8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (2024)

Tools to streamline your bread-baking

  • A simple silicone sling: Rosehill Sourdough BreadMat
  • Score loaves like a pro: Wire Monkey Goose Lame
  • A starter home upgrade: Challenger Breadware Starter Jars (Set of 2)
  • Bulk storage is the best storage: Large-format flour containers

A simple silicone sling: Rosehill Sourdough BreadMat

8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (1)

Our pick

Rosehill Sourdough BreadMat

The best bread mat

If you bake in a deep-walled vessel like a Dutch oven, the BreadMat is the best way to get scored bread into it without creating a doughy disaster.

Buying Options

Buy from Rosehill Sourdough

Many sourdough bakers bake their first loaves in a Dutch oven. These vessels are effective and often already part of the kitchen arsenal. But a Dutch oven’s high sides make it difficult to transfer dough in without burning yourself on preheated steel or messing up your carefully executed scoring (more on that below).

Parchment paper can make a decent sling, but the Rosehill Sourdough BreadMat is a cheap, endlessly reusable solution that I vastly prefer. The 9-inch round mat is equipped with long ears on either side, making it easy to lower your loaf into a Dutch oven and pull it out post-bake without endangering your fingers. The silicone stays cool to the touch, even when it’s just come out of a 500 degree Fahrenheit oven, but it doesn’t interfere with the loaf’s browning or oven spring.

The BreadMat comes in a variety of designs—including versions with longer handles and one made specifically for the Challenger Bread Pan—but most people will be perfectly fine with the original.

Score loaves like a pro: Wire Monkey Goose Lame

8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (3)

Our pick

Wire Monkey Goose Lame

The best bread lame

Elegantly carved from black walnut, this lame provides fine control over slashes and can produce surprisingly delicate detail work.

Buying Options

$48 from Wire Monkey

Scoring bread—slashing your loaf with a blade so it rises in a predictable way as it bakes—is an underappreciated art. It can be done with a straight razor or a kitchen knife, but if you use the right tool, you’ll have better control, which makes the task a lot easier and more repeatable. A good lame can be the difference between a loaf that looks like a volcanic eruption and one with a beautiful ear.

I’ve tested a lot of lames (pronounced lahm, from the French for blade), and my favorites come from Wire Monkey, which claims to have invented the now-iconic UFO lame. Wire Monkey offers a wide range of lames, but my go-to is indubitably the Goose, which places the blade at the end of a long, curved, elegantly carved wooden stick.

Like all of the company’s lames, this one is carved from beautiful hardwood (black walnut, in this case), which makes it feel like an heirloom you’ll cherish for years to come. Wire Monkey sells a care kit to help you keep your lame in good shape. But the same basic wood-care principles we recommend for cutting boards apply here, as well.

The Goose comes with a slide-on magnetic blade cover made of the same wood. It also includes a five-pack of Astra blades to get you started (though any standard double-edged razor blade will work fine).

Ditch the Dutch oven: Brød & Taylor Bread Steel and Baking Shell

8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (5)

Our pick

The best baking steel for bread

Thinner and lighter than many baking steels, this one preheats quickly and still delivers enough heat to create a crackly crust.

Buying Options

$69 from Amazon

If you want to bake more than just boules, you’ll eventually need to move beyond a Dutch oven. A baking stone or steel is a much more flexible solution, since its much larger area is amenable to everything from batards to baguettes.

Kitchen specialist Brød & Taylor’s Bread Steel is a particularly thin and light take on a baking steel. At just 0.1 inches thick and 5.6 pounds, it’s a lot more maneuverable in your oven than the ⅜-inch-thick, 22-pound Modernist Cuisine Baking Steel we recommend in our guide to pizza stones and baking steels. It’s also easier to store in a cabinet, if you prefer to take it out of the oven between bakes.

If you’re used to thicker steels, you might be worried that thin steel won’t transfer enough heat. (I know I was.) But in practice, it works perfectly well: After a 30-minute preheat, it can create a beautifully blistered, crispy crust. The Modernist Cuisine steel takes a full hour to preheat to the point where it would create the same crust, as does my cast-iron Dutch oven.

