Check out this list of the 17 best bread-baking tools that will definitely help you make and bake your best sourdough loaves.
While none of them are absolutely necessary, people always ask me what the best bread-baking tools are.
Humans have been baking for about 10,000 years and especially in the early days, I am sure they did not have a lot of equipment.
However, it is nice to have a thoughtful collection of the right tools that will help your bread-making, especially sourdough bread.
Keep reading to learn about my favorite tools. I will also give you an indication if this is a “must-have” or a “nice-to-have”. That way you can easily compile your own list.
Container for your sourdough starter
I am sure most of you enjoy making sourdough breads. Therefore, you need a container for your sourdough starter (if you don’t have one, check out my super easy method of how you can make your own sourdough starter). Technically, you can use any jar you like. But I highly recommend Weck jars. Not only are they see-through and non-toxic (versus plastic), but they also come in a variety of sizes. Better even, you can choose between the standard glass lid and the newer wooden lids. I even have a detailed post comparing Weck jars with mason jars.
Grain Mill to make Flour
Unless you buy flour, you will need to mill your grains. Especially, for my German whole-grain sourdough bread, I prefer to mill the whole-grain flour the morning I actually bake the bread. There are many grain mills to choose from but I recommend and use a Mockmill. You can either get a stand-mixer attachment or a stand-alone grain mill. Regardless of the model, Mockmill grain mills are very high quality and will last you a lifetime. If you are not sure about which model is best for you, you can read my Mockmill grain mill review for more information.
There are different recipes for different types of bread. For my German whole-grain sourdough bread, I have never used a kitchen scale. However, if you are new to bread baking or would like to follow an exact recipe for that perfect loaf, having a digital kitchen scale is essential for consistent results. Volume measurements are so much less accurate than weight measurements. Luckily, a digital scale is very affordable and will last you a long time.
Buy a digital kitchen scale
Good Mixing Bowls
Now that you have your sourdough starter and flour, you will need to mix the dough. Thus, you will need a good mixing bowl. I have been loving an enamel bowl since it is very light and non-reactive. But even a set of good stainless steel bowls will work just as well. Sometimes, people love using vintage wooden dough bowls (you can find them on Etsy for example).
Who doesn’t love a good wooden spoon? I know, I do and I have a lot of them in various sizes. I have some pretty small ones that I often use to stir my sourdough starter and bigger ones for mixing the dough. As a side note: people often ask me if it’s ok to use metal utensils with sourdough. The short answer is: yes! You do not have to worry about the acidity of the sourdough starter reacting with the metal, especially if you’re only stirring it for a short amount of time.
Danish Dough Hook or Wire Whisk
Both of these are newer inventions. Whether you use them or not is mostly a matter of preference. I have used Danish dough hooks, wire whisks, and wooden spoons and find them all useful. The first two My recommendation is to go with the tools you like the most.
Electric Stand mixers
For years, actually decades, I have been mixing my bread doughs by hand. But there are instances in which it’s nice to have a stand mixer. Older people or home bakers with arthritic conditions will love that they don’t have to do any mixing by hand. As you will see in my popular no-knead artisan bread, you don’t have to do a lot of mixing. But there are recipes where it really helps the development of the gluten structure to do some slow mixing with the dough hook. It can turn your very sticky dough into a uniform one that’s easy to handle. Even though I don’t use them to bake bread, I have had 3 different Kitchenaid stand mixers and have loved every single one! And I love the fact that I can use my Mockmill grain mill attachment on my Kitchenaid.
Beeswax Wrap and Fabric Bowl Covers
Now that you have mixed your bread dough, it will need to rise. You want to protect it from (dust, pet hair, flies, or whatever) and also keep it from drying out. I am not a fan of using plastic wrap. Instead, I like using my homemade reusable bowl covers or DIY linen beeswax wraps. I use them individually and sometimes I use them both together!
Bowl Scraper and Bench Scraper
Most homemade bread doughs need another proofing or rise. That means that you might have to transfer the dough from the bowl onto a work surface. Here a plastic dough scraper can really help get all of the dough out of the bowl. For some recipes, you want to do the final shape of the loaf. For that, using a bench scraper can be an essential tool.
Bread Basket or Banneton
Especially for round or oval breads, doing the final proof in a proofing basket is both nice and necessary. It ensures that the loaves retain their shape. You can either use them with or without the cloth insert. For best results, you’ll want to dust them with rice flour. You could even use any medium bowl you have and line it with a mesh or plastic shower cap or even a tight-weave kitchen towel.
Verdict: must-have (for certain types of bread)
For other types of bread, you will need to do the final rise in a loaf pan. My German whole-grain bread is one of those. I really don’t like using anything with a non-stick coating. The good news is that there are cast-iron loaf pans or glass loaf pans. I love using the latter! Using a pastry brush, I simply brush the inside with oil or butter. Below, I will give you an alternative to that.
Verdict: must-have (for certain types of bread)
While not strictly necessary, you can score the top of the bread with a more or less fancy design. Of course, you could just use a very sharp knife or simple razor blade but using a bread lame will just be a whole lot easier.
Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
If you are letting your bread rise in a proofing basket, I recommend baking it in a cast iron combo cooker. The initial steam ensures a good oven spring. Then you’ll want to remove the lid for a nice crispy crust.
I absolutely love lining my loaf pans will parchment paper. First of all, I can easily remove the bread but more than that, there is literally no cleanup. If you’re baking your bread in cast-iron, you can use parchment paper to lift the bread into the hot Dutch oven without burning yourself.
Wire Cooling Rack
Once your bread comes out of the oven, you will want to cool it on a wire rack. Otherwise, the bottom of it will become moist and soggy. I know it’s very hard but most people recommend you wait to cut your bread at least until it has completely cooled off. In some cases, you’ll even want to wait for 24 hours!
While people have been breaking bread in former times, we nowadays prefer to cut it. A serrated bread knife is the perfect tool for cutting your loaf of bread into slices. I have had the same one for over 30 years and it’s still sharp! I don’t think they make this very one anymore but I will recommend a similar one.
Since we’re on the topic of cutting the bread, you’ll want to have a nice big cutting board. I actually recommend a wooden one because they tend to be more anti-bacterial than plastic cutting boards. And maple or walnut are the best types of wood for keeping your bread knife sharp.
Other tools worth mentioning:
Here are some more options that I don’t consider essential tools but I will mention them anyways. They might be really helpful for some home bakers:
- Bread machine: I have never owned one so I can’t speak from experience. I think the biggest drawback for me is that I really want to see and feel the dough. Also, you will not get pretty shapes with breads baked in bread machines.
- Thermometer: I have never needed a thermometer to determine if my bread was done. If you are completely new to baking it can be useful to measure the internal temperature to check the bread for doneness (at about 190˚F).
- Baking stone or steel: these can come in handy if you are baking your bread without a loaf pan or cast-iron dutch oven. They can also function is a pizza stone.
What about bread baking kits?
Those can be very economical and a great idea. Depending on what you have and what you need this might be the best option. This sourdough bread making tools kit is a good starter pack.