I love sourdough. It’s the way bread was traditionally made. The health benefits of the fermentation process and the ingredients of flour, water, salt and levain make me love it even more. Once you start, it’s hard to go back to any other kind of bread, so proceed with caution! You can make delicious sourdough artisan bread with only a few basic kitchen items, but if you decide to make this bread a regular part of your life, it’s worth investing in a few essential tools for baking with sourdough that will make the sourdough process easier.
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Tools For Baking with Sourdough
To make delicious artisan bread, there are some kitchen tools you will want to make sure you have. I’ve grouped them into the following categories:
- Essential Sourdough Kitchen Tools
- Nice to Have (you may be able to use something in your kitchen instead)
- Not Necessary (but I love them anyway)
If you are going to spend the time to create or obtain a sourdough starter and make a beautiful dough, it makes sense to purchase or borrow a few of these items from a friend. Once you’ve made bread a few times you’ll decide if some are worth investing in. I like to do as much as I can without buying all the tools right away but now that I make sourdough bread weekly, these tools help my bread be the best it can be.
Essential Sourdough Kitchen Tools
Kitchen tools you need to make a loaf of artisan sourdough bread
A Digital Scale: Artisan bakers scale all of their recipes based on ratios and the percentage of the total flour in the recipe. Percentages are much easier to work with using the metric system and basing recipes on 1000 grams (or 1 kg) of flour. Recipes can be easily scaled down or up based on these percentages. People scoop flour differently and it can be difficult to give precise measurements in volume (cups). Do yourself a favor and grab a digital scale. I bet you will find other awesome uses for it in your kitchen other than weighing ingredients for bread. I bought mine from Costco but this one from Amazon looks similar and has good reviews.
A Sourdough Starter: Follow my guide for making a sourdough starter to make one from scratch. Alternatively you can find a friend who bakes with sourdough and ask for a little of their starter OR purchase one from Amazon or buy one from King Arthur Flour.
Mixing Bowl: you will need a big wide bowl for mixing your bread.
Bench Knife: I love my bench knife. I use it to separate dough all the time…and not just sourdough. You can use a big knife instead, though I do think a bench knife is worth investing in. This one is similar to the one I have. I bought mine at the King Arthur Flour flagship store if you want to look online there.
Dutch Oven: This is a must have in my opinion. For sourdough bread to get the dark, crispy crust and beautiful oven spring it is known for, it needs to have two things: plenty of steam in an enclosed place AND high heat that doesn’t fluctuate. A simple dutch oven, 6-7 quart size will solve this issue for a home-baker. I have an inexpensive one and it works great and I have some bread and potato pots I use for baking bread. I love these because I can fit two of them in one oven. Make sure you buy the shape you want to bake bread in–oval or circular.
Parchment paper: I use parchment paper all the time while baking. When I turn my bread out to score it, I do it on a piece of parchment, which makes it very easy to lift and put into my dutch oven when I am ready to bake. I love Costco parchment paper–not all parchment paper is the same, so be careful with what you choose.
Hot pads: You will be baking bread at a very hot temperatures and handling your dutch oven up to 500 degrees. Make sure you have really good hot pads to deal with the high heat produced by your oven.
Nice to Have Sourdough Kitchen Tools
I love all of these items, but you may be able to find a decent substitute for them in your kitchen
Mixing bowl or Plastic Container (for bulk rise): You will need a large bowl or plastic container for your bread to rise. The dough will be undergoing a series of stretch and folds during bulk fermentation and will puff up. I’ve used a large mixing bowl (even the same bowl as I mixed the dough in) but I also love using the plastic containers that have measurements written on the side. This is very handy for seeing exactly how much my dough has risen. I highly recommend them, though they are not completely necessary if you have two big bowls. I like this one for large batches of dough (it’s a fairly large container, in case you lack storage space). This one is good for smaller batches and fits a batch of my sourdough bread once risen.
Banneton Baskets: Banneton baskets are a traditional way to hold sourdough bread while it rises. It gives a circular or oval shape to the bread. I have also used small mixing bowls or tupperware with good success. If you are planning to make sourdough often, they are worth investing in. You will need one basket for each loaf of bread you make.
Bread Lame: I love a bread lame for scoring my sourdough loaves. You can make many beautiful designs which is part of the fun of baking the perfect loaf! If you don’t have a bread lame you can use a very sharp knife OR a razor blade. I bought this one and I have one from the Wire Monkey shop that I love.
Hair Nets: This is my favorite way to line bread baskets. The dough doesn’t stick to these hair nets and it turns out very easily. Another option is to use kitchen tea towels. I’ve even used paper towel before and it’s worked okay in a pinch.
Disposable Shower Caps: Another amazing trick is to cover your dough while it’s rising with a disposable shower cap. You can re-use the shower caps and it keeps the warmth. inand the bread moist. You can use plastic wrap if you prefer.
Thermometer: Temperature is very important to sourdough. Sourdough loves a temperature in the 75-80 degree range. Taking the temperature of your bread dough and ingredients with a thermometer will help you know to add warmer or cooler water and give you time ranges for when dough is ready.
Mini Spatula Scrapers: These are great for stirring down and feeding a sourdough starter or when mixing a levain.
…but I love them anyway
Danish Dough Whisk: This is not a necessity, but wow is this tool awesome! I used to get globs of dough all over my fingers when mixing my sourdough together by hand. This tool quickly and easily incorporates all the flour and water together and I don’t lose any of my bread dough down the drain because I can’t get it off my fingers. It is also very easy to clean. I bought this one and love it.
Rubber Dough Scraper: I like having this tool to help shape my dough, scrape the edges of my bowls, etc… I don’t think it is completely necessary, though, it makes the process a little easier. This is the one I have. It is very pliable and flexible.
Sourdough Discard Crock: I keep this in my refrigerator to add my sourdough discard to throughout the week.
Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer: This was my most recent splurge and I absolutely love it. A bread proofer keeps the dough warm (you set the temperature). This is especially wonderful for winter baking when my kitchen is cold. It folds up neatly too for when I’m not using it.
Sourdough Bread Tools For Non-Artisan Bread
The unique nature of artisan bread requires some of those tools. For sourdough bread that is not artisan bread, you’ll want similar tools that you may use for non-sourdough loaves of bread. Some of those include
Mixer: A KitchenAid or Bosch mixer is my favorite and I use them for different purposes. The KitchenAid is great for mixing cookie dough, cakes, whipped cream, frosting and one small loaf of bread dough. I love the Bosch for almost all my yeasted bread doughs and rolls. The Bosch has a larger motor and can handle longer mixes and more dough.
Bread Pans: These loaf pans are my favorite!
Baking Sheets: I love these baking sheets for cookies and rolls.
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