Our pick

The best bread cloche

This aluminum cloche pairs perfectly with Brød & Taylor’s bread steel, trapping steam to create a crackly, golden crust. It can also be used with any other stone or steel.

Buying Options

$100 from King Arthur Baking Company

Steam is an essential part of the bread-baking process; it promotes a good rise by keeping dough pliable, and it produces beautiful blisters on the crust. A Dutch oven traps steam by default, since it comes with a lid you can leave on at the start of the bake and remove later for browning. But if you use a stone or steel, you need to find a way to ensure your bread doesn’t dry out prematurely. That’s where a cloche comes in.

Cloches are traditionally made from ceramic, which works great. But a more durable, lightweight alternative is the aluminum . Like the company’s bread steel, this cloche is designed to be ultralight (1 pound 2 ounces), and it has a convenient knob on the front so you don’t have to struggle to remove it from the oven mid-bake. Its dimensions (12½ by 8 by 5½ inches) make it especially suitable for batards and demi-baguettes, but it could work for smaller boules as well.

Despite its lighter weight, the Brød & Taylor shell is just as effective at trapping steam and transmitting heat as a Dutch oven. Each time, my batard comes out beautifully blistered and crispy. And as it cools on my kitchen counter, I can hear the crust continue to crackle from several rooms away.

A starter home upgrade: Challenger Breadware Starter Jars (Set of 2)

8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (8)

Our pick

Challenger Breadware Starter Jars (Set of 2)

The best sourdough starter jars

These jars are easy to clean and have clear volume markings to help you track the progress of your starter’s rise.

Buying Options

$35 from Challenger Breadware

A sourdough starter can live happily in basically any vessel, but not all jars are ideally suited to repeated filling, fermentation, and emptying. For a long time, I used wide-mouth, straight-sided Mason jars, gently screwing them closed to let fermentation gasses escape but keep everything else out. They worked fine. I also briefly used the Insta-famous Weck jars, which are basically an easier-to-clean take on Ball jars. But then I got Challenger Breadware’s Starter Jars and never looked back.

Here’s why: The Challenger jars are straight-sided and (crucially) untextured, so they’re easier to clean than the embossed Ball and Weck jars. And the bamboo lids are friction-fit with silicone gaskets, allowing them to breathe (and even pop up a bit) when the fermentation hits the ceiling. They also have helpful volume markings, which allow you to keep track of how much the starter has risen since you fed it.

Fine-tune your fermentation: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer and Slow Cooker

8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (10)

Our pick

The best bread proofer (that can also cook a mean stew)

This proofer will keep your dough at the perfect temperature for bulk fermentation, and it collapses nearly flat for storage. It also comes with a handy carrying case.

Buying Options

$219 from Amazon

$220 from Sur La Table

If you live in a temperate climate—or have central HVAC—fermenting bread usually isn’t much of a challenge. You can just plop your bowl on the counter and wait. But if you live somewhere very cold or dry, you’ll need a way to keep the dough in the right zone while the yeast does its work.

There are plenty of products out there that can do this, but for this piece, I tested out the Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer and Slow Cooker.

The Folding Proofer is what it says it is: a collapsible box with a built-in heating element that can maintain a steady temperature between 70 and 195 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level between 60 and 80%, thanks to a built-in water tray. (It doesn’t have the ability to cool, though, so if your ambient temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s your floor.) In addition to bread, it can be used to make yogurt, and it even works as a slow cooker—just put a pot of stew in there, and cook it low and slow for as long as you like.

In my testing, the Folding Proofer reliably kept a steady temperature, and it did make proofing times more predictable. I appreciate how compact it becomes when fully collapsed, which allows me to slide it into a cabinet vertically, alongside my cookie sheets.

