clog every few months or years, but it's easy to fix; I can post details on another thread where it's more relevant.)

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I cannot do without a good mixer (hence my endless mixer posts). I bake for a family of five (3 adults, a teen and a 5 year old who loves bread). I don't have it in me to knead it all by hand. So, for me, an essential is a good mixer for doughs.

Felila's picture
Felila

Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook
Measuring cups (I don't have a scale, alas)
Measuring spoon for yeast and salt
Pot lid to cover mixer bowl, for rising in bowl
My grandmother's 70-year-old linen teatowel, to cover rising boules
Razor blades for slashing
Old sheet pan for rising and baking
Metal racks for cooling


The only thing on this list that I bought JUST for bread baking was the razor blades. The pack of double-edged razor blades has lasted a loooong time.


The teatowel has a cheerful 1940s design with flowers. Brightens up the kitchen :)

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

My essentials, aside from the obvious (bowls, measuring utensils, etc) are



  • Plastic dough scraper - makes a great dough divider

  • Scale that weighs to 1 gram

  • Baking stone

  • Silicone baking sheet that I use for dough work - simplifies cleanup

  • Cooling racks (can be improvised with removable stove burner grates)

  • Tea towels to wet and cover dough when I don't want to waste plastic wrap


I also have a mixer and a grain grinder, both of which I use a lot but are not essential, and lots of things that may or may not be helpful.  Things that I get when I just get started on a new hobby are the ones that are most likely to end up hanging around uselessly forever.  So tread carefully.


Rosalie

sourdoc's picture
sourdoc

Like a lot of others, but mine include:


 



  • big mixing bowls (I use glass and ceramic)

  • dough-rising bucket (clear plastic with lid)

  • plastic dough scraper, curved on one side

  • big plastic tubs with lids to hold flour (easy to scoop from)

  • baking stone

  • parchment paper

  • digital scale

  • pump sprayer (for creating steam in the oven)

  • shallow baking tin filled with lava rocks (for creating steam in the oven)

  • baker's lame for slashing dough

  • cooling rack

  • proofing baskets (I haven't found real ones, but use bread baskets lined with flour-dusted tea towels)

  • great baking books (Peter Reinhart, etc)

  • computer (to access The Fresh Loaf blog!)


Happy baking!


 

CanuckJim's picture
CanuckJim

Not much to add to the impressive and informative list of tools.  However, one of the things I use most around here is a very fine meshed stainless steel sieve; it happens to be Italian, but there are others out there.  I find it invaluable for getting a very thin but complete flour coating on my work surface, on high hydration breads like Ciabatta, on unlined banneton (I value the spiral pattern) and on wooden or steel peels.  Better yet, when you've finished hand kneading, for example, you can scrape excess flour into the sieve, then shake it back into the bag, discarding the clumpy bits.  For breads on a wooden peel, I use brown rice flour as the slipping agent.  It has no flavor,  burns more slowly than bread flour and when it does burn, it does so in sheets.  As for thermometers, I'd recommend a thermocouple (two dissimilar metals react to give the reading) type, like a Thermopen, rather than a thermistor (one metal) type that you can find in any kitchen store.  The thermocouple style is more expensive, sure, but it's also a lot faster and more accurate than a thermistor.  I've had mine almost ten years; it sees a lot of use (steaks, even), and I've put exactly one battery in it.


As for scales, I'd recommend the newer (and cheaper) type that has a baker's percentage function.  My old Salter gave up the ghost a few months ago (cost $90), so I replaced it with one that works with baker's percentages as well as the usual features (cost about $50).  If anyone needs a source, send me an email and I'll forward a link (I'm not representing the source in any way).


CJ