Essential Tools for Baking Great Sourdough Bread

In this section I list out all those baking bits and bobs you need to make great sourdough bread. Having spent years testing and tweaking my sourdough bread until I found what worked for me, I realized I had wasted a lot of time and money along the way!

I decided to put this list together for bakers who are looking to pick out all the right tools to give them a good start to their sourdough journey. I’ve included items that are going to help make the sourdough baking process easier, or give you an improved end result. As always, I personally use and/or love every item that I have recommended here. (Check out my Baking Tools section for all of my latest top picks).

Digital Kitchen Scales

An accurate scale for measuring out ingredients is essential when working with sourdough. As you become more experienced, baker’s percentages and ingredient ratios will become important to you, and help you improve your bread result. Without having accurate measurements, every bread bake will be random, without the knowledge of how to improve, or how to replicate that awesome loaf you just made!

I recommend going for a kitchen scale that will serve your baking journey right from the start. The ‘My Weigh Digital Kitchen Scale’ is especially designed with bread bakers in mind. It’s super accurate and even has a function on there to calculate your baker’s percentages! Check it out on Amazon here.

I loves these scales because:

  • They calculate baker’s percentages – This feature is awesome, as it saves you having to get out that calculator when you’re trying to figure your baker’s percentages. The simple click of a button gives you all the numbers you need.
  • There’s a removable plastic cover plate – The stainless steel platform has a removable plastic cover. This means you can measure straight onto the scale without having to place your dough in an additional container when dividing out your dough.
  • They are super accurate – accuracy is key when looking for good kitchen scales for sourdough baking and these let you measure in grams, ounces, pounds and kilograms, to the correct degree of accuracy for bread baking.
  • It comes with a cord AND batteries – I find this feature pretty useful. It’s an official pet peeve of mine that many kitchen scales use the most rare batteries, which happen to run out just at the most crucial moment of your recipe! I prefer to just plug it in and use it; the cord is a good length.

Storage Jars for Sourdough Starter

The secret to great sourdough bread, is great sourdough starter. And maintaining it properly is just as important as making the bread itself. Having a specially designed sourdough starter jar will help you to understand and get to know your starter better. These Weck jars are brilliant for storing and maintaining your sourdough starter.

The jar you use should be glass or ceramic, and ideally have a glass or ceramic lid too, in order for the starter to thrive. Weck jars are ideal because:

  • They have a wide mouth – making it comfortable to feed, mix and keep tidy and clean.
  • They have a glass lid – Sourdough starter thrives in glass, and weck jars have glass lids too. This is useful for the starter to thrive in, but also makes it easy to keep an eye on how the starter is doing at a glance.
  • Removable rubber rings – The rubber rings can be useful when storing sourdough starter in the fridge, and can be easily removed if storing on the counter top, giving your starter just the right amount of air to breath when needed.
  • They come in multipacks – It’s handy that they come in packs of 6 (available at Amazon here), and in a range of sizes to suit your needs. I like to switch out my jars quite regularly, and putting your starter back into an identical jar is useful to help keep an eye on how far it has grown.

QUICK TIP: Use silicone spatulas like these for easy, clean mixing. Sourdough starter won’t stick to silicone as much, making it quicker and simpler to mix through. And you can then use it to smooth down and clean the sides of the jar to make the starter level easily visible.

Dough Thermometer

A dough thermometer is one of those items that you can certainly live without at the beginning, but it is essential for someone who is trying to understanding their dough and improve their bake.

The Lavatool Javelin Pro (available at Amazon here) is of durable quality, and comes with a 3 year warrantee. It’s also useful for checking the temperature of your bread during baking too. It’s a must have for anyone who wants to develop an understanding of why their bread is behaving the way it does, and how to make better bread next time.

Dough Proofer

One of the most difficult aspects in sourdough baking is figuring out exactly when your dough has risen enough, which is made much more complicated by the varying temperatures and humidity levels in your kitchen. A dough proofer is by no means necessary, but it is something that will help you:

  • make better bread
  • have more consistent results
  • schedule your time more easily

The best dough proofer on the market by far in my opinion, is the Brod & Taylor Bread Proofer (available at Amazon here). This product was a game changer for me and I have more detailed information about it here.

QUICK TIP: If you don’t have a dough proofer, it may be useful to have a thermometer with a humidity monitor combined like this one. It will help you to understand what is going on with your dough by measuring the humidity as well as the temperature.