For my sourdough starter, I also tested the Sourdough Home, which you may have seen Instagram breadfluencers championing. Essentially a repurposed makeup fridge, it’s able to heat and cool, to keep your starter in the perfect window and help you control how long it takes to become perfectly ripe for baking. But while I can confirm that it does exactly that, the process is still more fussy than I personally want to deal with. (I’m not someone who’s prepared to feed their starter every day or even every few days.) It’s also yet another thing that’ll take up space on your kitchen counter.

For years, I’ve simply kept my starter in the fridge, and over time it’s become powerful enough that it can go up to a month between feedings and bounce back in a couple of days to make beautiful bread. Is it living its best possible life? Probably not: More regular feedings would most likely produce more consistent fermentation results. Would the Sourdough Home help it get there? Indubitably. Do I think it’s something most bakers need? Definitely not. But if you get joy from fine-tuning every aspect of the fermentation process, give it a look.

Bulk storage is the best storage: Large-format flour containers

8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (12)

Our pick

Rubbermaid Commercial Space-Saving Square Food Containers

The best way to store bulk flour

These containers are designed for restaurant kitchens, so they’re super-sturdy, and they come in sizes ranging from 2 quarts to 22 quarts. The 18-quart option is perfect for holding 25 pounds of flour.

Buying Options

$11 from Amazon

$15 from Home Depot

Also great

Cambro Square Food Storage Container, 18 Quart

The best way to store bulk flour

Cambro containers are similar to our Rubbermaid pick. And these containers are similarly made to last and come in a ton of sizes.

Buying Options

$37 from Amazon

If you bake a lot, like I do—say, five to six sourdough loaves a month, plus pizza dough, cookies, and other baked goods—you’d be smart to buy flour by the sack. I get my bread flour from Costco, where a 25-pound bag of Ardent Mills flour costs less than $10.

But once you have that glorious pile of gluten, where to store it? Like any food product, flour is sensitive to moisture and oxidation, so keeping it tightly sealed is preferable to simply rolling the bag up after you scoop out what you need. I work through a sack of bread flour in about three months, and a good container has no trouble keeping it fresh during that time.

Personally, I like to use Cambro containers, just because my wife has a bunch from her time in professional kitchens. They have flexible, plastic lids that form a tight seal, and their flat bottoms stack well.

In our guide to dry food storage containers, we recommend Rubbermaid’s commercial containers, which are similar. They beat out Cambro containers in our tests because their lids fit more tightly (that means they also require a little more hand strength to open and close). And, unlike the Cambros, the Rubbermaid containers’ smallest sizes have handles. And they share the same footprint as the larger sizes, so they’re more easily stackable (and nest-able when not in use).

Regardless of which brand you go with, these containers come in a wide variety of sizes and round and square formats. I have containers as small as 1 quart and as large as 22 quarts.

An 18-quart square Cambro container (with lid) and a Rubbermaid container (also with lid) will both hold 25 pounds of flour just about perfectly. And both companies also make trash-can-sized ingredients bins on wheels (Cambro, Rubbermaid), if you prefer to go that route.

This article was edited by Marilyn Ong and Marguerite Preston.

8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game (2024)


8 Tools to Level Up Your Bread Baking Game? ›

A lame is used to score (also called slashing or docking) bread just before the bread is placed in the oven.

What are the 8 steps in bread making? ›

  1. Step 1: Scaling Ingredients. Scaling, otherwise known as measuring, means portioning your ingredients in the quantities required by a recipe. ...
  2. Step 2: Mixing. ...
  3. Step 3: Bulk Fermentation (first rise) ...
  4. Step 4: Folding. ...
  5. Step 5: Dividing. ...
  6. Step 6: Pre-shaping or Rounding. ...
  7. Step 7: Resting. ...
  8. Step 8: Makeup and Panning.

What are 5 tools or equipment used in the bread recipe? ›

The Tools of Bread Making
  • Scale. If you're a beginning baker then I'm sure most bread recipes you've been exposed to have been in volume measurements i.e. 2 cups flour, 1 cup water etc. ...
  • Instant-read Thermometer. ...
  • Notebook. ...
  • Mixing Bowls. ...
  • Bowl Scraper / Dough Divider. ...
  • Loaf Pan.
Jul 11, 2012

What is the tool called that scores bread? ›

A lame is used to score (also called slashing or docking) bread just before the bread is placed in the oven.

