Essential sourdough baking tools and kitchen utensils for those beginning their sourdough journey include sourdough starter containers such as glass mason jars, good digital scales, a dough whisk, a banneton or proofing basket, dough and bench scrapers, a stainless-steel mixing bowl, and a Dutch Oven. These are my essential sourdough baking tools.
If you’re just starting to bake sourdough bread, take comfort in the fact that you don’t need to invest a lot of money in expensive kitchen equipment to make sourdough. That was a myth perpetuated during the sourdough backlash last year. In fact, if you cook and bake and already have a well-equipped kitchen, you probably have all the essential sourdough baking tools you need.
The only things I didn’t have in our Siem Reap kitchen when I first started baking sourdough seriously a few years ago was a Dutch Oven and a banneton or proofing basket, however, I was able to procure a banneton from Lara’s basket collection and I’d always intended to buy a Dutch Oven eventually.
The Dutch Oven was a great investment, because I not only use it every few days to bake sourdough, we use it for roast chicken and I use the lid to make my Dutch Oven pizzas. It’s definitely worth investing in a good Dutch Oven if you don’t already own one.
If you are new to sourdough baking, do take a look at my comprehensive sourdough guide, which covers everything you need to know about baking sourdough. Before I tell you about the essential sourdough baking tools you’ll need if you’re just embarking on your sourdough journey, we have a favour to ask.
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These are my picks of the sourdough baking essentials you’ll need to make your life easier.
Essential Sourdough Baking Tools and Equipment Kitchen Utensils to Make Your Life Easier
Below you’ll find the essential sourdough baking tools and equipment that I think you need to make your sourdough baking life easier, beginning with kitchen utensils that are handy for making and maintaining your sourdough starter, followed by sourdough baking equipment and kitchen tools.
Sourdough Starter Container
Perhaps the most essential sourdough baking tools you’ll need are your sourdough starter containers. Because you can’t bake sourdough without a sourdough starter, which will live in these jars. I used to use glass mason jars with a plastic or rubber seal and the airtight metal clamp system. I eventually found these just too much maintenance when needing to clean a jar. The more you get into sourdough baking, the more you want to streamline the process – and the clean-up. The problem with that type of mason jar is that once you get sourdough starter in the metal rings that secure the lid, the jar is a nightmare to clean. To avoid this mess, you need to scoop the starter from the mason jar, which wastes time. Also, those containers have glass lids, which are great for jams and preserves, but given that if you’re just loosely putting the lid on, they can easily break. Now, I just use the regular mouth mason jars with rounded bases, below. I keep three in rotation: one for white bread flour, another for a mix of white and wholewheat flour, and a spare when I need to transfer one of the starters to a fresh jar.
OUR PICK FOR SOURDOUGH STARTER CONTAINERS FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
A set of good digital scales is another one of the most essential sourdough baking tools you’ll need as sourdough bakers need to measure ingredients down to the gram – including liquid ingredients. If you’re still using Imperial measures, now’s a good time to convert to grams. It’s far more practical when it comes to sourdough baking – particularly if you’re going to be scaling recipes. Get a scale with a big base too, so that you can read weights when you have a huge bowl on it to weigh out your dough. You may also need a ‘jewellery scale’ which can more accurately measure small amounts in grams, such as for salt and dry inclusions such as herbs, if you’re going to be baking sourdough with inclusions.
OUR PICK FOR DIGITAL SCALES FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
I have to confess that I wouldn’t have said that a dough whisk would be one of the most essential sourdough baking tools until the first time I found that my flour, starter and water were not fully incorporated. This whisk, often called a Danish dough whisk is used to help incorporate the flour and water together evenly and it’s absolutely brilliant. If you’ve ever used a regular whisk to try this, I hope someone else is doing the drying up.
OUR PICK FOR A DOUGH WHISK FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
Dough and Bench Scrapers
These dough and bench scrapers are two of the most essential sourdough baking tools you’ll need and a set of these make good practical gifts for sourdough bakers just starting out. There are two different types of scrapers. The first is a rubber or plastic dough scraper that you use to help mix your dough as well as scape dough down the side of your bowl. This is also a handy tool for scraping down the sides of your electric mixer bowls when making a dough. The second is a metal scraper that can be used to separate large amounts of dough into portions to be weighted, as well as to use as an alternative to using your hand to manipulate wet dough that would stick to your hands. These scrapers are also great for getting stuck dough and flour off your kitchen bench or counter.
