One of the corollaries of staying at home is that for many of us, our kitchen is seeing more action than ever. Somehow baking has taken shape as a modern form of therapy, the meditative process of mixing and kneading feels calming, and as studies like the one published by the Journal of Positive Psychology shows, small creative projects leave people feeling more relaxed and happy in their everyday lives. Another study published by the US National Library of Medicine saw that people with more cooking skills have a greater sense of mental well-being.
Whether you’re thinking of baking bread or have already been at it for the last couple of weeks, we’ve put together a list of 11 tools that will help you finesse your craft. Having the right tools can make a world of a difference, especially when it comes to the precision required for baking bread. Outlined below is a guide to the bread baking tools that you need, and how to use them.
You may have already heard the saying that baking is a science, and it’s the formulaic precision that makes it so. When you’re measuring your ingredients, be it flour, water, or butter, it’s always more accurate to go with its weight in grams.
Using a kitchen scale will improve the accuracy and consistency of your baking. It’ll always come in handy when you’re portioning dough out for recipes that call for loaves or rolls. Plus, having this around the kitchen will easily save you from having to clean a set of measuring cups and spoons.
This is an often underrated tool that is multipurpose and exceptionally versatile. You might currently be using your kitchen knife for most of your baking processes, but a bench scraper easily cuts through butter, bread dough, and even finished baked goods.
Using a bench scraper instead of a knife is especially important when it comes to portioning out your bread dough, as it will cut through (instead of stretch) the existing gluten strands in your dough. Its blade efficiently works on your countertop, so it saves you from the hassle of transferring your baking process to a cutting board or dulling your kitchen knife against the countertop. And when you’re not baking, it works just as well to scoop up the ingredients from your cutting board to your pan.
Of all the baking pans to get, the loaf pan is possibly the most versatile option. Especially if you’re looking to bake more sandwich breads, savoury loaves, and sweet loaves that could almost pass as a cake. No matter the function, you’ll need a sturdy loaf pan to get started as they lend the ideal shape.
They’ll also help distribute heat evenly, that way you won’t have to worry about one side of the loaf being under-baked and the other being burnt. This is the ideal vessel of choice no matter where you are in your baking journey.
A good mixing bowl matters. You could very easily use whatever bowls you have on hand, but if you’ve been baking with them you likely would have noticed that your dough has proofed way past the rims of your bowls, or you don’t have enough bowls in the size you need.
When proofing your bread, a good mixing bowl should be deep enough to give your dough enough room to expand. Even when you’re just mixing your ingredients, you want a bowl that’s lightweight and grips easily. Stainless steel bowls are easy to handle and won’t break. And since metal is a good conductor of heat, you can always use your mixing bowl when you need a double boiler for your chocolate or dulce de leche.
Your oven, no matter the model and latest additions made to it, will always be slightly wrong about the temperature. Every oven is different, and you might have noticed it too. Maybe your last tray of muffins needed an extra 10 minutes than the recipe indicated, or maybe your loaf of bread got a little too brown even though you left it in just as the recipe said.
It’s a universal discrepancy, and it’s often why recipes will also have indicators to tell you to look out for a golden-brown crust or prick a fork in it to make sure it comes out clean. Having an oven thermometer saves you the trouble of all that and adds more reliability to your oven. It’ll give you the accurate temperature, and help you stay true to the recipe.
If you’ve already gone through all the effort of shaping and baking your bread, then you should only finish just as strong. A serrated bread knife will evenly and easily (the latter being the most important) slice through your fresh loaf.
A good serrated knife will cut through your bread with ease and leave you with as little crumbs as possible, look for one with a larger serration. As a tip, turn your loaf sideways and cut it like so if you want a perfect slice. Use it for cakes, chocolate chunks, and outside of sweets, you can even use it for savoury ingredients like tomatoes, lemons, or limes.
A bread maker is dependably one of the easiest ways to make your own bread at home. It saves you the time you would otherwise need to proof, knead, and diligently watch and bake the bread.
We recommend the Mayer Bread Maker, as it requires the most minimal attention to process, just put your ingredients in there and one hour later you’ll have bread ready for the next few days. You can easily customise it to your family’s liking with its 12 baking functions, and pick how well-done you’d like your crust to be. Plus, it makes for easy no-fuss cleanup. Available exclusively on the Mayer e-store.
If you want to take your bread from home-baked status to neighbourhood french bakery esteem, then you should consider adding a lame to your list of tools. A lame, meaning blade in french, is a razor-like tool that’s used to score bread right before it goes in the oven.
Beyond an aesthetically pleasing finish, it also helps control where the dough steams and expands in its baking. You could definitely use your kitchen knife, but if you want to take it to the next level, a lame will provide more precision.
Otherwise known as baker’s baskets, this is the secret to the subtle rings of an artisan loaf. Functionally, proofing baskets are designed to help keep and give your bread that final shape during its last proofing process before it goes in the oven.
It’ll also yield a higher rise and keep your bread from being too dense. This is an addition to consider if you’re baking loaves on a weekly basis and want to improve on your craft.
There’s a reason why the dutch oven is so highly lauded as a piece of kitchen equipment, you’ll see it in almost every well-stocked cabinet, and plenty of recipes will call for the assistance of this kitchen essential. A good dutch oven will conduct and retain heat, which makes it perfect for baking bread.
Using a dutch oven can help hold a high temperature when you’re baking bread, which gives a perfect crackly golden crust and will also contain the steam released by the bread to keep it soft on the inside. The Lodge six quart dutch oven is the ideal size to start with.
A splurge that is worth its weight in gold, a stand mixer is often found in a baker’s kitchen. It takes the work out of mixing and kneading, cuts down on your preparation time, and is built to last. If you want a lifetime investment, then a stand mixer should be at the top of your list.
The Bosch kitchen machine is the ultimate combination of every essential kitchen gadget in one, from creaming your butter and sugar with its whisk function, kneading your dough with its hook attachment, to shredding and grating your hardy vegetables for savoury dishes and blending your morning smoothies.