What are the 10 basic steps to making yeast bread? ›

These are the 10 stages of yeast production:
  1. Scaling the Ingredients.
  2. Mixing and Kneading the Dough.
  3. Fermenting the Dough.
  4. Punching Down the Dough.
  5. Portioning the Dough.
  6. Rounding the Portions.
  7. Shaping the Portions.
  8. Proofing the Products.
Apr 23, 2012

What tool is used to slice bread? ›

A serrated bread knife is extremely important when cutting into bread. “You want to cut a loaf of bread like you're cutting a tree.

Do you need a bread whisk? ›

And while the dough whisk was designed for mixing bread doughs, it's equally effective when mixing all sorts of thick doughs or batters, including those for cakes, muffins, pancakes, crêpes, and soufflés, because it's one of the best tools to use for folding.

What is best to bake bread in? ›

I like to use a 4 or 5-quart Dutch oven or a 3.2-quart combo cooker for baking bread. These sizes are large enough to accommodate most bread recipes. If you have a larger Dutch oven, that will work just fine, too.

What are the items for bread? ›

  • Flour. Wheat is grown in many parts of the world. However, flour made from `hard` wheats such as those produced in North America is higher in protein/gluten. ...
  • Yeast. Yeast requires moisture, food and warmth for growth. ...
  • Salt. Salt is an essential ingredient in bread. ...
  • Water. Water is used to produce the dough.

What is important in baking bread? ›

Small differences in the amount of water, yeast or salt can make a big difference to your finished loaf. Too much heat will kill the yeast, so don't prove it in a very hot place, and use water that is warm rather than hot. Test the water with a clean finger – it should be about body temperature.

What tool is loaf pan? ›

A bread pan, also called a loaf pan, is a kitchen utensil in the form of a container in which bread is baked. Its function is to shape bread while it is rising during baking. The most common shape of the bread pan is the loaf, or narrow rectangle, a convenient form that enables uniform slicing.

What tool is used for rolling out the bread? ›

Rolling Pin

A rolling pin is a baking staple, which means you might already have one in your kitchen. Rolling pins flatten your bread dough to a perfect, even layer. Regular wood tapered rolling pins work well for baking bread, but you can always go with a marble option as well.

What is a lame in bread? ›

A clean, confident score across the top of the dough with a bread lame (essentially, a razor blade affixed to a handle). The bread lame (pronounced “lahm”) is a key tool for bakers, though not every baker is dedicated to which one they use.

What are the 12 principle steps of bread baking? ›

The 12-step process of bread baking involves: 1) scaling ingredients, 2) mixing and kneading dough, 3) fermentation for yeast growth, 4) deflating and punching down dough, 5) scaling dough pieces, 6) rounding dough balls, 7) benching dough for resting, 8) shaping dough pieces, 9) proofing final rise, 10) baking bread ...

What are the 7 steps in the baking process? ›

  • Melting of Fats.
  • Formation and expansion of gases.
  • Killing of yeast and other microorganisms.
  • Coagulation of proteins.
  • Gelatinization of starches.
  • Escape of water and gases.
  • Crust formation and browning.

What are the 10 steps of straight dough method? ›

  2. Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Alow to stay 8-10 minutes until bubbly.
  3. Add Flour.
  4. Combine milk, sugar, oil and salt. Stir until the solids dissolve.
  5. Knead on floured board until smooth.
  6. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin. ...
  7. place dough in space bowl. ...
  8. cut into desired shapes.
Oct 24, 2020

What are the 10 stages of baking? ›

  • Fats melt. Fat droplets spreads through product, moistens and tenderizes product by coating starch.
  • Gases form. ...
  • Gases are trapped. ...
  • Microorganisms form. ...
  • Starches gelatinize. ...
  • Proteins coagulate. ...
  • Water evaporates. ...
  • Sugars carmelize.

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