OUR PICK FOR DOUGH AND BENCH SCRAPERS FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl
A good, heavy-duty stainless steel mixing bowl is another of the most essential sourdough baking tools you’ll need. A heavy mixing bowl sitting on a damp towel is the best way to mix the dough and fold the dough. It won’t move around while you’re mixing and it won’t lift off the bench while you’re doing a stretch and fold during the dough strengthening stages. Stainless steel mixing bowls are also very easy to clean with stainless steel scouring pads when you have baked-on dough – something you won’t want to do with a vintage enamel Pyrex mixing bowl.
OUR PICK FOR A STAINLESS STEEL MIXING BOWL SOURDOUGH BAKING
A dredge shaker is another essential sourdough baking tool which will make your life easier. A dredge shaker is mainly used for salt, pepper and icing sugar, but it’s absolutely perfect for the rice flour I use when I’m shaping a sourdough loaf, lining my proofing basket, and dusting a loaf when I’m creating a pattern on the sourdough loaf before it goes in the oven. I used to use a flour sifter, but it created more mess than a light dusting of flour. A good, heavy stainless steel mixing bowl
OUR PICK FOR A DREDGE SHAKER FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
Banneton – Proofing Basket
There are few more essential sourdough baking tools than a banneton when it comes to making sourdough bread. A banneton is a proofing basket that keeps your final sourdough boule in shape for proofing. They come with or without cloth linings. Using a proofing basket without a lining gives you a more pronounced pattern on the finished bread. Bannetons come in various sizes and shapes, but are mainly focused around sourdough boules and batards. If you’re serious about sourdough baking you should invest in at least a couple of proofing baskets. Don’t forget to dry them out after starting a bake. Most bakers leave them on top of or near an oven, as they can go mouldy from the cold proofing in a refrigerator.
OUR PICK FOR BANNETONS FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
Unless you have an amazing oven that can keep a solid 260˚C then a Dutch Oven is definitely one of the most essential sourdough baking tools. A Dutch Oven is not practical for baking more than a couple of loaves in a session, as most ovens can only fit one at a time anyway. The Dutch Oven keeps the steam escaping from the dough circulating, keeping the crust soft and allowing further expansion of the bread. After around twenty minutes, the lid of the Dutch Oven is removed to allow the crust to harden and get that perfect colour you’re after. The Dutch Oven with a lid that has side handles are preferred to the ones that have the plastic-looking knob that’s not oven-safe above 375˚F (190˚C). While you can take the knob off, if you do this it’s going to be a challenge to get the lid off when it’s extremely hot.
OUR PICK FOR A DUTCH OVEN FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
A bread lame or lamé (“blade” in French) is going to be another one of your most essential sourdough baking tools. A A bread lame is simply a sharp blade to ‘score’ your sourdough just before baking. The slash into your dough directs the steam rising from the dough to escape through what is hopefully the weakest part of the tight dough skin. The score used to be a way to indicate individual loaves cooked in a communal kitchen. These days there’s as many bread lame designs as there are ways to score your dough. Many professional bakers still use a very sharp knife if they’re doing a simple single ‘slash’, but artisanal bakers – those bakers who sign-write their specials on a chalkboard – like the small round lames for more control when doing intricate designs.
OUR PICK FOR A BREAD LAME FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
An accurate oven thermometer is another essential sourdough baking tool. Knowing the ‘real’ temperature of your oven is a must for accurate baking. Those lights and built-in temperature thermometers in your oven are notoriously inaccurate. These analogue thermometers hang or stand on a shelf in your oven and while they might be slow, they are generally very accurate for such an inexpensive kitchen tool. They also come in handy for other baking tasks.
OUR PICK FOR AN OVEN THERMOMETER FOR SOURDOUGH BAKING
More Essential Sourdough Baking Tools
There are lots of other sourdough baking tools that will make life easier for you as a bread baker. One is a wire cake rack to place your bread on to cool down once it’s baked. These linen bread bags will also come in handy for storing your bread or deliver as a gift for family and friends.
A fantastic gift idea for beginner sourdough bakers is this Artisan Bread Making Starter Kit that includes sourdough baking essentials such as banneton baskets, linen liners, a lame, plastic bowl scrapers, stainless steel scrapers, a Danish dough whisk, bread bags, and so on.