The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New baker with no hardware

jkbff's picture
jkbff

New baker with no hardware

Hi again, all!

I appreciate all the comments/replies I got on my KA mixer thread. I hope to keep that thread open as a journal once my mixer comes so that way others can see my 'review' or experience with the 7qt mixer.

Anyways, I was thinking about it today, and I have no hardware. I mean, I have a norpro pizza stone, a few doughmakers pebble pans (two cookie sheets (a smaller and a bigger one) and a 9x13, I think), some Anchor glass dishes, a cheapie walmart set of spring form pans and a few aluminum half-sheet pans, but no loaf pans, bundt pans or tube pans. So I am going to need to start acquiring things and I really don't know where to start. I have a french rolling pin, but to me, it feels like it needs to be sanded a bit more smooth, so I'm not sure about it? I also have a few stainless steel, plastic, glass and zak! confetti mixing bowls.

A lady I worked with always talked about her pans that she had. She'd say well this pan has this coating so I use it for this and this, because it bakes darker, but when I want to do lighter colored stuff, I use this (same shaped) pan because it bakes lighter etc. She'd use glass for deserts if they were being served out of the dish, or the half sheet pans if they were being served on a tray. Bread was always done on the half sheet pans, but we used formed dough balls.

Locally, I have access to walmart and a hardware store that oddly has better kitchen equipment than the few other department stores around town (Herbergers (bon-ton) and Jc Penny's). I also have access to three national food/wares distributors and access to a restaurant supply store about an hour and a half away.

What do you guys think I should have in my collection? What kind of inserts I should get so I can make sandwich breads (I'm thinking like the breads subway or jimmy johns makes), if I need other stuff for mixing/measuring and what not. The biggest questions are what kind of metals and coatings.

Hopefully I can have a decent collection arrive about the same time my mixer does. Thanks in advance for the replies/advice!

suave's picture
suave

There are two items not found in typical kitchen that I consider indispensable - a scale, and a plastic dough scraper (get a dozen).  Thermometers are good to have, both thermocouple and IR laser.   Non-stick coating does not work that well on lean doughs, so I'd get all pans in anodized aluminum and stainless steel.  You might need a better stone at some point.   You will need gear for steaming, what kind depends on what type of oven you have.  Timers, I find that 4 is about right amount.  Notepad, calculator, and that should do it.

CelesteU's picture
CelesteU

I agree with the dough scraper and scale as absolutely essential items.  King Arthur makes a $2 scraper that is perfect.  I'd add a dough rising container with a lid--whether it is a large mixing bowl & plastic showercap, lidded Cambro container, or a recycled plastic foodsafe tub, you're gonna want to use a big container that fits in the fridge.  It is an essential piece of equipment for any dough requiring a refrigerated rise, and if the container has a measuring scale on the side, you can easily tell how much the dough has increased in volume.

Forget buying fiddly specialty pans in the beginning--go to the nearest restaurant supply house and buy three or four "half sheet" pans (13" by 18").  Heavy, rolled edge alumnium half sheet pans will last forever and can be used for nearly any baking project.  They won't warp.  They cost between $5 and $10, depending on the gauge of the alumnium.  Often called "bun pans" at restaurant supply stores, these pans also have raised plastic lids if you want covers.  If you're lucky enough to have an oven that can accomodate full sheet pans, get those instead.  A couple of quarter sheet pans are nice, if you do small batch baking.

While you're at the restaurant supply store, you can pick up a huge roll of baking parchment.  Line your pans with parchment when you bake, and cleanup is as easy as tossing the parchment.  Try to find a roll that's the same width as your baking pans, which makes life a tiny bit easier.

Ria's picture
Ria

I'd start with a book that will walk you though learning to bake bread. I would suggest The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Get the book, and then go recipe by recipe    and buy what you need as you go. Amazon has it all; no need to waste time going to stores. I have been baking bread for years. I have a pizza stone, a few bread pans (never have found the holy grail of bread pans, lol). A scale...yep, that's a biggie when measuring out sourdough starters. AFter a few years I ordered a Pullman pan from Amazon; only use it once or twice a year, but it's lovely when I need it. I have some brotforms now, but when I started I used cheap stainless steel bowls. Experiement with what you have available before investing a lot of money.

In short, don't collect gear. Work your way through learning about baking bread, and expand from there. Hope this helps. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Lol!

I do have a scales and a bench scraper (large wide plastic putty knife, lightweight from hardware store) one spatula/bowl scraper and a sturdy wooden spoon.  One roll of baking parchment and an odd assortment of pans and a screwdriver to remove most of their handles (and put them back on.)  A large bowl, a shower cap (and pan lids) to cover and a hand mixer if I ever knead need it.  One roll of alu-foil.   A plastic and a metal colander and one basket that when lined with a flat weave dish towel or cloth makes a good fermenting form holding bread-form during the last rise.  A baking tray (it has bumps so I guess it is a broiler pan) that came with the oven.  One oven thermometer to move around the oven and one probe thermometer to poke my bread for internal temperature.    That is more than enough equipment.  ...and I have other things to double as cooling racks without having to buy extra.  

