Many people already have some of the equipment they need to bake a loaf of artisan-style bread: a big bowl, a spatula, measuring cups and spoons, a dish towel that’s not nubby (also known as a tea towel), and a Dutch oven usually used for things like stew.
Here’s a list of the basic equipment needed for baking artisan bread at home. For many of these items you may be able to repurpose things you already have in your kitchen, and other items you might want to invest in. We’ve also included a list of supplemental equipment that we love dearly and recommend you look into when you become a dedicated home bread baker.
A dough mixing bowl that’s 3.5 – 4.5 quarts in size allows you to stir ingredients vigorously without spilling, and you’ll have enough room to do gluten development and for the dough to double as it rises. Mixing Bowls
Bowl and basket covers are inexpensive and save you from wrangling with plastic wrap. Another option is to use and re-use a clean plastic grocery bag to encase your entire bowl or proofing basket. Bowl Covers
|MEASURING CUPS AND SPOONS
You’ll need measuring cups and spoons to measure ingredients if you don’t have a digital scale. Measuring Cups
|FLEXIBLE SPATULA or DOUGH / BOWL SCRAPER
A flexible spatula or dough scraper helps you keep the sides of your mixing bowl and starter jar clean. This reduces your dishwashing time, keeps dough out of your plumbing, and helps you see what’s happening in your jar or bowl. Dough Scraper and GIR Combo Scraper and Bench Knife
|BENCH KNIFE / SCRAPER
Use a bench knife to divide and shape dough, and to transfer dough to your proofing basket, loaf pan or couche. When it’s time to clean up, use it to scrape flour and dough bits off your work surface. Bench Knives
|PROOFING BASKET / BANNETON / BROTFORM
Proofing baskets keep your dough in its desired shape during the final proof. They work well with or without a fabric liner and need to be floured to prevent the dough from sticking. A repurposed alternative is to use a colander (some airflow) lined with a heavily floured tea towel. Here’s a selection of round, oval, and oblong Proofing Baskets.
|ENCLOSED BAKING VESSEL
An enclosed vessel such as a Dutch oven or a clay baker is ideal for baking artisan style bread in a home oven. The vessel traps the steam created by the dough as it heats up, and this steam allows the crust to expand during the first part of the bake before setting and getting it’s characteristic hearth-loaf crispness. Baking Vessels
Pan loaves can be made from sandwich bread recipes or simply by baking your regular artisan bread recipe in a loaf pan at a lower temperature. Some people, kids especially, prefer this style of bread, and having a well-constructed, non-stick metal pan makes the process easier. Most loaf-pan recipes on Breadtopia use the medium size of these Bread Loaf Pans.
If you are planning to bake with sourdough, use a clear glass jar for storing sourdough starter. You can mark the level of the starter just after feeding with a rubber band, and observe the expansion and aeration of the starter through the glass. Choose a jar with a wide opening to make feeding your starter easier and less messy. Sourdough Starter Jars
Supplemental Equipment (nice to haves)
in order of how much I wanted to put them in the list above
Use a rack to maintain airflow around your cooling bread. This prevents condensation and keeps the crust crispy. Cooling Racks
You can weigh ingredients with a scale, which is especially helpful for flour and sourdough starter as they have inconsistent volume. You can also multiply recipes more easily, e.g. Breadtopia’s Whole Grain Sourdough Pizza recipe makes four pies. If you want five pies, just multiply the ingredient weights by 1.25. 600g flour x 1.25 is easier to calculate than 4 2/3 cups flour x 1.25. You’ll also have fewer measuring cups and spoons to wash. Kitchen Scales
Dough hydration, oven variations, and scaling a recipe up and down all impact how quickly your bread bakes. Being able to check the internal temperature of your bread helps determine when it’s done baking. Moreover, some recipes like this Naturally Leavened Christmas Panettone recommend a particular dough temperature to ensure good fermentation, and knowing your dough temperature can help you predict fermentation time in any bread. Thermometers
|COUNTERTOP GRAIN MILL
If you enjoy whole grain baking or you like to combine whole grain flours with refined flour, a countertop grain mill gives you the freshest, most flavorful, and nutrient-packed flour. Home milling with a Mockmill produces very fine flour and lets you have on hand numerous varieties of whole grains. Countertop Grain Mills
Scoring (cutting the surface of your dough before it goes into the oven) directs the force of the dough’s expansion during baking, and a razor blade with a handle, called a lame, helps you score all sorts of patterns much more precisely than using a kitchen knife. Lame
|DANISH DOUGH WHISK
Mixing starter and dough is a breeze with these uniquely shaped whisks. The small whisk fits in most wide mouth jars to easily manage the mixing when feeding your sourdough starter. Danish Dough Whisks
|DOUGH RISING BUCKET
A straight-walled container makes tracking the fermentation of your dough much easier, and buckets stack and store nicely in cupboards and the refrigerator if you’re doing a cold fermentation. Dough Rising Buckets
|OVEN / PIZZA STONE
Oven stones and steels open up the world of baking baguettes, ciabattas, pizza, and miches (large boules). These breads don’t fit inside most enclosed baking vessels, but oven stones offers a similar high thermal mass to help bake up airy and crispy breads in the oven (often paired with a tray of water for steam). Oven Stone
If you like baking baguettes and ciabattas, a linen couche is helpful for holding the doughs’ shape and preventing sticking during the final proof. Linen Couche
A stand mixer can be a great investment if you find yourself mixing up large batches of dough or multiple batches of dough back to back. Also if you work with enriched doughs that are messy and need a lot of gluten development, a stand mixer can be whipping the dough around while you’re cleaning up or measuring out the next set of ingredients. Stand Mixers