Ever since I worked in a bakery six years ago and got bit by the baking bug, I’ve been baking bread and other treats at home multiple times a week. But I also often do it for work. Recently, I wrote an in-depth piece about stone-ground flour, which required baking six loaves of sourdough in one day. Currently, I’m testing a folding proofing box and have made 48 dinner rolls and six loaves of sourdough thus far.
While these baking projects only require a short list of simple ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast or sourdough starter), there are a few key pieces of equipment that make the process of making bread (and lots of it) easier, less messy, quicker, and more failproof.
Here are the three tools that have leveled up my bread baking.
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1. A (Very) Large Mixing Bowl
One way to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to baking is to make a big batch of dough that produces two loaves of bread. You’ll spend just as much time on it as you will for one loaf, but you’ll get double the bread.
But mixing a large quantity of flour and water in an average mixing bowl can get messy (even if you’re only making one loaf). Mixing your ingredients in a roomy mixing bowl makes it easy to use your hands to thoroughly incorporate everything together and even gives you enough room to knead the dough in the bowl as well. It also minimizes mess, containing splatters of flour and water.
Vollrath Economy Stainless Steel Mixing BowlsThe broad, shallow shape of these inexpensive bowls put food within easy reach and allowed for wide turns of a spatula. These were also the lightest bowls in the lineup, allowing us to comfortably lift, scrape, and pour.
Bannetons (also called proofing baskets) help give the dough structure as it proofs. This is especially useful for high-hydration doughs, which otherwise might lose their shape without the help of the banneton.
They’re lightweight and made out of nonstick materials such as rattan or wood pulp, or come with cotton or linen liners. They’re the perfect size for a 1-kilogram loaf.
Breadtopia Oval Bread Proofing Basket and Oval Proofing Basket LinerThis oval rattan banneton was great for proofing stiffer, lower-hydration doughs. When coupled with its cotton liner and properly seasoned, it easily released wetter, higher-hydration doughs.
3. A Lame
A lame is essentially an ultrasharp razor attached to a handle that allows you to make that score with precision and control. It also makes your loaf look really nice too! The thin, sharp blade creates neat cuts that enable you to create a more intricate, attractive design if desired.