More often than not, there are plenty of objects in your cupboards than can double for baking without having to take over your cupboard space. 

I've sanded rolling pins too.  I've found that if they got wet, the grain would rise and become rough.  If you use the pin and don't like the performance and would like it smoother, take out a piece of fine sandpaper and make it smooth.  I have often sanded wooden spoons and tools before and after they were first used because ... well, it's typical behavior of wood to get rough after contact with water.  When thoroughly dry, sand, wipe off the dust and rub  with mineral oil.  Wipe off the excess the next day.  Makes things much easier to keep clean.  

The lady at work with too many pans sounds like the person to go to when you need to try something out and not sure what works best for you and your baking.  Then when you know what you want, find it or buy it.   Always ask if you should return the pan or form "washed" as many baking pans loose their non-stick function if washed too well.  Most clean up with just a wipe of dry towel.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

There's a person on this forum selling some actual Subway silicone loaf pans, used, if you want to order one from him.  He's got a link to a picture posted.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/31061/subway-silicone-bread-pans

 

baybakin's picture
baybakin

I'm a bit of a minimalist as far as equipment goes.  This is the bare minimum I keep around for bread baking

  • Half sheet pan (also used for transfuring bread to the oven)
  • Scale
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Baking stone (in oven)
  • Dough scraper
  • Parchment Paper

 

jkbff's picture
jkbff

I appreciate the replies and sorry I haven't responded, I've been moving stuff around my kitchen to make room for my mixer when it gets here...

As far as books that are directly related to bread/pizza dough, I have the following: Ciril Hitz - Baking Artisan Bread (10 Expert formulas for baking better bread at home), Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads (new techniques, extraordinary flavor), Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb (Master formulas for serious bread bakers), Peter Reinhart's artisan breads every day (fast and easy recipes for world-class breads), Peter Reinhart's American pie (my search for the perfect pizza), Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (Mastering the art of extraordinary bread) and Beth Hensperger's The Bread Lover's bread machine cookbook. I have many other books as well that dabble in baking breads and pizza doughs.

As far as stuff that you guys listed, since I was moving stuff around, I kinda took an inventory and I must say.. For being a single 25 year old male, I have A LOT of ... stuff... I found my marble textured dough maker sheet pan and roll pan, found an old old pan that I used for lasagna that is now holding extra utensils, I have a 14 pc stainless steel mixing bowl set, the zak bowls, OXO non-skid plastic bowl set that I got for opening a checking account, various glass mixing bowls that I forgot I had, 9x13 glass pans, my two half sheet pans with cooling racks to match, a box of parchment inserts the size of the half pans, my glass escali scale that I will probably replace with a rechargeable Taylor like I use at work, a few over sized cutting boards, a roll of 18" freezer paper (to make frozen sandwiches when I learn to make rolls) and my calibrated thermometer that I bought from Sysco a few years ago. I also have my Breadman Ultimate Plus... I have yet to have a box bread mix bake the same way twice in it. As far as the timers go, I have an old android phone that I put Tom's Multi Timer on that allows you to set up to 30 timers. The phone functions as a quick way to look at recipes as well. Oh, I forgot to mention, My oven is a Frigidaire Gallery electric glass top range with the speed bake fan in it.. 

As odd as this sounds, I live in a studio apartment, the kitchen ... has limited .. counter space.. I was using an old entertainment center as a pantry/lid storage/liquor cabinet.. What I was moving around was the entertainment center. I got rid of it because the cheap clips on the bottoms of the drawers broke from the weight of the 6 glass lids I put in them... I had a section of industrial steel shelving left that I hadn't put up and decided to put it up where the stand was because it would give me more counter space so I could set the mixer on it, and would give me more shelving space for my bake ware, small appliances and bins for flour etc. Basically what I had achieved was open-concept shelving that free'd up a lot of cabinet space to put food items back in the cabinets and bake ware/appliances on one shelving unit. I am looking to have a butcher block made for the top, its about 4'w x 24 3/4"d and it is exactly counter height.

The only things I really don't have would be the IR thermometer and the dough scrapers/bench scraper. I am a good eats freak and have been itching to get an IR thermometer. The scrapers, I keep thinking to add them to my food orders but always let it slip my mind... Other than that, I am looking to get bins to store bread flour, ap flour and semolina in... On that note, do you guys freeze your bulk flour, or keep it in sealed bins or what?

Thanks again for the replies and advice. I look forward to reading more.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I store my flour in the form of the whole grains, in 5-gallon buckets with gamma-seal lids.  I grind it on an as-needed basis in a grain mill.  This enables me to have a wider selection of flours than I would otherwise keep on hand, plus the whole grains that can be cooked as is, or in cracked or flaked form.  These latter two may require additional equipment depending upon the particular grain mill bought.

