"To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first. "
- William Shakespeare
The idea of baking sourdough bread which is a type of bread that requires long-winded steps of making the starter might seem daunting but contrary to belief baking artisan sourdough at home can be done with a few essential tools. No, you don’t any fancy, high-grade equipment, all you need are the right tools, most of which you’ll either have in your kitchen or be able to track down easily online. So whether you’re new to breadmaking or you’re a baker looking to expand their horizons, here are twelve must-have tools for baking scrumptious sourdough.
1) Tubs for your starter :
Since the starter is the first step to making sourdough, the first thing you’ll need are tubs with lids with lids for holding your starter. It really doesn’t matter what kind of container you choose – it can be a glass container, a plastic Tupperware or whatever else you have on hand at home. In fact it’d be best to go the inexpensive route and pick something that’s small and doesn’t take up much space in your refrigerator. The only thing you really need to keep in mind regardless of which type of tub you choose is to write the weight on the bottom.
2) Scales :
Speaking of weight, no baker can begin their journey without a food scale. Especially when baking something as precise as sourdough, it’s vital to measure ingredients by weight rather than volume so invest in digital kitchen scale.
3) Measuring cups :
Just as important as the scale, measuring cups are a necessity to transfer your ingredients from one container to the next without losing some of its volume to spillage.
4) Deep tubs for mixing the dough :
Make sure to have a 6-12 quart tub to mix and fold your dough as well as hold the weight of your dough when it rises. Pro tip, round mixing tubs are the best choice since there are no corners for the ingredients to get trapped in. However, if you’re unable to find a deep bowl with these specifications just try to similar sized container at home – just make sure it’s food grade and with a lid.
5) Dough Scraper :
This inexpensive tool is a must-have for not only unsticking the dough from your countertop but also for doing a quick clean-up of the cooking surface while prepping ingredients for a recipe.
6) Razor blade :
Scoring the top of your bread is a step that allows your air to escape and also adds a rustic look to your loaf. A good quality razor blade is great for slashing your dough before baking.
7) Proofing baskets :
These are baskets known as banneton baskets which hold shaped loaves of bread during their final rise called proofing. The interior of these baskets are lined with flour so that dough releases easily and they also help the bread to rise upwards rather than spread out in the final rise. You can either purchase very specific baskets such as ones that help reduce the dough’s moisture or you can simply choose to use any medium-sized bowl lined with a flour dusted tea towel.
8) Tea Towel :
Though it may not seem like it, a tea towel is a very important part of the sourdough making process because you’ll need something to cover your dough while you’re stretching it as well as after you have shaped the loaves. Pick any light-weight, inexpensive tea towels you might have at home for this.
9) Cast Iron Dutch Oven :
This is the priciest equipment you’ll need throughout the process but it’s an investment that’s worth your money because of how versatile and practical they are for baking bread. Baking bread in a preheated Dutch oven is what gives you that artisan-looking loaf. If you’re only starting out go for 4-quart oven that’s relatively affordable yet high quality.
10) Digital Kitchen Thermometer :
An instant-read thermometer is an important addition to your types of tools to make sure you’re using the right temperature water and measuring the final mix of ingredients. It’s also useful when checking if your loaf is cooked. Tip : a fully cooked loaf will typically read between 210-212F on the inside.
11) Oven mitts :
Don’t step into your baking journey without a reliable, durable pair of oven mitts which can handle grabbing onto a 500F Dutch oven.
12) Parchment paper :
Another essential for a baker, parchment paper is a multi-purpose addition to your kitchen must-haves that can be used for everything from lining your baking pans to drying your excess starter on.
Take a look around your kitchen and it’s highly likely you’ll have most of these essential tools at your disposal and for the ones you don’t, they are generally a worthwhile and often budget-friendly investment that will accompany you throughout your breadmaking journey. So is it time for you to start on your sourdough?