Sourdough for Beginners

7 Sourdough Tools to Make You a Bread-Baking Pro

updated Apr 14, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

The beauty of baking sourdough — especially in the midst of extended at-home confinement — is that it doesn’t take much to get started. And so, in recent weeks, a growing number of newbies have stepped into the science-y world of sourdough, eager for the soothing smells of yeasty, homemade bread. Of course, there are also plenty of others who’ve inhabited the sourdough world for a while now. No matter how old (or young!) your starter happens to be, here are seven tools that will take your bread baking to a whole new level.

Get the recipe: How to Make Sourdough Bread

Credit: Amazon

1. Proofing Baskets

When you’ve mastered the open, airy crumb and tangy flavor of home-baked sourdough, but the shape of your loaf is awkwardly oblong, you need a proofing basket. The coiled baskets — also called bannetons or brotforms — come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Leave the linen in for smooth loaves that won’t stick or take the lining out and the basket’s pattern will show through.

Buy: 9-Inch Proofing Basket, $27

Credit: Dot & Army

2. Linen Bread Bag and Bowl Cover

One sign of a well-baked sourdough loaf is the crunchy-chewy crust. Sealing baked and sliced loaves in a plastic bag traps moisture causing the crust to soften. Instead, store them in linen bags to maintain the bakery-quality crisp crust. You can also get a linen bowl cover for covering mixing bowls of rising dough.

Buy: Linen Bread Bag and Bowl Cover, $24 at Dot & Army

3. Lame

You’re supposed to score your dough to give steam an express escape route and technically any sharp blade will do the trick. But! For crisp cuts and intricate incisions, invest in a lame — a straight or curved blade made specifically for scoring bread.

Buy: Black Walnut Handle Bread Lame, $35 at Williams Sonoma

Credit: Amazon

4. Revolving Cake Stand

Looking to improve upon your bread designs? Take a tip from pro bakers and use a cake stand. The revolving turntables typically used for piping buttercream can also spin risen loaves while slicing patterns with a lame.

Buy: Ateco Revolving Cake Stand, $52

Credit: Amazon

5. Bread Stencils

Stencils are cool again! (When it comes to bread at least; probably not in terms of those faux ivy borders that everyone had in their kitchens in the 90s!) Dust flour or cocoa powder through delicate cut-outs and be rewarded with intricate patterns baked onto your tangy loaf.

Buy: Güden 4-Pack Bread Stencils, $10

6. Proofing Box

If you’re an avid fan of The Great British Bake Off, you’re probably jealous of the proofing drawers tucked under each island. But you can have your very own. This proofing box maintains optimum heat and humidity for professional results and it even folds flat for easy storage!

Buy: Brod & Taylor Folding Proofer & Slow Cooker, $170 at Williams Sonoma

7. Bread Pan

Dutch ovens are the workhorse of the kitchen, and are a key to bakery-style bread at home. The heavy material maintains heat and traps steam, but enamel-coated Dutch ovens can crack when preheated. Beginner bakers hone your skills with inexpensive uncoated styles. Advanced bakers, though, should consider this cast iron model made specifically for bread baking.

Buy: Challenger Bread Pan, $295 at Challenger Breadware

Do you have any of these things at home already?