So there is an entirely new set of good-eats goodies for you to consider.  *wicked grin*

 

jkbff's picture
jkbff

Ok, so ... I have the intention of getting the grain mill after I get used to my KA when it comes, but I have the Cuisinart Compact Portable Chopping/Blending system (Got a magic bullet for Christmas one year, didn't like that it didn't have a lid to add while you were blending, took it back and got the Cuisinart on-sale and made money off the deal) and have been thoroughly amazed with its power.. I mention this cause, it can take the full blender vessel full of ice and make snow.. not crushed ice but snow... I can pulse the grinder cup about 10 times and have powdered sugar etc... So I'm kinda curious what it'd do with grains.. The only other appliance I've ever seen do the snow thing as fast and seemingly without strain is the blendtec blenders.

Hello, my name is Joshua and I am addicted to kitchen gadgets... 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I have a Vita-Mix blender that will grind grain.  It will cook the flour if you are not careful, but it does work.  Mine is one of the old stainless steel models.  The newer plastic models may be better adjusted for grinding grain.  You can also grind small quantities in a coffee grinder.  I used both of these methods until I got a manual stone burr grain mill.  I used the manual mill for a few months until my husband was convinced that I was going to continue to mill my own flour.  Then we splurged for the powered mill that I really wanted.  I'm not sorry to have bought the manual mill first.  It is a part of our preparedness supplies now.  As if we are going to be able to survive without civilization just because I can grind grain into flour, but hey ...

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

flour, sealed bins or what       also look under:      storing flour      and:   bulk flour      rancid flour    flour age    storing berries

and see what turns up.  It is often discussed but I think it comes down to how much flour  you use regularly, when you buy and  how much space you have to store flour.  :)

EvaB's picture
EvaB

try finding a chairity shop like the Salvation Army to buy any pans you don't have, they seem to have tons of kitchen stuff here, and its lots cheaper than buying new, and sometimes you luck out and get good cast ware, or other goodies at rock bottom prices and you help the less fortunate.

I have everything under the sun, and still go back to my stainless steel stuff I bought at Safeway when I started living on my own, it was cheap, and I bought 2 pizza pans, two cookie sheets, two jelly roll pans, and 4 loaf tins (4x8 inches for the loafs) wish I had bought more cookie sheets, but hey we don't know that much when we are young and stupid. I have cast ware from several places and more kitchen gadgets you can shake a stick at, but they are like the one lady said a pullman pan is good, but she only used it once or twice a year, unless you are baking to sell or for catering etc, plain old loaf pans just work fine. Oh yeah, I have pie tins as well, 2 stainless steel ones I got with the rest, and two or three others that came from my mother, and a couple more that I bought at the Sally Ann! Some were given to me those are china ones with fancy recipes printed on them. I have numerous cake tins, again 2 stainless steel ones from the kitchen ware in Safeway, and two with the little thing to run around the edge to loosen the cake, those were an afterthought and wish I had more of them. They aren't stainless steel though those are aluminum which I try to stay away from totally, and am not really fond of teflon coatings etc.

danthebakerman's picture
danthebakerman

I was just like you only about a year ago... (I'm a new baker too!) until I spent or inherited several thousand dollars worth of equipment....

I'd buy a digital scale first (personally) a lot of professional recipes like to use ounces, pounds, or grams instead of cups and teaspoons. 

I found out that a heavy-duty bowl set, rubber spatulas and bowl scrapers all probably tie for second place. 

And if you want to be really fancy.... checkout the "Brod and Taylor Foldable Bread Proofer". As far as my knowledge goes, it's the only home-style bread proofer available, and it works extremely well. (I have one, so I can speak from experience) 

Personally, what I do is make a mega-ultra-huge wishlist of EVERYTHING I want on Amazon (because they have nearly everything...) and then when I have the extra cash, I buy some stuff to slowly add to my collection. 

One Last Thing... If you quickly run out of cupboard space like I did, a wire rack from Lowes (about $60) will be a great investment!!!! 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I haven't kept up with responses so what I add might well be repeats. 

I love my Lodge cast iron pans for a 'regular' sandwich loaf.

I love my Pullman pans for taller loaves.  (USA Pan)

I love my mini USA pans for mini loaves.

I love my brotforms for my boules and batards.

I love my KoMo mill for milling my grains.

I love my DLX mixer for mixing everything up.

I love my Cadco convection oven with humidity for baking all of the breads I make.

I love my Escali kitchen scale.

I love my Kitchen Calculator for doing all the math when I convert formulas.

I love my baking stones.

I love my unbleached parchment paper.

I love my little plastic shower cap type of coverings I have to cover my fermenting doughs with.

I love my pails with Gamma Lids for storing my grains.

I love my Polder timer that I can wear around my neck.

I love my thermometer for testing my breads.  (ThermoWorks)

I love my homemade proofing box.

I am thinking my list could go on and on but these are the items that came to mind....The scary thing is is that I only began baking bread a little over 2 years ago and I had nothing then.....The only reason I have what I do now is that I read about most of it on this site....So beware and read with caution :-)

Have Fun,

Janet