An essential guide to walk you through the wide variety of sourdough bread baking tools. Pick those, that fit your needs, goals and help you to get the most out of your baking game...
After a decade of bread baking with the only “tools” I had in my kitchen, I realized what difference professional tools can bring into my baking routine. How greatly they affect the quality of the bread at the end!
Some bakers have been making amazing bread for years without fancy tools. Others have decided to bring a bit of a “bakery” type of feeling to their kitchens and used different tools. Both are right. I was the first type of baker for a long time. Only after accidentally trying some tools at my friend’s kitchen, I realized that my baking routine might have been much easier and joyful.
Have you ever counted how much time you spent on trying to remove sticky dough from your spoons and spatulas used for making a dough? Countless! I laughed after trying a danish whisk for the first time. The whole mixing process was a breeze, the dough didn’t stick to it, and cleaning took less than a minute.
Only now I realize how much time I wasted along the way without having those tools.
In this article, I would like to share with you a list of the bread-making tools I currently use and love. These are the game-changers and absolutely essential tools in my kitchen.
Enjoy the reading!
Banneton Proofing Baskets
Sourdough making process is an art that develops over years of experience. Proofing the dough is the part of it and it is always nice to have at least one banneton basket on hand. Traditional banneton baskets are made from natural rattan and intended to absorb the moisture from the surface of the dough. Later it becomes the crust in the oven. Banettons are only used for proofing the dough, not for baking.
There are two common shapes of banneton baskets: round banneton basket (boule) and oval banneton basket (batard).
How to use it? Once your dough goes through the warm proofing stage and it is time to shape the loaf - remove the liner from the banneton basket and dust the basket with rice flour, semolina, or cornstarch. They will work perfectly fine and prevent the dough from sticking to the basket. Put your shaped dough into a banneton seams side up, cover and leave for 12-14 hours for cold fermentation in the fridge. Next morning (assuming you left the dough overnight for cold fermentation) - flip over your loaf on parchment paper and bake. That’s it. Super easy!
Quick note, removing the liner is up to you. If you aim for a smooth surface and plan to decorate your loaves using bread lame then use a cotton liner that comes with your basket. I prefer to use banneton without a liner because I love to score my bread over those beautiful patterns that bannetons leave on the dough after fermentation.
Banneton baskets do not need much maintenance. After you’ve done the proofing, knock out any remaining flour. Let your basket dry on the counter, and then store it in a dry place. If you happen to have some dough stick to your banneton - let it completely dry and remove all dry particles using a stiff brush. If you are using banneton along with the liner, keep an eye for mold. Always let liners and baskets dry before storing them again.
Dutch oven is a staple in any kitchen. The secret of having the most beautiful, golden crust on your sourdough bread loaf - is using a dutch oven. Keeping the lid on during the first 20 minutes in the oven gives that loaf much needed humid environment. You will get a good rise from the dough and awesome crust.
Regular kitchen ovens do not bring the desired results, causing the top of the loaf to become too thick and hard. Dutch oven will solve the problem. It keeps the moisture evaporating from the loaf and creates its own steamy environment. Once the initial baking stage is over (first 20 minutes), uncover the pot to release the steam and let the bread bake for the rest of the time.
Bread Scoring Tool (Bread Lame)
Have you seen those scrumptious-looking loaves? If you want to give a try on perfecting your art at bread scoring, you need a bread lame. Scoring the bread gives it that unique artisan look and flavor. When I started making my own sourdough bread I wanted to create a fancy, luxurious look on my loaves. Using only a sharp knife was not giving me the results I wanted. Bread lame allowed me to express myself. My young daughter tries her hand on scoring the loaves too and sometimes we even fight over it! Luckily we found the solution - she works on design, and then I score the bread. We are both happy!
Bread scoring is so addicting. Whenever I start the dough we immediately put a plan on the future designs and can’t wait to start scoring it.
Danish Dough Whisk
Danish dough whisk, which is called "brodpisker" in Denmark is one of the most useful tools I can’t imagine myself starting the dough. My sourdough baking adventure started from this tool and I am so happy about it. Ironically, this was the least important tool I thought I needed until I got one and realized how useful it is! Danish dough whisk blends mixtures very efficiently. It makes the whole process of mixing faster and easier. What really surprised me - it is so easy to clean, since the batter doesn’t stick to it! Putting your Danish dough whisk under the running water is usually enough to keep it clean. Remember not to immerse the wooden handle in water.
A dough scraper is very useful once your dough goes through the fermentation process and ready for the next stages.
Using the dough scraper you can stretch and fold the dough in case it is stickier than usual. It does a great job scraping the dough out from the mixing bowl and cleaning the working surface after shaping the loaves. You can find different types of scrapers on the market that are useful for different tasks. I am using a plastic one - it is lightweight and easy to clean and store.
If you love making baguettes - you have probably heard about baker's couche. The couche is a large square of stiff cotton/flax cloth used for holding dough in a baguette shape. The fabric absorbs excess moisture from the surface without drying the dough. You make folds in the fabric and arrange your shaped dough within the folds. Stiff fabric will maintain the shape and prevent your baguettes from sticking to one another as they proof. Baker's couche can be a great alternative to a baguette banneton baskets, especially when it is hard to find those long shaped baskets on the market due to irregular size. Using a baker's couche for baguettes will give you the same great results without arranging larger space for banneton baskets. Baker's couche can also be useful for lining proofing baskets if you don’t have banneton liners.
Do you aim for consistent results, right? An accurate kitchen scale for measuring ingredients is vital, especially when you work on a sourdough bread. As you become more experienced, you will know what flour/water ratio brings the most perfect bread texture and hydration. Skipping this part will most likely lead to inconsistent results without room for improvement. You will not be able to replicate that perfect loaf you recently made. It is very important to have a good quality kitchen scale for your sourdough baking.
I will not talk a lot about the kitchen thermometer since we all can find it in almost every kitchen nowadays. The quality kitchen thermometer is as important as an accurate kitchen scale. For anyone who wants to understand the right temperatures and have consistent results - this tool should always be on hand.
I hope you got an initial feel on what tools you might need to start making the best sourdough bread in the world at home.
And last but not least, these are not the tools that make our bread perfect - our love and hard work do. Having these amazing helping gadgets is always a great idea. The right attitude, patience, trial, and error - are the keys to sourdough baking success.
Happy baking, friends!
Hi should I wash or rinse the bowl before I use it the first time?
Hello Janice, welcome to our friendly baking community! Thank you for your comment. 🍞 Please checkout our sourdough starter recipe here – https://happysourdough.com/blogs/happy-sourdough-blog/sourdough-starter-recipe. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We’ll be happy to help. Have a lovely day!
how do I find directions to make the sourdough starter?
Ana from Happy Sourdough here. Thank you for your comment!
All our baskets come with cotton liners already. You can purchase a Round 9" Banneton basket here – https://happysourdough.com/products/9-round-banneton-bread-proofing-basket. Alternatively you can purchase our 11" Oval Banneton basket here – https://happysourdough.com/products/11-oval-banneton-proofing-bread-basket.
Is there a way to purchase a basket line separately from the combination packages? I want to baskets and a liner for each. Thanks