The Fresh Loaf

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If you could get one and only one piece of (small) baking equipment, what would it be?

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

If you could get one and only one piece of (small) baking equipment, what would it be?

When I first got into baking bread, I resisted the temptation to buy a lot of specialized equipment because I wanted to make sure I'd stick with it long enough to justify the expense. Nearly a year later, it seems like a hobby that's here to stay and I feel like it's time to invest.

I currently have no bread-specific gear. I mix by hand, score with a chef's knife, and bake either in a Dutch oven or on a regular old sheet pan. I'm mostly interested in baking sourdough and rye breads, so I should probably get a piece of equipment that'll help me with that. My kitchen is also tiny and I don't have room for something like a stand mixer. I'm leaning toward something like a banneton or a lame, but I'm open to most possibilities.

So. The question I pose to you all is this:
Given the above information, what one piece of equipment would I get the most use out of/benefit from buying?

EDIT: I do already have a digital scale.

MichaelLily's picture

But instead I will give you a short list of the things in which I invested.  I would make 20-40 loaves on a weekend about once a month, so bear that in mind.

Bench knife ($3.85)

plastic scraper (about $1)

Cloth-lined baskets (~$3.50) or bannetons (~$8) from Lucky Clover

Bread lame (~$10 from Breadtopia)

When you get into viennoiserie and croissants and such you will want a huge honking rolling pin.


Colin_Sutton's picture

Hi Imightbemary,

If I had to play by the rules and have just one item, it would be the very best linen lined cane banneton I could afford from France.  My selection would be based partly on wanting something specialised that made me feel very much like a serious bread baker.

I have several inexpensive bannetons, but the swanky one from Mora in Paris is that one that makes me feel like a "pro" when I use it.

Best wishes and happy baking! Colin.

dabrownman's picture

knife and a thermometer can be a thump on the bottom of a loaf and a DO can be a SS mixing bowl or a pot turned over and a stone can be two jelly roll pans with some rocks between them  I would say no need to spend a dime and if you do spend - do it at Goodwill.  I bought all of these things there for pennies on the dollar. 

doughooker's picture

Anything that will act as a banneton/brotform to contain the dough while proofing. Even a right-sized bowl will do.

A piece of Mozart linen (flax) to line the banneton/brotform/bowl.

I have never spent money on a fancy lame.

As Colin says, spending a few dollars on a couple of accessories makes you feel like you're really a serious baker.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Higher tech (& more expensive) - a good digital scale

Lower tech (& less expensive) - a good plastic bowl scraper

That said, a cane banneton is fun. Makes your bread look pretty like the pictures. :)

KathyF's picture

A good scale.

doughooker's picture

Digital scale is an excellent answer. I've come to call them "drug-dealer scales".

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

People get all worked up about free pans and Dutch ovens, but after trying lots of things, my cloche is the easiest, makes the best loaf, and single best home bread investment I made

Ru007's picture

,but for me, what i use the most is my bench scraper (for really wet dough which i love) my scale!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would go for a dark, long narrow and high bread pan.  Steam can be trapped inside like a DO using two layers of aluminium foil.  My other favourite is my digital spoon scale for measuring salt and spices.

foodslut's picture

To give you my scale of baking, I bake about 5-8 lbs dough every weekend -- no sourdough, but a mix of boules, batards and baguettes/epi.

If you have the room, a decent, not-horribly-expensive scale and some inexpensive bannetons (I've linked to what I use) would be one way to go.

A lame is nice to have, not must have if you're getting decent results with a knife.

Let us know what makes your short list -- good luck!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I find these are the perfect sized mixing bowls.  I have the 12 quart size as well, and those are perhaps a little easier for mixing but a tad too big in my opinion.


imightbemary's picture
imightbemary (not verified)

I think I'm going to go with a banneton. I'm always envious of the beautiful loaf shapes people get when they use one