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Equipment for great bread


hosinmigs
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Hey all,

Working on improving my bread skills. I'm now thinking of upgrading my equipment list to hopefully make things a bit better. I realize that you can make pretty great bread at home with minimal tools, but I was wondering what everyone's opinions were of the required equipment.

Obviously we can assume an oven, etc. But aside from that, what are the top needs? For example, do I really need a special loaf pan for baguettes?

Thanks.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

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Required:

1) Digital scale that is accurate to 1 gram

2) Instant read thermometer

3) Flexible bowl scraper

4) Bench scraper

Push come to shove, nice things to have are:

1) Pizza stone / unglazed quarry tile

2) Stand mixer (like a KitchenAid)

3) Serrated knife or lame

Purely for show:

1) Banneton / Baguette pan

2) Linen towels

3) Cloche

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I would suggest a rectangular pizza stone to go into that oven.

Even though I have one, I don't think a baguette pan is necessary. I like making free-form shapes, boules, batards and baguettes and baking them directly on the stone.

Of course, as with all hobbies, the more 'toys' you have the more fun it is!

Bob R in OKC

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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Required:

1) Digital scale that is accurate to 1 gram

2) Instant read thermometer

3) Flexible bowl scraper

4) Bench scraper

Push come to shove, nice things to have are:

1) Pizza stone / unglazed quarry tile

2) Stand mixer (like a KitchenAid)

3) Serrated knife or lame

Purely for show:

1) Banneton / Baguette pan

2) Linen towels

3) Cloche

The scale is by far the most important....Mine broke, and the thought of doing my usual 12 loaves without it, was overwhelming...Just got my new one before I ran out of bread.

A shallow old cast iron pan to put below the stone, so you can put a cup or so of hot water in it is good.Along with a spray bottle for a bit of water on the loaves.

Bud

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Good advice. It's interesting how much crap they sell getting people to believe it's required.

I'm surprised no one even mentioned a proofing box - homemade or otherwise.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

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I'm surprised no one even mentioned a proofing box - homemade or otherwise.

Isn't that what microwaves are for?:raz:

Although they are limited in capacity, depending on the model (and your ingenuity).

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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A few more items that are important when I bake bread:

- A large bread board or other smooth surface for kneading and shaping bread. Even if you do most of your kneading in a KitchenAid, it's nice to do a little handkneading at the end to ensure your dough is the proper texture.

- A peel of some kind to get that bread from board to oven and out again. I get the bread off the peel and into the oven most easily with a floured wooden peel. But it's easier to pick up the baked bread and take it out of the oven with a thin metal peel. I use a rimless cookie sheet for a metal peel. Something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Anolon-Commercial-Ba...5801750&sr=8-41

- Well-insulated oven mitts, especially if you'll be working with a 500 degree oven.

- Pyrex loaf pans if you are going to do any pan bread. You can see thru the pyrex how golden your crust is becoming.

- Parchment paper. Shape the bread on the parchment, let it rise, and transfer the bread (still on parchment) onto a baking sheet or even a heated stone in the oven. Handy if the dough is too wet and unmanageable to slide off the peel (and believe me, I've been there).

ETA: By parchment paper, I mean silicone-treated baking parchment paper.

Also, large sturdy cooling racks are important equipment, if you don't have any yet.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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No one has said 'oven' yet!

I've made pretty decent bread in what in the UK would be called a 'combi' oven (fan/grill/microwave) using fan only.

But I do think that lack of reliable temperature control and excessive temperature drop when opening the door and adding (cold) stuff makes life less fun.

Hence the one thing worth spending significant money on is a decent oven.

And after your successful IPO, the cost of a real brick oven won't seem like "significant money"... :cool:

For 'steaming' the oven, a ratty old (even chipped) post-retirement cast iron pan makes more sense to me than a hand-spray water mister.

But an oil sprayer is a nice luxury, whether for the bench, the dough, mixing bowls or loaf tins...

As are some shakers for different flours (and a means of recognising them!)

A mixer is only needed for large batches of dough - and others might disagree even with that or say things like "50lbs isn't large". This is a matter of one's personal opinion.

For 'large but not actually commercial' quantities, the Electrolux DLX/"Assistent"/"Magic Mill" seems able to handle more dough than other domestic mixers. And rather well.

A 1g digital scale is pretty much essential. And can be cheap yet perfectly good. Use the 'tare' function to make life easy!

Some sort of oven 'stone' is also important. I want to upgrade my pizza stone to something thicker and using the oven space better - but one must remember to allow for air circulation around the stone -- don't fill the full width and depth of the oven and expect to avoid compromising the flow of heat (and combustion air in a gas oven).

Its a good idea to get a few hemispherical plastic mixing bowls that are *identical* (at least in size and shape, if not colour) and which will stack into each other for neat storage. Having clip-on lids (all the same size!) for them, to prevent the dough drying out while it sits around, does simplify things considerably. This is such a cheap luxury that I'm amazed how long it took me to work it out!

Now, about something equally cute for storing (and identifying) several types of flour...

And if you are like me, you'll keep on looking forever to find a scraper that actually fits your hand and both feels 'right' and works... :biggrin:

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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When I bought my digital scale, a pastry chef cautioned me to buy one where you can easily see the numbers even when a big bowl is being weighed. Some scales are designed so that you have to scrunch down and look around the bowl to read the weight. That was a good piece of advice.

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Good suggestions all. Thanks. Jeff, I like the squirt bottle. So simple, but yet important. I cheaped out and bought the 99 cent version. It stinks. I'll have to invest in something else, I think.

I'm curious what Reinhart has to say about this. I seem to recall he goes through some of this in Apprentice. I'll have to check it out.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

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Now, about something equally cute for storing (and identifying) several types of flour...

I like the Cam-Square bins for flour -- larger for AP and wheat, smaller for specialty flours. I found them at a local restaurant supply place, where I could see how much they'd hold. They all fit nicely into the pantry bookshelf, down from the cookbooks.

-jon-

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For baguettes, and otherwise baking at home my list is a little different:

Large bowl or dump bin

Snapwrap or damp linen towels to cover same

Decent working surface, at least a large pastry board but wood is also good

Digital scale

Digital thermometer

Graduated mixing jug

A warm (27C) place

For baguettes make or improvise a couche (folded floured linen)

For miche and other large loaves make or improvise a banneton to give support during proof

Refrigerator wtih enough space to retard your loaves

For baguettes a flipping board, the length of your oven plus a handle

For other loaves a peel

For baguettes a pizza stone to give bottom heat

For other loaves a large cast iron casserole with lid or equivalent

cooling racks

Lame or craft knife to score

Pastry brush

Squirt bottle

A copy of Dan Lepard's "Hand Made Loaf"

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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