Dough Scrapers

Once your dough has had a chance to ferment, you will be shaping it in preparation for the second rise. A dough scraper or two, are really handy to have around when making sourdough. You can use them for:

  • scraping out the last bits of dough in the bowl
  • assisting with kneading and shaping the dough, particularly if you are working with a dough that is sticky (which is usually the case with sourdough!)
  • scraping excess dough off of your hands
  • scraping the countertop surface just after shaping
  • dividing dough neatly and quickly

You will find that using different types of scrapers are useful for different tasks, and will sometimes just come down to preference.

This handy set from Amazon has a variety of scrapers that can be used in different ways. Perfect for the wide range of tasks you will be using them for, and even better for giving you a taste of which type you prefer for which tasks.

QUICK TIP: It’s handy having two dough scrapers on hand to use when working with a really sticky/soft dough. It will be much easier to handle the dough using the dough scrapers instead of your hands.

Proofing Baskets/Bannetons

Also known as a banneton, proofing baskets help to hold the shape of the loaf and provides a happy balance of forming a skin without drying out the dough too much during it’s 2nd rise. They can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but the most common are these two types:

This shape makes boules
This shapes make batards

They usually come with cloth covers to prevent your dough from sticking to the banneton when you turn it out, but I prefer using these swaddling cloths instead. I find it much easier to wash them, and as they are thinner than the original covers, they leave a pretty design on my loaf from the banneton!

QUICK TIP: If you are baking your bread in a Dutch oven or other baking vessel (recommendation below), remember to check that the basket fits into the Dutch oven you will be using!

Grignette/Lame

A lame/grignette is an extremely thin, extremely sharp blade that is used to slash your dough just before placing it in the oven. This nifty little tool is a game changer for making sure your loaves of bread come out looking presentable with a nice even bake. I love this one from Etsy. It’s super high quality and very comfortable to use compared to traditional lames.

QUICK TIP: Don’t skimp out on using fresh blades. As soon as you feel the dough is beginning to drag, replace it. Clean scoring lines make all the difference to the finish of your bread.

Dutch Oven

Splashing out on a Dutch oven will make the biggest difference in your sourdough bread than any other tweak you make. Baking in one improves rise, crust, and bread texture, giving you a really professional looking loaf of bread. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to using a professional oven.

If you are on a budget, then this Lodge 5qt is an excellent one for just starting out. It’s unique, because you can use the lid as a base, making it really easy to slide your dough into the pot.

QUICK TIP: Use it in the oven upside down with the handles misaligned for a really quick, easy way to lift the cover off half way through the bake.

If you’re looking for a Dutch oven that’s really going to push your oven spring, and give you a professional looking result, the Challenger Bread Pan is perfect. It’s essentially a Dutch oven specifically designed for bread baking! You can purchase it direct from the inventor’s site here, or if you’d like to learn more about why I love the Challenger Bread Pan, click here.

QUICK TIP: Using high grade oven gloves that have good grip is essential if using a Dutch oven for your bread. These oven gloves from Amazon retain a heat of 935F and are ideal for carrying your hot and heavy cast iron pan.

Bread Knife

Using the wrong type of knife can ruin the beautiful interior crumb of your bread that you worked so hard to develop. It also makes it very difficult to cut your bread into nice, even slices. A serrated bread knife is essential for homemade sourdough bread. If you’re on a budget, then this bread knife from Amazon is an excellent choice and great value for money (it’s the one I have and I love it). It has all the features needed in a good bread cutting knife and will help you to get those beautiful even slices.

My top pick though if I’d had the budget at the time is the Victorinox fibrox. This knife will last you many many years and will stay sharp for a long time before needing any attention. For more information about why this is my top pick, and how to choose a good bread knife for sourdough, click here.

QUICK TIP: If you struggle to get even slices, consider investing in a bread slicing guide. It helps to keep the knife in place and give you even slices. This one also has a handy crumb tray to catch all the crumbs and folds away flat when not in use.

If you bake a lot of bread, you can opt for an automatic slicing machine like this one. It’s easy and simple to use, and slices bread pretty much perfectly with very little effort. One major benefit is that it makes slicing through even the hardest of crusts easy peasy, (which can be difficult with a knife).

Bread Bag

Once your bread is baked, you want to make sure it is stored in a way that will keep it freshest for longest. A cotton bread bag like this one is the best way to store a fresh loaf of sourdough bread. It helps to stop it from drying out, but also helps to keep it aired and prevents it from becoming moldy. Be sure to let it cool completely before placing in the bag!

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