When you start baking bread from home, you really only need a bowl, your hands and of course something to bake or cook your breads with.
It’s always exciting to have new (and often useful) kitchen gadgets and pieces of equipment.
But you certainly don’t need much to bake delicious, fresh bread at home.
However… (you knew that was coming!).
When that first golden-brown, crusty, irresistible smelling loaf of bread slides out of your oven, you’ll likely be hooked on home bread baking.
And at which point, there are some useful pieces of equipment you could consider buying for your bread baking kitchen.
Read on to find out more.
1. Dough scrapers
Yes you can certainly use your hands or a spoon to mix up your dough.
And being able to feel the changes in your dough as you bring it together can be really useful.
But dough is sticky. And stretchy. As it should be!
So a dough scraper is the most useful tool you can buy when you start baking bread.
Flexible, durable and not just for helping mix up your dough.
You can use a dough scraper to scrape down the bowl, the work surface, even your hands.
A scraper can be used to divide dough for shaping. To help you knead a very wet dough. It can even be used to help you clean up after baking.
2. Kitchen scales
Bread recipes are a balance of just the right amount of flour, water, salt and yeast.
Too little water (or too much flour) can make a very different loaf from the one you planned.
And no-one sets out to bake a brick.
Plus ingredients such as yeast and salt are usually added in tiny amounts each time.
Having accurate kitchen scales – and more specifically digital scales – will help you measure ingredients to the nearest gram.
Ensuring you have the correct ingredients in each delicious loaf that you bake.
3. Metal loaf tins
Bread comes in all sizes and shapes – flat, round, tall, loaf, buns, twists and many more.
And many of these shapes can be made free-form – no need for a special baking tin.
But perhaps all you’d like is a traditional, straight-sided loaf.
Easy to slice for toast. Great for making sandwiches.
And for that, you’ll need a loaf tin.
As a bonus, a loaf tin is also very good at containing your dough – great if your free-form loaves sometimes split or burst open during baking.
Try to choose tins made with heavy-duty, thicker metal. They’re less likely to warp suddenly in the oven – which can knock the air out of your dough.
4. Shower caps
Yes, you read that correctly.
Shower caps are an essential piece of bread making equipment in my opinion!
Once you’ve kneaded your dough, you’ll need to leave it to rise.
And you’ll need to cover it well during that time.
You could use clingfilm or a tea towel to cover the bowl.
But shower caps make a great, re-usable alternative. Plus the stretchy elastic edge makes sure they fit snugly over the bowl.
You could go all out with a (clean, unused!) number. Or buy a pack of clear, re-usable plastic shower caps and wash and dry them between bakes.
5. Cooling racks
Your bread making isn’t finished the minute your loaf comes out of the oven.
However tempting it is to dive into your freshly baked bread – stop!
Cooling your loaf is a final key step to baking a great loaf of bread at home.
And this is where a cooling rack can really help.
Remove your baked loaf from the tin, or slide it off the baking tray. Place it on the cooling rack and cover loosely.
The cooling rack allows air to circulate, stopping your loaf going soggy.
6. A baking stone or pizza stone
Bread is usually baked at high temperatures – more than 200C (400F).
However, that heat is usually coming from something that’s not in direct contact with your loaf – for example the gas flame or oven element.
The direct heat of a pre-heated pizza stone or baking stone in contact with your bread will help you get an even better bake on your loaf.
Either place your dough in the tin directly onto the stone.
Or slide the baking paper with your shaped dough carefully onto the stone.
This is most easily done using a baking tray with no lip/edge so that the dough slides straight off.
7. Bannetons or proving baskets
Have you ever wondered how some bakers get those beautiful straight-line patterns, or swirling circles, on top of their loaves?
They come from the pattern of the banneton, or proving basket, used to rise the dough in.
Bannetons are usually made from compressed cardboard or wicker.
They can be plain or have a basic pattern.
They’re great for supporting wetter doughs, such as sourdough loaves, as they rise.
Bannetons usually come in 500g (1lb) or 1kg (2lb) sizes – indicating how much dough can fit in.
You don’t bake bread in the banneton – you need to gently tip the risen dough out onto a baking tray first.
Then dry and brush out the banneton before storing. You can find out more about using bannetons here.
Want to learn to bake more delicious, crusty fresh bread at home?
Join one of my relaxed, friendly online classes and learn to bake everything from baguettes to ciabatta, cinnamon rolls, a sourdough loaf and much more.
Classes last around an hour and guide you step-by-step through baking the bread.
No previous experience required.
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