As many know, baking sourdough bread is a more involved process compared to your average loaf. From maintaining a starter to creating the perfect environment for proofing to perfecting the final bake to achieve that signature, crusty exterior, there are many steps where the process could go awry. However, with the right arsenal of tools at your disposal, the baking process can become immensely easier. Whether you are a beginning baker looking for a full baking kit for sourdough or an experienced master looking to upgrade your current equipment, our list below comes with all the necessary pieces to help you capture the perfect bake every time. Read on for our 5 best tools for making sourdough.
1. Weck Canning Jar
Starting at the very beginning, the first and most basic tool all sourdough bread bakers will need is a good container to maintain their bread starter. Although some amateur bakers may decide to use something handy from their cabinets as a container, a starter jar requires a few characteristics to get the best results.
- Clear – Glass is always a good option when it comes to bread starters. This will allow bakers to easily see how much the starter has expanded and also check for hooch or other telltale signs it needs feeding.
- Large – A starter may begin small, but needs plenty of room to grow. A good rule of thumb is to choose a container that will allow the starter to expand up to four times its initial size.
- Sealable – The starter will need to be covered and uncovered frequently. It is best to select a container with a lid that is effortless to remove and replace as needed.
2. Baking Kit for Sourdough Bread
For bakers new to sourdough, it is best to gather all the basic tools together to help you succeed. To equip you with all the best tools for making sourdough bread, be sure to try this 5-piece baking kit for sourdough, complete with all you need to get started. Some key items this kit contains are:
- Dough Whisk – A must-have item for those that value efficiency and ease, this dough whisk is made to tackle thick dough. This whisk is not only designed to avoid clogging when mixing heavy batters, but it will also make the dough mixing process three times faster than using a regular spatula.
- Bread Lame – Bread lames are what separate beginners from advanced bakers. This stainless steel scoring tool will allow bakers to make precise, clean cuts in the dough that turn ordinary loaves into masterpieces.
- Bread Knife – A basic but essential tool, a bread knife will assist in the most important step of baking: eating it! This serrated blade will make cutting through the particularly crusty exterior of sourdough bread much easier.
3. Digital Scale
Although it may not come as part of any beginner baking kit for sourdough, all bakers should have a digital scale on hand. Weighing ingredients using a scale is much more accurate than measuring via cups and spoons. Sourdough bread can be fussy, so using exact measurements while baking will greatly increase the chances of success.
4. Banneton/Proofing Basket
As all sourdough bakers know, the proofing rounds for making a tasty loaf are critical to success. Although in a pinch, a homemade proofing basket can be used, all serious bakers should have a banneton. These proofing baskets are some of the best tools for making sourdough bread. When searching for the right basket, be sure to keep a few things in mind:
- Size – During the proofing phase, the sourdough will grow. Much like the starter container above, be sure to choose a basket with plenty of space for the dough to expand. No one wants a case of dough overload.
- Style – Bannetons come in several styles and shapes. Although the proofing shape (circle, oval, triangle, etc.) is based on user preference, the material the basket is made from can affect the final product. Be sure to study the pros and cons of each basket type to select the right style for you.
5. Room Thermometer
This list of best tools for making sourdough would not be complete without a room thermometer. Throughout the baking process, and especially during proofing, the temperature the dough is resting at can determine how well the final loaf comes out. Monitor and maintain consistent room temperatures with an easily placed, hanging thermometer.